September 30, 2009
The other day I was waiting in line at Starbucks and noticed a display of coffee mugs that were selling for $8.95. My first thought was that another coffee cup was the last thing I needed. And, if I were going to buy one, I likely wouldn’t pay full price. I’d look around for a mug with a bright red price sticker on it because, after all, a mug’s a mug. Right?
Maybe not. Alongside the mugs, I noticed a conspicuous display card containing a bit of background information on the mug. It read:
Made by potters in Toki City, Japan, using techniques passed from generation to generation for more than 400 years.
No longer was this “just another coffee mug.” It was a unique piece of pottery that had been crafted by artisans with specialized knowledge that had been passed down from one generation to the next. And no longer was a selling price of $8.95 too high. It appeared reasonable, given the origin and craftsmanship of the mug.
Now, I have no illusions that this mug will appreciate in value and one day become a collector’s item worthy of a display case in the Smithsonian. That’s not the point. The point is that this commodity, a coffee mug, had been transformed into a piece of art by simply adding 19 words of unique knowledge.
Unique knowledge is interesting, unexpected, and adds value to the customer experience. It’s not ordinary or predictable. It’s sexy in the sense that it attracts attention. You notice it. It’s unique and memorable.
Consider your own products and services. How can you add value by including unique knowledge—a story that will captivate your customers, reposition your offerings as anything but commodities, and justify your price premiums?