They say art imitates life but the truth is that life more often than not imitates art only one better. Locked in a self-imposed silo of academic research as a I was writing my book on semantic search I used the example of an imaginary bakery that would use the social web and semantic search and video to get itself out of a rut and promote its product.
The point is that no matter what kind of business you are in these days you will have competition and a lot of it. If you are unable to differentiate yourself sufficiently from your competition, your business will go under. If you are unable to create an emotional connection with your customers, your business will fail.
In my example of an imaginary bakery I zeroed on the subject because bread is a staple, it’s low-cost, and yet subject to intense competition. It’s a staple that can be bought opportunistically rather than by design and its marketing presents unique challenges:
and I wrote:
In my loaf of baked bread example, if the entire experience of buying a loaf of baked bread from your particular bakery does not successfully engage my mind and reflect upon my lifestyle, I am unlikely to even consider it. If the exchange of value in buying the loaf of bread, how special you make me feel, how well you have communicated with me the artistry that goes into making the best baked bread in the world and how my money helps keep an ancient tradition alive, what I will most probably focus on is how much more expensive it is when compared to sliced bread.
Dominique Ansel, chef and owner at Dominique Ansel Bakery, in New York may as well have been reading my mind for around the same time he was doing just that. Working with, of all things, donuts, rather than bread, he had his work cut out for him as the competition is even fiercer than it is with bread and they are not even a staple.
Dominique had a ‘simple’ task to solve: how would he take his bakery that sold sweets from a place where everything had been commoditized and price was the defining characteristic to a position where what mattered was the value and the experience.
He thought hard and he experimented and the answer to his problem was cronuts:
Ticking Every Semantic Web Marketing Box
A cross between a donut and a croissant with the addictiveness of the former and the fragility of the latter a cronut is the ultimate non-commoditized confectionary. What is important here to understand are the elements of the marketing which make it seem like Dominique was secretly reading over my shoulder as I was writing:
- A Labour of Love: I wrote in my book that my imaginary baker really needs to show me that what he does is a work led by passion. Dominique Ansel has catalogued his many attempts to create the perfect cronut and on his website he already has a detailed description of the delicate, fragility of his creation.
- Connect at every level: I then documented how my imaginary, marketing-savvy baker would create content that would showcase his product and connect with me on the move. Ansel Bakery cronut stories can currently be consumed at YouTube as videos of cronuts abound, articles and website content.
- Get the Buzz going: The moment you have stories of cronuts going in the black market at $40 a pop you know that the blogosphere is tightly nestled in the palm of the figurative hand of Ansel Bakery.
- Project Value not Product: In my book I detailed how my made-up baker would convince me that his bread was the best by succeeding in projecting the value it has for me, rather than the price of the product. Currently Ansel Bakery sells cronuts at $5.00 a pop (pre-tax) and they sell out by 9.00am.
The Cherry On The Marketing Cake
What I did not write about in my book (because I was writing about bread which is a commoditized product) is the possibility of creating the ultimate marketer’s dream: a non-commoditized product that would hand you (for a while, at least) a virtual monopoly.
In the ultimate marketing move Ansel Bakery makes just 200 cronuts a day maintaining a premium on possession of one and driving the politics of scarcity that feeds the buzz and makes the purchase of one a thing of status in its own right.
This is a genius move and probably worthy of an article in its own right. What the whole cronut story proves however is that provided you are willing to experiment there is no market that cannot be disrupted and taken over. Provided you connect all the ‘dots’ in your website, social media marketing, SEO and offsite activities, there is no way you cannot show up in search. A search for “cronuts” throws up 2.3 million results with Ansel Bakery at the #1 spot on the first page of Google.
The story also shows that reality is never far from fiction. The idealized bakery of my example drew heavily on my own direct experience of having worked in a bakery, for a while, as a teen and my knowledge of what works in the semantic web, to create a scenario.
Reality kinda bettered it with Ansel Bakery’s cronuts.