Two words rejuvenated an entire industry.
Two short words, with just one syllable each. A total of seven letters.
Those seven letters turned hundreds of peasants into millionaires. And it will happen again. Maybe it will happen to you.
This story starts with a cow.
Actually, lots of cows.
Or really, when you get down to it, lots of farmers who raised lots of cows.
What’s left when you get rid of the bull?
About 25 years ago, thousands of dairy farmers put their heads together. They wanted to figure out a way to persuade people to drink more milk.
Almost everybody knew about calcium and protein. The healthy angle wasn’t going to change anything. They had to find a way to make milk sexy. Or at least tasty.
The best message they could come up with was this: “Milk goes really well with many different things!”
They were right, but they needed more. They needed concrete examples. Something you could put on billboards.
Finally, they came up with a photo showing a plate of chocolate chip cookies. “Cookies taste better with milk,” was the message.
It was too long. They were paying by the word, and they were just farmers after all.
Then someone working for the California Milk Processor Board came up with a genius idea. The same picture, with a short, two-word question: “Got milk?”
The rest is history. The same question could be repeated endlessly with a new, tempting photograph.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Got milk?
Birthday cake. Got milk?
A hot, foaming shot of rich espresso. Got milk?
A romantic, candle-lit restaurant, a table for two with filet mignon, pan-seared salmon, a salad of baby greens and caramelized walnuts with vinaigrette dressing, two crystal goblets and…well, maybe milk doesn’t fit in with everything. But you can put it with a lot of good food. And the dairy people found a way to keep reminding us, without ever boring or overwhelming us.
How to harness the “Got Milk” mojo in your business
So here’s the thing. If you look at enough business websites, you see an abundance of bullet points. Each point lists a very valuable service or feature that your business offers. They are all very important. In fact, at any given moment there is probably one bullet point that is vital to a prospective client right now.
The trouble is, they probably won’t see it. It’s hiding from them, camouflaged among all those other bullet points.
Imagine if a giant billboard listed (with bullet points) all the different foods that taste good with milk. Would anybody read it? Would you read it? Do you think the dairy farmers would ever have a reason to run it again?
Instead, we get two words. Simple, easy to remember. And a different food each time. It never gets old. In fact, it becomes a meme. And each time you see another “got milk” ad, you don’t just think about the cookies on the picture in front of you. You think of all the other treats that go with milk.
So, now we come to the big question. How can you use this for your business?
Well, the hard part is to look at all the things you do for your clients, and come up with a common thread. Once you’ve done that, you simply make a list of different scenarios in which that common thread comes into play.
Let’s say you provide technical solutions. Your common thread is that you eliminate downtime. Come up with a simple phrase, let’s say, “Zero downtime.”
Next, you get some stock photos showing things that might cause downtime. A building on fire. A virus. A blank, blue screen. Earthquakes.
You also get short testimonials from real clients describing how you saved them.
You pull out a case study or two.
Now you’ve got a collection of things you can show in a daily Facebook post, a tweet, on Instagram and so on. Each picture, quote, or story is accompanied by your logo and the words “Zero Downtime.”
Business owners will see this, and every week or every day they see another way you help them from losing valuable productivity. And it never gets old.
In fact, this technique has been around at least since the 1950s. In a book that’s considered the Bible for copywriting, Eugene Schwartz dedicated a whole chapter to it and coined the term “intensification” to describe it. (I know a lot of my readers are copywriters. Go back and read chapter seven!)
Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought. (Got milk?)
But if you want some help, I’d be happy to brainstorm with you. You know where to find me.