Hoist a Cold One to Results!

By Jeff Blackman

In the early 1900s, Claude Hopkins was one of the world’s greatest advertising copywriters. His words and ideas transformed products and services with weak revenue histories into cash cows.


Because Hopkins knew how to capitalize upon the powerful, yet often overlooked, obvious or commonplace aspects of a product or service.

Here’s how Hopkins turned turmoil into triumph for one of his advertising clients, Schlitz.

Schlitz was a major Midwestern brewery, deeply and frustratingly entrenched in fifth place amongst beer manufacturers. Part of the problem was that Schlitz, like all brewers at that time, was exclaiming that its beer was “pure.” While this was true, the word “pure” meant nothing to beer drinkers, because every manufacturer made the same marketing claim.

Hopkins knew he could only create a vast distinction for Schlitz if he could discover something unique, out of the ordinary, or even commonplace about Schlitz — something the beer-drinking world didn’t yet know!


Hopkins began to hang out at Schlitz. He asked questions. Lots of them. He snooped around. He was like a detective in search of the missing clue.

Here’s “the evidence” uncovered by Hopkins’ research and curiosity:

He soon learned that, at least in the early 1900s, brewers all pretty much made beer the same way. That’s why they could all proudly boast their product was “pure.” However, they didn’t tell you how their beer became “pure.”

Hopkins jumped on that oversight. And he turned it into a powerful, profitable and pre-emptive advantage.

Hopkins began telling the beer-drinking world about how:

  • Schlitz was brewed through great filters, filled with white wood pulp.
  • The pumps and pipes were cleaned twice daily to avoid contamination.
  • Elaborate machinery cleaned every bottle four times.
  • The Schlitz artesian wells were dug 4,000 feet deep into the earth’s surface to discover pure water.
  • The beer was aged in vats for six months.
  • The unique flavor of Schlitz was developed from a mother yeast cell that was the result of 1,200 experiments.

While other brewers continued to yell that their beer was “pure,” Hopkins simply told beer drinkers, in exacting detail, how Schlitz became pure.

Within two months, Schlitz ascended from fifth place to within dollars of first place. And all because Hopkins knew how to describe the common, in an uncommon way.

And here’s another lesson: He did it first!

Profit Points

1. Closely examine your business, products and services for specific, overlooked or forgotten benefits. Then, translate these “hidden assets” into market-driven and customer-focused messages that drive home value and benefits.

2. Ask your customers what they value most about what you do and how you do it. Then, strategically and positively exploit those advantages.

3. Itemize. Get specific. Tell folks a story “in detail” about your uniqueness.

4. Get “fresh feedback” on your business from customers, advisors, vendors, etc. You likely have bias, pre-disposition and a “that ain’t a big deal” perspective. Let others help you “find the missing or the obvious.” This turns lost opportunities into new customers and new dollars. (I remember helping one client transform a “freebie” service into a major annual revenue-generator. I simply asked, “How come you do that?” and “What might happen if … ?”)

5. Turn your new knowledge into decisive action. So you too, can hoist a cold one to results!

Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, bestselling author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. In 2008, he was Vistage’s Fast-Track Speaker of the Year. Jeff’s clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Please contact Jeff at jeff@jeffblackman.com or via jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. You can also “connect” with Jeff at LinkedIn or “follow” Jeff at Twitter.
Originally published: Feb 15, 2012

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