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A Couple of Weird Ideas to Grow Your Business

A Couple of Weird Ideas to Grow Your Business

April 02, 2013

Last month, I spoke on the subject of marketing at America’s largest gift and merchandise show in Las Vegas. I took the time to walk the exhibit floor – and I was glad I did!

What a sensory feast. I couldn’t wait to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly of the newest and strangest items I saw.

Look closely, because you may want to apply some of these ideas to your own business.

The things I saw, smelled, touched, tasted and heard!

Boo Boo Bling Bandaids. Bride & Groom Boobleheads. Flask Ties. Rolling Pigs. RedNeck Champagne. StacheTats. TestTube Candy. Fun monikers for curiously crazy products.

Using sight, sound and motion to grab your attention


"Since retaining this liquid motion display, I've had a 15% bump in sales."

This is really surprising because, the product is just another candy. But the display is engaging with  site and sound. The lit tubes floating bubbles attract the idea and draw you in.

  Nothing focuses the mind like surprise.

Using Touch & Taste to Trigger Interaction
  Sean Baxter is shocked that he has sold $100,000 worth of Drink ‘Em Up Flask Ties since November. This is amazing.  Touch it, taste it, imagine yourself glug-glugging in secret or giving it as a gift.
Getting Buyers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act & Relate

“StatcheTATS” were the biggest hit with two of my kids wearing a temporary mustache tattoo.  


This helicopter camera was a big hit for the crowds. Why? It attracted the eye like bees to honey.

Wow. Let me try to fly that and spy on people with my super powers. A flying camera. It captures the imagination. Helicopters are one of the top selling items in Brookstone. But more importantly, it's one top irresistible bait that they use to get people to come into the store. “Look, let’s go try that…”


So with these ideas in mind, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  • How do I make what I sell more interactive?
  • How do I add motion and improve interactivity?
  • How do I allow a buyer to personally experience what I sell?
  • How do I spark curiosity for what I sell?

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Cole-Haan uses the deep scent of polished leather (smell)
  • Rice Krispies promotes not just the taste but also the Snap! Crackle! Pop! (sound)
  • MAC lipsticks use a signature vanilla flavor (taste)
  • Hardley-Davidson Motors lets you sit on a Harley, with a leather jacket and a wind machine to have your picture taken. They promote their head-turning potato-potata-potata rumble (touch and sound)

Bet you can think of dozens more brand names known for their sensory experience.

How to Position Your Products to Stroke the Senses

  • Limit old-style features-benefits-advantages selling. Boring.
  • Don’t load up buyers with facts when they want fascination
  • For displays, emphasize clear, clean lines at eye-level to avoid clutter confusion
  • Install video loops to show how products are used in the store
  • Use digital signage and moving electric lights
  • Tell the product story with pictures instead of static signs
  • Show others taste sampling your product
  • Use live demonstrations
  • Infuse space with a lemon scent which make people alert
  • Use sensory language in your marketing communication (frothy, luminous, buttery-soft, bone-tingling, tangy, rustic, touchable, whisper quiet, whimsical...you get the idea).

Customers want brands they can connect with, and be stimulated by. They want experiences.
In sales, “bonding with the brand” helps increase your share of the wallet. 

Now for the Real Lessons Learned

I’ve shown you the good, and the great is yet to come. But next, let’s turn to a little bad and ugly.

Do Not Touch the Merchandise—Say What?

Given what I’ve already shared, how would you feel if you walked into, let’s say, a glassware shop and spotted this sign:

Turn around, right? That’s how I felt when I walked up to a booth selling Leicas, arguably the supernova of professional cameras.

What’s Going On Here?

Can You Pick Out the Uglies?
  • No booth signage
  • No place to draw the eye in
  • Everything flat and static
  • Nothing going on to make me curious
  • Uninviting colors
  • Sales woman fortressed behind a counter
  • Not a single visual pop
  • Nothing to demo product output
Yet Cameras Live Purely in a Visual World

 Now This is What I'm Talkin' About

Sigma Photo set up a complete shoot studio, inviting buyers in to touch (i.e. test out their photo skills on a live model), studio lighting, and their SD1/DP2 Merrill Digital SLR camera equipment. Then, when you completed your “experience”, you received a great quality t-shirt to memorialize the visit adorned with a killer testimonial: “I just played with the DP2 Merrill... and I’m a believer.” It was irresistable bait.

I was curious, then fascinated, then I happily interacted with the product. A++

What a difference from the Leica booth above.


A large monitor showing all the passerby's actual pictures being taken in real time in that Sigma Photo booth.



Game-Changer Sales

Twenty-first century selling is experiential. You don’t need armies of sales reps pushing expensive brochures in elaborate presentations. But you do need a genuine sensitivity for how customers want to buy. 

Today’s consumer wants to be stimulated, entertained, educated, and fascinated.  

Because 60 percent of our brains are devoted to processing information through sight, you can jump into the game right now by doing a visual analysis of your product, packaging, showroom, storefront, kiosk, shop space, display shelves, trade booth, marketing materials, website… all your digital assets. Look for where you’re coming up short. And then look for ways to dazzle.

You’ll be more than halfway to a fascinating future.

And now, I’m reminded that the first rule of fascinating others is knowing when to end the message.