Marketing Lessons From a Theatre Style Popcorn Machine

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One of the interesting gifts my children received for Christmas was a mini theatre style popcorn popper from their grandparents.  It’s not full size like a theatre one, thank goodness!  It’s about twice the size of my coffee pot and has claimed it’s own permanent spot on my kitchen counter.

I am perfectly capable of making popcorn on my stove top in a pot.  Okay, more like 70% capable and 30% of the time I burn it and have to start again… oops.

Still I had to wonder why I should have an entire new appliance to cook one thing…  until we used it for the first time.  It’s easier than popcorn on the stove top and I haven’t burnt a batch (yet).  Plus, it’s cute with it’s bright red theatre vibe and it’s fun for the kids to watch the popcorn pop out of the kettle to fall into the tray below.

As I waited for popcorn to pop the other night I realized it illustrated a couple of marketing lessons.

Actual need is irrelevant:

Actual needs are food, water, shelter, clothing.

A popcorn machine is not a need but it’s now sitting in my kitchen instead of in the store and here I am telling you about it which shows they’re selling and getting talked about even though there’s no real element of need.

Did my kids need a popcorn popper?  No.  Do they love it? Absolutely.  If they’d seen it in a store, I’d have been hearing “pleeeease mommy” for the next hour.

Their “want” would have become a “need” in their little heads.  It happens in bigger heads, too.

How many people “need” to buy into the latest online multiplayer game craze or Apple’s latest (admittedly always awesome) product?  How many would say they “need” it?

Wants are what sells:

It’s about what people want and they want an experience.

My parents know my kids love to go to the movies.  It’s a treat and reward for them on the occasion Hollywood produces something fit for children to see.  This gift recreates a little bit of that at home.

How can you turn what you’re selling into an experience people want, which they turn into their own “need”?

Skeptics can become fans:

Experiencing a product/service can be what it takes to convert someone from skeptic to fan.  It took cooking one batch of popcorn to change my mind.

What can you do to offer that taste or experience of what you’re selling that will convert people?

So, do you have any unnecessary but well-loved items in your kitchen?  Tell me I’m not the only one with crazy small appliances in my kitchen that talk to me about business and marketing lessons… has your coffeepot or toaster oven shared any insights lately?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sophie Zollmann. Sophie Zollmann said: RT @MichelleShaeffr: Blog: Marketing Lessons From a Theatre Style Popcorn Machine #blogboost […]

  2. My daughter’s hair straightener shared an insight with me once and I incorporated it into an e-course. License plates have shared insights in the past as well. Nothing in my kitchen though . . . yet :).

    1. Cool – so where’s this e-course because now I’m curious! :)

      It’s it funny how the illustrations can hit us from the most interesting, unrelated things?

  3. Michelle, I suppose my appliances and kitchen goods have talked to me in a way. It has been different for me. It was the items that I do not use. They hang out, I kept them “just in case” but since just in case seldom actually happens I decided it was time for them to find homes with people who will use them. Such it is with marketing. If there is a marketing method that we have, but do not use, why do we hold on to it with the insistence “just in case.” For whatever reason it does not fit our personality or our goals.
    It is the same with the information we read. Glean from it what is useful for you, then dismiss the rest rather than let it clutter your mind and worries. Yes, you use the popcorn maker, but why hold on to the corn cob corn bread pan that you are never going to use. (guess what I got rid of…) Let it go. If it is something you can pass on to someone else who can, then do so.

    Sorry that may have drifted subject. :)

    1. Great lesson, MJ. And so true. While I am focusing on growing out of my comfort zone this year I also realize that some marketing methods just don’t fit me, period, and I’ll leave those behind. Don’t save things for a rainy day – use ’em or get rid of ’em. Don’t need that clutter in the kitchen (or our businesses)!

  4. I miss my air popper. We need to get a new one.

    For the most part, I stay away from single-use gadgets–when someone gave us a bagel guillotine, we rather quickly gave it away and went back to a knife–but there are exceptions. We really do make a lot better crepes i our crepe pan (which has no electronic or moving parts but is the perfect shape to make a stove-top crepe).

    You’ve tapped into a famous construct: marketing things we want but don’t need, and positioning a superior experience for an ordinary event (and being able to charge premium for it). Think Starbucks vs. truck driver coffee of ten or fifteen years back.

    1. I’ve never tried a crepe pan, but since I’m less than successful with crepes perhaps I should give that one a try. :)

      Great example with Starbucks vs truck driver coffee. Thanks!

  5. Michelle,

    I love your sense of humor!

    Right now, I really want some popcorn made from a mini theater style popcorn popper! Good sell!

    This is a great post. Important insight to realize that what people want is an experience. That’s what we all want.. Experience of love, joy, success, good relationships, optimum health, adventure, fun, etc…

    Thanks for sharing the popcorn popper’s wisdom! Great questions about offering something that can help skeptics to become fans and wants becoming needs.

    You really have such helpful posts! Thank you!


    1. Thanks, Crystal. Yes it made me crave popcorn, too.

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