I don’t know if you have ever heard of Claude Hopkins. 

I want to share with you the specific story about the advertising legend Claude Hopkins and Schlitz Brewing Company. In the early 1920s, Schlitz was in trouble. They were running well behind several beer companies. They were in 10th place in terms of market share.

So Schlitz hired Hopkins, who was already reaching legendary status in advertising, to create their next advertising campaign.

Hopkins immediately discovered that everyone sold beer the same way.

All brewing companies advertised the same way. They all stated in adverts about how pure their beer was. Some companies even took out full-page ads so they could get the word “PURE” in larger letters.

But it didn’t mean anything to the public because all beer companies claimed their beer was pure. Now, Hopkins didn’t believe in doing anything until he fully understood the products and the people who bought them. He was given a tour and was fascinated by what he saw.

On the tour, he was shown plate-glass rooms where beer was dripping over pipes. Asking why they did this, Hopkins was told that those rooms were filled with filtered air so that the beer could be cooled without impurities.

Next, he was shown giant expensive filters filled with white-wood pulp that provided a unique filtering process. The manufacturer then went on to explain how they cleaned every pump and pipe, twice daily to assure purity.

And also how each bottle was sterilised not once or twice, but four times before being filled with beer.

Then, Hopkins was shown the 4 000 foot deep artesian wells dug to provide the cleanest and purest water available. Finally, Hopkins was led into a laboratory and shown the mother yeast cell that was a product of 1 200 experiments to bring out the robust flavour. He was told that the yeast used in making Schlitz beer was developed from that original yeast cell.

When the tour was over, Hopkins asked, “Why don’t you tell people in your advertising about all these steps you are taking to brew your beer?” But, the Schlitz people told him, “All companies brew their beer about the same way.”

“Yes,” Hopkins countered, “but the first one to tell the public about this process will gain a big advantage.” Hopkins went on to create an advertising campaign based on what he’d learned from the tour. Essentially, he told the story that every brewery could have; but didn’t.

The Results? Within six months, Schlitz became the number one selling beer in America. Why? Because rather than telling people the same thing everyone else in their industry was saying, they explained what it meant and gave people a reason to care.

What does this mean to you and your business? Does everyone in your industry say pretty much the same thing?

Think about what that means to your customers. Think about telling people why that’s important, how much work you go through to get them these things, and why it’s important to you and for them.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have a unique client proposition or preemptive market advantage?
  • Have you uncovered your differentiators?
  • What can you immediately do to improve your marketing positioning and preemptive advantage?
  • Are your consistent messages clarifying your preemptive position?
  • Is there a perceived proprietary or systematic process or advantage that your clients might value? (even if your competitors do the same, but keep it secret)
  • Are you using a strategy of PREEMINENCE to communicate all your advantages, benefits, and value to your prospects and clients across multiple media channels? You can never over-communicate.

Every product or service has an opportunity to fine-tune and improve their unique client proposition or preemptive advantage. The problem is that we forget to tell the story of our brand’s distinctness. We don’t search for its uniqueness but tend to play the timeless game of following the follower.

We have similar branding, similar websites, similar messages, similar selling processes, similar offers, similar adverts, similar presentations, similar prices, and employ similar people.   

The antidote to breaking the similar syndrome is to ask the magic words “SO WHAT?” continually.

Next time you come up with a great new “thing” or “idea” to tell people, remember to ask, “SO WHAT?”.

Because if you don’t, your potential customers might.