Cat poop coffee and Holy Crap cereal… wacky marketing that works

Sometimes you just have to look to the most unusual of places for interesting marketing ideas to help build your business.

A couple quick examples show why stories are so important to build into your marketing:

A young couple from Canada had developed a very healthy cereal with a combination of chia, hulled hemp seeds, buckwheat, apples, cranberries, raisins and cinnamon.

Who doesn’t need a good healthy start to the day… right?

Well… it sounds good in theory… but what they quickly found was that rational reasons to buy weren’t enough.

They originally called their cereal HapiFoods… not exactly a sexy sounding name… but they still sold 10 bags or so online the first day in business.

As soon as people started receiving and trying their cereal, they noticed a trend that changed everything.

“… people were calling and saying, ‘Holy crap, this is great'” said Corin Mullins, one of the founders. Brian, the other partner involved picked up on this and made a quick decision… “let’s change the name to Holy Crap for the summer and see what happens”.
“We put it online and the first day it was Holy Crap, I sold over 100 bags,” said Corin. “It was the exact same recipe.”

1,000% increase in sales with changing the name

So they are off to the races and were put on the Dragons Den show in Canada (same as the Sharks Den in the US). Their flavorful cereal was snapped up by one of the Dragons immediately, and their sales went through the roof:

The deal was the fastest struck in the history of Dragons’ Den, said producer Molly Duignan. “[Jim Treliving] hadn’t even finished sampling the product and he basically made an offer.”

Orders for the cereal have been rolling in, jumping from an average of 10 a day to 10 every minute.

Over 5,800 online orders have been placed since Dragons Den, said Corin Mullins. Demand has been so great that the Mullinses hired five new employees. They even had to turn down NBC’s Today Show as the demand would have crippled their ability to supply.

Lesson learned?

Change your name!!

If a product isn’t moving as well as it should – try a new, more exciting name. In this case their customers handed them the perfect name on a silver platter. Other times it isn’t quite so easy. Sometimes you should be testing new names and new niche marketing ideas for products that DO already sell well.

Never know when you’ll find a winner.

But a product name is no different than a headline – a good name can and will see substantially more products or services. An attendee at one of my workshops told me she renamed her massage service to a 61 Minute Vacation and her sales immediately went through the roof. Same service – new name – HUGE boost in sales.

Try it out and test a new name out for a month or two. Market it to new people and see what the demand is like. You never know when you will find a winner and see a 1,000% increase in sales with a simple re-branding.

How about some cat poop with your coffee?

Did you see the movie… the Bucket List with Jack Nicholson? Well, one of the to-do items on the list was a drink of Kopi Luwak coffee. Cat poop coffee is basically what it is – and it is a HOT seller (steaming hot? Kidding).

The Wild Cicvik in Thailand is where the ‘beans’ come from for this coffee and it is an extremely rare (and expensive) type of coffee.

The Cicvik eats a certain type of wild cherry, passes it through, and the seeds are pulled out of the remains and used as the basis for this coffee.

Dubbed the most expensive coffee in the world, it recently arrived in Calgary, where I live. The coffee shop selling it loves the media attention this new addition is getting. They are almost sold out of the $25 a cup delight… and the residual business they are gaining by this will help them pay their bills for months, maybe years to come.

Notice something though?

In both of these cases, they have an interesting story that people want to hear.

They find their most important story (or title… or headline).

They master their story.

They share their story.

Sometimes they have to try new names, headlines, promises or guarantees to find the signature story.

Other times they have to look outside for new, innovative or controversial products they can sell as part of their story mix.

Both work… and both are just as feasible for you and I.

A new year is almost upon us, and there has never been a better time to step up and try doing more things that position you differently, more controversial, or just more weird.

People LOVE a good story… and are willing to pay for it.

If people are lining up to pay $25 to drink Cat Poop coffee… don’t you think there might be some kind of product or service out there that you can add to your marketing mix and position yourself as THE business to watch?

Of course!

For the new year (and even your holiday promotions), try bundling your products differently with a unique new name, and try adding in something that bumps your price up, and gives your customers a GREAT story they can share with their friends and family.

Never know when it will be your next big winner!

To your success,

Troy White

PS: This was originally written for Clayton Makepeace‘s blog, which I write the Small Business Mastery column every Thursday

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  1. Wren Long says:

    I love this cereal but I had never actually read anything about it’s history or anythng else about it, until now, when I decided to research it on the internet. I’m also a marketer, so I was thrilled to read the article because it’s such a fascinating marketing story.

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