Monday, August 27, 2007

Strange Pairings Stand Out

Listening to Kink 102 this morning, I heard a surprising combination of voices. It was Alison Krauss and Robert Plant singing the Everly Brothers' song "Going Going Gone" from their cover album due Oct. 23 called "Raising Sand."

I was so struck by how well their voices blended together and immediately I started thinking about how businesses could take a lesson from these two.

Two pop artists together wouldn't have caught my attention in the same way. Artists from the same genre with the same sound wouldn't be so distinguishable. But two artists branching out of their comfort zones to make something unique together is both innovative and distinctive.

Marketplace distinction can be the reward for small businesses that use the power of incongruity.

It won't work for every type of business, but you can find success by putting odd couples together and marketing the offspring. One small Portland business that has emerged and grown using this strategy is Voodoo Doughnuts, where you can find bacon-glazed, Cap'n Crunch, and Pepto-Bismol flavored donuts ~ and where you can also get married. Odd combinations pair together to provide an unforgettable and notable destination.

Unusual couplings can also help companies tell stories. In the recently redesigned bridgeport brewpub + bakery, thirsty would-be quaffers enter the pub only to be greeted with a baked goods case, begging the question: What's a bakery doing in a brewpub?

The answer is that the origins of beer are in baking. It was in the use of yeast in baking that brewing came to be discovered. Getting consumers to ask the question enables the company to tell its story and reinforce its brand position as Oregon's Oldest Craft Brewery. Good marketing arises from a seemingly incongruous launching point.

Sometimes, a jarring juxtaposition can be used to gain attention for a business's ad campaign. Immediately I think of Les Schwab Tire Center's "Free Beef" promotion. Giving away red meat with the purchase of tires works. Why? Because it's attention-getting. And digging deeper, the red meat is a symbol of the ranch community of Eastern Oregon that is the company's headquarters. While at first glance it seems a random combination, in fact, the meat giveaway is good marketing that also reinforces the company's brand.

Not sure what strange combinations you can concoct to promote your businesses? Find inspiration at a beer and chocolate tasting at Pix Patisserie. Cheers!

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