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My Shoes are in the Dishwasher and I Just Killed My Doughnut

May 13, 2010

When you start a business, or are growing one, you have to know what you’re offering that warrants somebody spending money—and you have to be able to tell them in a simple and memorable way. Guy Kawasaki, a famed technologist and entrepreneur calls this “being fascinating.”  I call it having a story.  So, what’s yours?

When you have a good, consistent product or service and a great story, you don’t necessarily need a high-gloss PR campaign.  You just need to share your story—and sell your wares—so others can share your story too. 

Sometimes you get lucky and your customers or clients create your story for you.  That’s what happened to Roni Deutch, CEO of the nation’s largest tax resolution law firm.  Instead of calling her Roni Deutch, customers started calling her “The Tax Lady.”  Now, that’s a memorable moniker to go along with her stories.

We all know the rock star stories already like Apple, SPANX and Starbucks—to name a few.  So, for good measure, I wanted to share two stories that you may not know to entertain you and, perhaps, give you a little more insight that can help you create your own! 

Before I go on, remember these three rules of story-building success: (1) Make it memorable by telling the ordinary in an odd-ball or highly-descriptive way; (2) Make it authentic (so make up your own story, don’t use someone else’s); and (3) Give it the glaze test (i.e. share it with a few people and if they get that glazed-over-eyes look, go back to your office and start over; if they have a positive emotional response, that’s the story)!

My Shoes are in the Dishwasher: The Story that Made Crocs Rock

The Crocs people have apparently since warned against it—and a few people who have tried have regretted it—but a story that got moms and kids excited about Crocs (besides comfort) was the fact that you could throw them in the dishwasher to clean them.  What kid wouldn’t want to do something as cool as put their shoes in the dishwasher along with their half cleaned plate from a spaghetti dinner? And what mom wouldn’t want to throw her child’s dirty shoes in the dishwasher instead of having to scrub them by hand, or buy new ones?  Good product—comfortable, sturdy, quirky and fun shoes. Great story—throw them in the dishwasher to clean them (which mom cares about) and just for fun (which the kids care about). This passes the 3-Point Story Test. It’s odd, original and creates a positive emotional reaction!

I Just Killed My Doughnut: Weirdly Delicious

A small doughnt shop in Portland, Oregon is said to have the best tasting doughnuts ever—but that’s not their story. Voodoo Doughnut shop has made their doughnuts simply irresistible by having a memorable name and a catchy story, created by their whacky doughnuts. They have a voodoo doughnut, shaped like a voodoo doll, complete with a pretzel stick that customers love to jab through the doughnut so that the strawberry jelly inside oozes out.  (Any kid or an adult who is a kid at heart would have to do this at least one time!) And, their other doughtnuts are crazy too—like round frosted doughnuts with fruity cheerios on top.  All these crazy creations are baked fresh daily. It’s something weird and cool to talk about, so people do.  And Voodoo Doughnut has gotten press coverage and plenty of sales because of it. They too pass the 3-Point Story Test.

So now — what’s your story? Share them in the comments below.


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