What 3 Types of Ice Has to Do with Marketing

To stand above the crowd, show (don't tell) how your company is superior.
March 5, 2014

Near my house is the drinking establishment Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. To call it a bar, or even a lounge, would be an understatement. Franklin Co. is part of the recent wave of craftsman drinking establishments that serve a range of artisanal cocktails. No vodka, no Red Bull. Franklin Co.’s drinks are carefully designed to stimulate the palate. Organic egg whites, apple butter and hibiscus syrup are just a few of the specialty ingredients that make up the delightful potions.

But in case those attractions aren’t adequate, Franklin Co. has something else going for it: three types of ice.

Franklin Co. has the same problem that all of us have: standing out. Hundreds apply for most job openings, and dozens of businesses offer similar products or services. Competition is fierce. In Franklin’s case, several other bars, lounges and watering holes operate within a two-block radius in Philadelphia.

Everyone is competing for the same thing: attention—trying to rise above the clutter to get noticed, or to get hired, chosen or purchased from. And they often exist in a sea of similar-seeming alternatives.

So how can you win their attention? How can you entice people to stop, take notice and maybe even tell others what they just saw?

How about three types of ice?

Most people have never thought twice about ice. There’s the ice in your freezer, which looks pretty similar to the ice in your friend’s freezer, which looks pretty similar to the ice they serve in most restaurants. When the weather is hot, you want more of it. When it’s cold, you want less. Until this article, you probably hadn’t given ice much thought. Ever.

So when you hear that a bar has three types of ice, your curiosity is piqued. What are the three types? How are they different? Why would anyone need two types of ice, let alone three?

But people who care about craftsman drinks care passionately about ice. Different types melt at different rates, so having the right ice for each libation is crucial for creating the optimum drinking experience.

Kold-Draft cubes are frozen from the bottom up. The water is stirred constantly until freezing occurs. The process creates perfectly clear cubes that are free of air bubbles so they melt more slowly.

Cracked or shaved ice is perfect for swizzles or sweeter cocktails. Packed high in a glass, the high surface area encourages faster melting, desirable because it helps round out the flavors.

And finally, big rock ice, hand-carved from a larger block, has just the right melting speed for classic cocktails such as Old Fashioneds.

Three types of ice do much more than make drinks better, though. They serve as a walking, talking advertisement. Something that grabs attention, cuts through the clutter and generates word-of-mouth. Three types of ice open a curiosity gap and make people want to learn more. “What type of place would have three types of ice and why?” Marketing guru-author Seth Godin would call those three types of ice a purple cow, remarkable information that draws people in and compels them to share. “You’ll never believe this place just down the street from my house… ”

Most important, three types of ice is a Trojan Horse story: a vessel or carrier that brings the key message along for the ride, hidden inside. All bars promise that they have good drinks, just like all résumés say the applicant is smart and hardworking. Just like all brands claim they care about their customers.

But saying it isn’t enough. Everyone says it, so no one believes it. You need something more—something that shows rather than tells; something that carries your message home by demonstrating it rather than just claiming it.

The tale of three types of ice carries the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. message better than any advertising or marketing mumbo-jumbo ever could. The business is not just saying, “We’re committed to handcrafted drinks.” Nope, it’s saying, “We’re so committed to handcrafted drinks that no detail goes unnoticed.”

So what are your three types of ice? What’s the information, story or nugget of content that will make people want to find out more about you, make them stop and read your résumé a second time, and make them visit your business, buy your product or hire your service?

Just saying it isn’t enough. Anyone can do that. You have to show it. Sharpen your message into something so remarkable that people can’t help but be engaged. 

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