This summary of the conversation that took place in the Startup Chile Marketing Tribe Meeting was written up by Morgan Friedman of Gift Pinpoint. ————————————– The most recent meeting of the Startup Chile Marketing Tribe was focused on one particular question: what are the marketing lessons we can derive from the marketing of alcohol? The first lesson is prohibition creates excitement. Everyone is very excited to spend money buying absinthe precisely because absinthe is illegal in so many places! If absinthe were as legal and as common as avocados, then, everyone would talk about it less and it would be a lot less exciting.
The second lesson is rituals create an exciting in-group feeling. Have you ever heard that, this paarticular alcohol must be drunk in this sort of way? There is, they say, one right way to drink absinthe: it involves lighting it on fire and drinking it while burning! Seriously! Or a more common example is, the the salt on the hand before the tequila shot. With many alcohols, you’re not just buying the alcohol–you’re performing the ritual, and that ritual (your knowledge of it, and your acting it out) show that you’re a member of the group. You’re the cool kid who knows The Right way to drink absinthe, or you’re the super cool college student who knows how to do a tequila shot–unlike the nerds over there, like me, who have no idea how to! They show you’re in the group, and this creates an us-vs-them feeling, which is very exciting. Note that this lesson is counter-intuitive, if you pay attention to a lot of othe blah blah blah blather that talking heads write about marketing online. Everyone says, “lower the barrier to entry! Make it easy!”. But maybe–just maybe–the opposite is sometimes true. If you need to perform a ritual to do something, that makes it substantially harder and raises the barrier to entry; but it creates dedication, loyalty, and excitement among those who surpass it.
The third lesson is giving people good stories to tell, encourages them to talk all about your product. Did you know that the Vodka Gimlet — one of whose core ingredients is lime juice — was born when a military general needed to get his soldeirs to take lime juice to prevent them from getting scurvy, so he had the insight to mix it with alcohol to get them to drink it? Mythologies often have the result of giving people memorable anecdotes that they then want to share–which get them talking about the product. Indeed, at the meeting, Roman Nitkin (of Inventarium, SUP 7.2) shared a great story about the last Tsar of Russia hating lemons and somehow creating a drink from it. I don’t remember enough of the story to recall it in the detail it deserves because I was, uh, tired while he told the story! But this reinforces the core insight here: that giving people a simple, fun, interesting story encourages them to share it–and thus talk all about your product! These three lessons, taken together — prohibition creates excitement; rituals create an exciting in-group feeling; and giving people good stories to tell, encourages them to talk all about your product — would form a great strategic background to any first-rate marketing campaign. How do they apply to your product?