Won’t turn pink in the can

Once Upon a time

There is an apocryphal story about a tuna canning factory in the early 20th century. Canned salmon was the top-selling fish in most of the US A tuna cannery executive compared all the characteristics of his tuna to the characteristics of canned salmon. One of the biggest differences was color. The tuna was white and the salmon pink.

Rather than trying to convince prospects why they should buy tuna over salmon, he simply added a great headline to all of his tuna ads: “It won’t turn pink in the can.”

Tell the truth

The beauty of this phrase was that the advertising executive was making a factual statement. He left the reasoning as to why it was factual for would-be consumers. The salmon was pink when the can was opened, did that mean something was wrong with the fish? The can? The whole process of bringing salmon to consumers?

This story has been told in many different ways: tuna vs salmon, white salmon vs sockeye salmon, even albacore vs pink tuna. It doesn’t matter which version you have heard or which version you say. While the topicality of this story has been discredited several times, the truth of what remains. So much so that in the past two decades, actual marketing executives have used phrases like “A fat-free food” on packages loaded with sugar and carbohydrates (the human body stores them as fat), or “No added sugar” or ” No added salt “in foods naturally loaded with those ingredients.

These are simple examples, ones that are close at hand that I can extract and show you. However, not all examples have to have the negative potential that these phrases have.

Be assertive

I mention this because I have a potential customer who is looking for a way to differentiate their products from their competitors. You don’t have to make sentences that start with “We are different because …” or “We are better because …”

Find something positive to say about your product or service, something that sets you apart from your competition, and ask it out loud and proud. Choose something irrefutable, something that cannot be proven to be false. Use this as your positioning statement and make sure your truth sets you apart from the competition. After that, it’s up to you to tell prospects why that position is better or better than the competition.

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