The box just said "Scharffen Berger" on the return label.
I opened it up and there was a simple hand-written note. It said, "Seth, have you ever tasted a chocolate bar like this before? Regards, Raymond Major." His business card was stapled to the note. His title? Senior Staff Scientist.
Attached: exactly one three-ounce chocolate bar, in grey cardboard. The bar itself was wrapped in a waxed-paper like substance, hand folded with a label.
And the chocolate (Tome-Acu 68%) was mind-blowingly good.
Handmade, anticipated and wonderful. From a division of Hershey!
So, what exactly happened here?
- They know me. I met John, the founder, years and years ago, and he gave me a plant tour and the story of his product blew me away.
- I read John's book. He was true and authentic and inspiring.
- I wrote something negative about an engagement with their customer service folks on my blog and they reached out and we had a great conversation on the phone.
- The note they sent was hand written.
- It was from not just a scientist, but from the senior scientist.
- The chocolate was clearly a limited, special item.
- And, yes, the chocolate was terrific. Better than terrific.
So, you ask, what if I (the marketer) don't know the blogger or the reporter? What if I don't have permission? What if they don't care about me? What if my product is mediocre?
Alas, the answer isn't good. The answer is: tough. Is this an unreasonable expectation? Lengths too great to have to go to? Well, it's cheaper than buying an ad on the Super Bowl or even buying shelf space at the Safeway.
The way to win is to make things that tiny (or large!) groups want to talk about, or care about, or engage in. That's the story that spreads.
PS as I finished writing this, I got a letter in the mail at home from the local Mexican restaurant. They probably purchased the address of every single person in town from a mailing list broker. It's cheap. Add a stamp and a return address that's interesting (why are they writing to me) and I'll open it.
It was a letter apologizing to the town for how lousy the restaurant had been since it opened three months ago and how hard they were working to fix it and how much they appreciated everyone's feedback. It had a real name at the bottom, a phone number and a $10 gift certificate attached. Wow.