. . . Monday November 14, 2005

A Round Thing with Salt

A couple of weeks ago when I was walking around New York City, I came across one of those unmarked (other than its endless dents that were too high to have been caused by other vehicles’ doors or bumpers) white vans that was unique to the city of Yo.

An older dude hurried out of the driver’s side door and slammed the door shut. A Marlboro red box cigarette dangled from his mouth as he yelled back towards the much younger fellow who leaned cautiously out of the passenger side window.

“You want a pretzel?”

The rookie, who must have been new to the country, looked dumbfounded, shrugged his shoulders and asked, “What’s a pretzel?”

Without missing a beat or slowing his stride, the old schooler shot back:

“It’s a fucking round thing with salt. You want one or not?”

The rookie’s eyes lit up. “Yeah,” he responded, “yeah.”

There was really nothing else he could say. That young man had found himself on the receiving end of a perfect marketing pitch. Who, other than those with severe blood pressure problems or a golfball sized kidney stone could possibly say no to a fucking round thing with salt?

The old van driving veteran could’ve easily complicated things and detailed the ingredients of a pretzel, explained the origins of it’s unusual shape (intended to mirror that of a monk folding his arms), or described the various schools of thought regarding the use of the yellow mustard.

But he didn’t. He kept it simple. And doing so, he left his customer with no choice but to buy.

How many corporate stories would have totally different trajectories had they employed this van driver as their messaging chief? Don’t take my word for it. Try it out on your favorite product that doesn’t seem to be selling as well as you think it should be. It certainly works in my own sample case.

Tivo: It’s a fucking VCR with no tapes.

Concentration is important!