410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

You Would Have Laughed So Hard

You Would Have Laughed So Hard

August 13, 2009

Temperatures in Baltimore topped 100-degrees this week and our a/c just couldn't keep up. I finally broke down and bought one of those do-it-yourself window units for my office.

Easy task for most, I know. But I never claimed to be much of a handyman and when you don't have the right tools for the right job, well things can get comical.

We were using a ratchet for a hammer (don't ask!). We used a screw driver as a pry bar. And when all was said and done, we still didn't have the tools we needed to get the job done. We were laughing so hard. It really was comical. Our marketing strategist, Rafael, walked in, rolled his eyes and laughed and just walked out.

So you won't see me doing too much fixing around the office. But one thing I do pretty well is what I call 'spotting the story.' It's the ability to see a story in a product or a company that other people will say, 'Wow! Tell me more.'

Claude Hopkins had it too. It made him one of the country's best copywriters and completely turned around one company. Here's how '

How one of the advertising greats catapulted sales of Schlitz beer

Claude Hopkins

His assignment: Create a marketing piece that will help Schlitz beer increase sales. At the time, the beer maker's sales were in fifth place. He describes it in his book, 'My Life In Advertising' and I've paraphrased portions here for you '

The beer ads then all cried 'Pure'. Each one claimed their beer was more 'pure' than another and to make their claim bolder, they made the letters larger. 'Their claim made as much impression on people as water makes on a duck,' Hopkins says.

To learn more about what makes beer 'pure', he enrolled in brewing school. That didn't help. So he went to the brewery. He saw plate-glass rooms where beer was dripping over pipes. When he asked about them, the tour manager explained it's not unique. The rooms were filled with filtered air, so the beer could be cooled in purity.

He saw how they cleaned every pump and pipe, twice daily, to avoid contamination. He saw artesian wells that went 4,000 feet deep to access pure water. He saw vats where beer was aged for six months before it went out.

He saw how a majority of the beer was thrown out in the filtering process. When he asked about it, again the manager said, 'It's not that important - everyone does it.'
After Hopkins finished his interviews and tour, he wrote a story about the pain-staking process and that went into producing the beer.


The reaction? You may be surprised ...

The people at Shlitz were shocked.

'We paid you all this money!' they said. 'What a waste of time and effort! Who's gonna read all of this and furthermore, it doesn't make sense to write about how the beer is made - every beer maker does this!'

Hopkins retorted, 'Yes. But nobody owns the story.'

The modest beer makers published the story (after all, they had spent so much money already). It detailed how Shlitz made beer with such care and perfection, even throwing out large quanti'ties of beer so that the quality would be para'mount.

He described the making of beer as an art form. He made it exciting and created energy and ultimately, he created a Big Zig. It was not a Big Zig to those in the beer industry; to them it was the details of produc'tion. However to the public, it registered as education of what a well made beer should be. It set the standard. By writing and publishing the story of a well produced beer, Shlitz owned the story.

Result: Schlitz sales shot to number one in just six short months!


What story do you own?

People are ALWAYS interested in a story. There is no such thing as long copy, only boring copy. Take the time to tell a story. If it seems like old news to you, it may not be to anyone else who isn't as familiar with your market.

Why? Because whoever owns the story wins! Everyone else in the beer industry talked about how 'pure' their beer was. But Schlitz was the only one who owned the story.

Now that's a tool even I can use!

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,