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What’s Your One Thing?

Written By Jacki Sturkie | May 20, 2015

Forget trying to stand out. Try staying in someone’s memory. Being successful as a creative isn’t just a battle to help your clients get noticed in a crowded marketplace, it’s a battle to be remembered at all. What we’re ultimately clamoring for as creatives is the spark that sends you, or your client, to the top of the customer’s mind.

That’s where my “one thing” theory comes into play. People are maxed out with information to the point that it’s all one big blur. They’re lucky to remember their phone number.

But sometimes, just one thing can make customers remember, talk about and award their business to you. To illustrate this theory, I’m going to use two of the most crowded industries in America—coffee and pizza.

Hip to be square

Caffe UmbriaWith just 876 coffee houses to choose from, Portland was recently named the number three most caffeinated city in the country. Seattle got first place with 1,640 coffee houses. Whatever, Seattle. Austin came in tenth with 199 coffee joints.

Eyes back to Portland—competition for where you go for joe is tough. What can a coffee stores do to steam ahead in your memory? Find one thing to make people remember them.

Caffè Umbria serves a rich square of chocolate with every coffee drink. When I head to that neighborhood, the chocolate square makes me go back to Umbria every time.

“Craft” pizza

Just to give you an idea of how many pizza stores are battling it out, consider that the American Pizza Community has 20,000 pizza restaurants as members. And those are just the ones that belong to the coalition!

pizza cutboard w scissorsNo one’s suffering in Portland for a lack of pizza options. We’ve got plenty of pies that fly, sizzle and other stuff pizzas do.

How do you get people to remember one pizza place in a city full of flying dough? Find that one thing.

Just about every place uses the familiar disc-shaped pizza cutter, but I remember Cibo because they hand out pizza-cutting scissors. It’s like edible scrapbooking!

I’ve even heard people call them, “the pizza place with the scissors.” Their pizza is sublime, of course, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but the scissors really stand out.

Back to you

What’s the one thing that will make people remember you? Before you decide, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Complement, not contrast

Chocolate goes with coffee, not brake parts. You’ll want to make an association that makes sense to the customer. Pizza scissors make sense because they’re unexpected and make the pizza-eating experience different. Hell, anybody can eat a pre-cut pizza.

2. Consistency commits

Once you’ve come up with something unique, keep it going. It’s critical to deliver your one thing every time, whether it’s scissors or chocolate. That way, people will remember you. Ask McDonald’s how those Happy Meal toys worked out.

round up robin3. What’s in your name?

People often overlook the strength of their own name. With a name like Sturkie, I should sell turkey jerky.

I recently worked on a brand researcher’s business card. Her name is Robin. Working with graphic designer Michelle Zobeck, we came up with “Round-up Robin” and put a bird on it because Robin equals bird.

Seems so obvious, which is pretty much the point of earning your place in a memory bank.

Jacki Sturkie is a copywriter, brand strategist and comedian in Portland, OR. Her book, Sass Mouth, is now available on Amazon.


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