Ok, but seriously, what are you selling? Amp up your marketing strategy.

We have all had someone try to sell us a product from time to time; it could be a mop at the Spring Home Show, a new car at McDougall Auctions, or even Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie BBQ. Whenever I encounter a sales pitch, I love to take a step back and see how sellers approach what they are selling. Are they giving it to you straight and selling you just the product, or are they focusing strictly on the benefits?

How is Campbell’s Soup being marketed?

I saw a faux-client-meeting video where the agency and the client were discussing how to sell soup. When they were doing their marketing strategy development they discovered they had to make some branding adjustments.

When asked what they sold, the client responded “soup”.

THE AGENCY FOLKS RETORTED AND EXCLAIMED:

“THOSE AREN’T CANS OF SOUP! THOSE ARE FAMILY MEMORIES AROUND THE DINNER TABLE.”

It may seem cheesy – but there is a lesson to be learned. Is it just a can of soup? Is it just a commodity? What are you actually selling?

A strong marketing strategy should accomplish the goal of increasing profit.

You see, as a business owner, you’re concerned with the dollars and cents, revenues, inventory, and profit. Of course, you’re concerned about your brand as well, but at the end of the day you’re responsible for keeping the lights on. You view your soup as a commodity, a product that people purchase in exchange for money. People eat it for a host of reasons: they like it; they need the nutrition; it is inexpensive. Overall, they purchase it to consume it. Pavlov would place the can of soup at the very bottom of hid hierarchy in the physiological category.

The lofty agency folks want you to dig deeper. What are people actually buying when they buy your soup? A conversation with a loved one? A family dinner full of belly-aching laughter? Maybe they are purchasing the chance to belong to a larger narrative in life. Sure. Your brand can give you the chance to climb out of a strictly nutritional value of the soup and into a larger category where people can feel like they belong to a type of community.

At the end of the day, isn’t it just a can of soup?

The business is selling soup, but sometimes people purchase a product because of the brand value and the experience associated with it.

There’s a reason mega corps like Coca-Cola claim to be selling “happiness”, and McDonalds is selling an “I’m lovin’ it.” It is because they are selling experiences.

However, some people purchase soup because they like tomatoes and don’t give two rips what label is on it.

The problem is – they’re both right.

If we are honest, the truth is somewhere in the middle. There aren’t a lot of people who are going to see a Campbell’s soup can and think of all the great memories it brings. To use myself as an example, when I think of soup I’m thrust into a place where I’m of sitting in sweatpants watching Netflix, dipping my grilled cheese crust in my tomato soup. Not the exact image that Campbell’s wants to associate itself with, now is it?

We need to consider BOTH the long term and short terms goals of our products and services at all times. We need to be able to sell cans of tomato soup as a nutritious meal, all the while spending time creating an emotional connection with our specific brand of soup, inviting consumers into a something with more impact than strictly soup. The side effect? You will create brand leadership by giving your audience something to relate to.

And what happens, if we can’t learn to balance the long and short terms goals of our brand?

“No Soup for you!”

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