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Greater Taters

Saturday afternoon. Approved list in hand, dad (me) is off to the grocery to get the family some food for the week. Fruit – check. Milk – check. Bread – check. Ooo – look at that!  The product that will make dad the hero of dinner time to my wife and kids – Tater Tots shaped into letters. List be damned, into the cart the tater tots went.

Why did I feel compelled to buy letter shaped tater tots? Marketing!

I have two little ones who are fascinated with spelling. My 3 year old son in particular loves letters. “Daddy, how you spell Google chrome?” is a common utterance in the Bowman household. What parent does not want to encourage their kids to be interested in reading, spelling, and education?  Not only do my kids love to spell, they are sometimes hard to please when it comes to dinner. Overall they are pretty good eaters. Still, they are kids, so mealtime is frequently an adventure in dining. As a parent I will take any advantage I can get in an effort to get the kids into the clean plate club. Enter letter shaped tater tots into the equation.

Upon arrival at home, I quietly stashed the tots in the freezer. (the tater tots that is, not my children) When it was time for dinner, I called the kids to the table and told them I had a big surprise. Along with the hamburgers and fruit that was on their plate we were having something else. I then opened the oven and revealed the crispy potato alphabet that was waiting to be devoured. They were excited beyond my expectations. “Letters!” “We can eat the letters!” Dancing, yelling, spelling, and general mayhem then ensued. Totally worth the 3 bucks I spent on silly letter shaped potatoes – which were actually eaten too!

This product is an example of great marketing. Marketing as described by Seth Godin in his great book Free Prize Inside. Marketing that had nothing to do with advertising.   Marketing that sold a product to someone who was not previously aware of it or interested in buying it.   Marketing that made two kids excited about eating dinner.  Marketing that created a great experience for a dad. Marketing that is now generating positive word of mouth for Ore-Ida… for free.  Marketing that was as simple as potatoes and the alphabet.

I could have bought un-brand tater-tots at a lower price.  I could have bought the better tasting “crispy crowns” for the same price.  I could have ignored them all-together and just stuck to my list. However, Ore-Ida was smart enough to know that mom’s and dads sometimes buy things for other reasons – experiences, surprises, education, & the off chance of a successful meal.    Because of this understanding, they created a remarkable product, made the sale, and got me talking about, of all things,  tater tots.

What can you do to make your product or service appealing to people in a different way?