Robby Fowler Articles

Grandma’s Foolproof Marketing Recipe

Who can resist Grandma’s famous recipe?

I can’t. I gave in again last week. Here’s how I succumbed…

The Same-Old Dog and Pony Show, Right?…

Cosmo’s bowl was empty. And so was the clear, plastic food container left of the bowl. Cosmo is our golden doodle.

Time for another routine run to the local farm supply store for dog food. Like an old dog trick, I’ve done this dozens of times. I know right where his food sits in the store. Second row on the right. Top shelf. The light blue bag third from the end.

Like any other day, I grab two bags and toss them into my cart. Wheeling around, I head for the register. To no ones’ surprise, I see one lane open. My car clock read 12 past eight when I pulled into the near-empty parking lot. The hum of the fluorescent lights begins at 8am when the store opens. No wonder it was sparse.

The only minor surprise came as I pulled my cart into the lane for checkout. I found the usual twenty-something cashier replaced by an older woman instead. Smiling, she began our obligatory conversation.

“Find everything ok today?” she asked with a noticeable sincerity.

“Yep”, I replied, forcing the makings of a smile. (I’m not much of a morning person.)

I pulled out my credit card as two beeps sounded from her UPC scanner. She asked if I had a rewards card with them. I had the same question posed to me each time previous. (Corporate training at its finest.)

As before, I said no to the inquiry, deflecting it with the ease of a superhero shunning bullets. But I wasn’t prepared for the display of power that happened next.

Don’t panic. I’ve got Grandma’s recipe for you to download and use.

Can Grandma School You in Irresistible Marketing Like She Did Me?

In the past, my simple “no” did the trick. But this cashier was different.

She is someone’s sweet, amazing, grandma. I could just tell. Her age. Her warmth. Her charm. And Grandma’s are notorious for irresistibly delicious recipes—the kind that gets their grandsons’ in hot water as newlyweds. (The new wife asks, “So how is it?”, over a plate of chicken and mashed potatoes. The foolish groom’s reaction screams, “…not as good as my Grandma’s.”)

On this morning, this Grandma used an irresistible marketing recipe on me and I ate it up. Right there in the ubiquitous farm supply store.

It only dawned on me once I reached the solitude of the front seat of my car. She totally sold me. And I’m glad she did.

Want to know how she did it? Her simple recipe is one you and I can follow in our own marketing.

Let me outline the steps…

Grandma’s Delicious Marketing Recipe: Your Step-by-Step Guide (Only 6 Key Ingredients)

Here’s what made her recipe so scrumptious, I had to indulge. There are six key ingredients.

Ingredient 1: Fresh, Natural Personality

When the cashier asked me about the rewards card, her personality came through, not corporate’s. She sweet, kind, slow, and steady as she asked and followed-up. With a genuine smile, she looked me in the eye. (That’s a rarity in this age of screens.) She spoke to me, not at me or through me. I doubt her tone or delivery would be any different over a cup of coffee in her kitchen. Most of all, she was natural. There was not a hint of genetically modified ‘sales’ aroma in the air of our conversation.

How to use personality to flavor your marketing: Be yourself. This is especially important for personal brands or smaller companies. Small-to-medium-sized businesses have the luxury of personhood and personality. You’re not a global corporate conglomerate. Embrace it. Leverage your personality. Don’t hide it, fake it, or parrot someone else’s in your marketing.

Ingredient 2: Perfect Timing

If there’s one thing every wonderful grandmother has in spades, it’s experience. With all that life comes a knack for timing. Grandma knows the right time to bake the cookies. When to share a nugget of wisdom tucked into a story. When to distract you with a request for help on her crossword puzzle.

In my case, I was at the register staring at a screen showing how much I owe for dog food. Those two barcode beeps happened in a flash. Up popped the grand total. (When you buy real dog food with real ingredients, you pay for it.) This moment of monetary reckoning proved the perfect open door. She sensed the same and offered me a simple way to save some money with a rewards card.

How to bake-in perfect timing to your marketing: Connect your marketing to a pain point. The obvious opportunities are when you can save your customer time or money. Use your marketing to show customers how you can help when they are staring at the prospect of spending time or money. But don’t neglect more subtle chances to up the flavor. Consider ways you improve your customer’s identity. Can you help them feel more productive, included, qualified, smart, safe? If so, tell them when they feel unproductive, excluded, unqualified, clueless, or exposed.

Ingredient 3: Easy-to-Follow Directions

A great recipe is only as good as the directions that come with it. Many of us as kids enjoyed the patient, gentle, step-by-step guidance of Grandma in the kitchen. I’ve witnessed my own mom show far more patience with my kids over a mixing bowl than me.

In my case, the cashier told me exactly how the rewards card works in clear, simple language. “You can signup with just your name, email, and phone number. Only takes a minute,” she offered.

How to create simple steps with your marketing: Tell your customers in simple, plain language how you solve their problem. In the Storybrand framework, this is known as “The Plan.” Regardless of what you call it, your marketing should spell the process out in easy steps. For example, my website says I help clients in 3 steps. We work together to create:
  1. Clear Messaging
  2. Trustworthy Branding
  3. Converting Website & Marketing

Ingredient 4: Sticky-Sweet Honey (Yummy!)

‘Honey’ is more than an endearing term Grandma drips from her sweet smile. It’s nature’s sweetener. Honey makes every recipe better. You won’t find Grandma skimping on sweet. (She leaves the sugar curtailing to Mom. A key benefit of grandmothering compared to mothering.)

My cashier knew exactly how to make my mouth water. She made me aware of the sweet benefits I got with a rewards card. Honey is to sweetness what Savings is to shopping. I wish I had a dollar for every dollar my wife “saved” on a 15%-off sale. If Grandma knows every kid loves a sweet snack, this cashier knows every shopper wants to savor some savings. So she told me. “Our rewards card helps you save money. Right now you’d get $10 off this purchase,” she assured me. Honey to my ears.

How to sweeten the deal with your marketing: Explain the benefits your customer gets by choosing your product or service. Don’t waste marketing on bland descriptions. My old preaching professor said, “Interpret the passage, don’t describe what’s there.” Which of these sounds more appealing to you?
    Get 12 homemade chocolate cookies in a decorative package.Ready for tastebud heaven? Bite into our just-baked gooey chocolate-chip cookie. Your mouth will be eternally grateful.

    Ingredient 5: Risk-Removing Reassurance

    There’s something magical and believable about Grandma’s reassurance. Mom says, “Go ahead. You can do it.” And you bark back, “No, I can’t!” But Grandma says it like a warm biscuit and honey. “Go ahead, darling. I’m here. I know you can do it. Ride that bike.” And off we go. A lifetime of experience helps Grandma spot our holdups and hiccups.

    Boy did my cashier spot my hesitation. I hadn’t said a word with my mouth, but she read my body language. With the honesty of Andy Griffen, she assured me, “This is NOT a credit card. I would never ask someone to sign up for a credit card.” Then she explained that the card simply tracks what I buy so I get discounts tailored to me. She knew I didn’t care about discounts on random farm supplies for horses.

    Before you go all Big Brother watching my every move on me, give me a second. Grandma knows what you need. Let’s break this down first, then I’ll show you how she took care of this too.

    How to reduce the risk-factor with your marketing: Parting with hard-earned money is hard. Your customers have holdups and hiccups. Use your marketing to name those fears. Then tell them how you remove the risk. This is a great way to serve them. By naming your customers’ felt risks, they know you care. By reassuring them with your marketing, you help real people who can benefit from your offer.

    Ingredient 6: The Chef’s Taste Test (For a Dash of Believability)

    You try it first dates back to the first recipe. But a tried-and-true recipe in the hands of Grandma is a race to try it first. That’s because Grandma has baked this cake before. She knows the recipe and the result. Behind every whisk of the batter and dash of seasoning is trial-and-error. She baked this cake to woo your grandfather. She baked this cake on your mom’s first birthday. Yours too. She’s tasted it. And it is 100% delicious, guaranteed.

    Now I’ve been around the marketing merry-go-round a few times. I can smell a sales pitch like fresh-ground coffee at sunrise.

    But, she caught me off guard.

    She hit me with what one friend calls The Gift of Going Second. She put both hands on the counter and said, “I use it all the time. I used it to save money before I ever even worked here.” She was offering me a reward card through the eyes of a caring Grandmother, not a corporate quarterly goal. She already had a piece of cake and knew I’d like it too.

    If that wasn’t enough, she added “One lady saved $30 on the dog food she buys last week. And another older gentleman got $10 off on his dog’s birthday.”


    How to put the proof in the pudding with your marketing: Add testimonials showcasing the benefits or achievements of others. Notice, I didn’t say testimonials with generic braggadocio about ‘how great you are to work with’. I didn’t hear my cashier say, “Two people signed up last week and said I made it quick and painless.” She told me how two customers with dogs, buying dog food, benefited from the card. Testimonials are powerful. The best ones brag about what your customer achieves, not niceties about you.

    Mix these ingredients into your marketing to add gospel flavor. Your customers will eat up the good news as you serve them and help grow your business.