On Getting Customers and Shlissel Challah – BizTorah

shlissel challahWe all know that we have only seconds to get customer’s attention. We don’t always know how to do it.

Think back to your childhood. How many of your parents’ talks do you remember? What about hands-on projects, outings, trips? Were those more memorable?

Human beings (kids and clients included) are wired to seek novelty. They prefer experiences over words. This is especially true in our too-much-communication, short-attention-span society.

Open your local Yellow Pages on a random listing and you’ll find rows upon rows of what seems to be identical companies trying to get customers with almost identical ads. Check out ten websites from a single industry and they will be very much alike. Within every niche, companies use identical marketing strategies, template copy-writing  and generic stock photos. Imagination and business don’t seem to mix. Is it any wonder then that companies have such difficulty standing out?

To stand out and get customers’ attention, your business needs to offer them memorable experiences that are different from the run-of-the mill stuff everyone else is using. Let’s face it: customers don’t have the time to read your copy, unless it’s extremely engaging.  Tell them how great your product is and they’ll run the other way. Invite them for a fun experience, show them something out-of-the-ordinary and you’ll get their attention.

Learning Marketing from experiential Judaism

On the first Shabbos after Pesach, many families have a tradition of baking shlissel challah, a key-shaped challah loaf perceived to be a segula for financial success. Some people shape the challah loaf into a key; others bake a key inside their bread dough. As with any other custom, i doubt baking such a challah is enough to make you rich, but I still to do to “market” Judaism to my kids. And the rite can give you ides for getting customers to pay attention to your business.

As a high school student, I remember Rabbi Naftali Harcsztark suggesting that we seek “positive Jewish experiences.” A consummate educator, he understood that the more we link Judaism with sensory experiences, the richer our spiritual baggage would be. Kids don’t thrive on rigid intellectualism (and many adults don’t either). On the other hand, colorful customs create a rich cultural tapestry kids can take with them when they leave homes. Years down the road, the site of a key, the smell of dough, or the taste of fresh bread may help your child relive the fond childhood memories of Shabbos.

A story is told of a simple man buying a scholarly siddur with hundreds of pages of commentary preceding the prayers. The storekeeper asked the man why he needed such an elaborate prayer book. “It’s for my children,” the man answered. “They are small and rip pages out of books. If I buy them a regular siddur, they’ll rip out the pages of davening. But in this siddur they can rip out many pages and they still won’t get rid of ‘Adon Olam.’” (Adon Olam is a play on words meaning the first prayer in the siddur and also a reference to the Master of the World).

If we only keep the letter of halachah at home, if our kids rebel or stray away, they’ll be cut off from minimal Jewish observance. On the other hand, enveloping them in fun experiential Judaism will not only reinforce their spirituality, but hopefully will help them remain on the path in turbulent times.

Make your company Memorable

What holds true for kids holds true for clients. If your business doesn’t offer anything beyond standard service, it’s interchangeable with hundreds of others. There is little reason for potential clients to choose you over competition. Even if a client does choose you at random, he needs a compelling reason to stay with you over time.

One simple way to stand out, attract attention, and foster customer loyalty is by making your service or marketing experiential and out-of-the ordinary.

Here are some ways to getting customers to take notice:

  1. Deliver it differently

One way to stand out is to deliver your product or a service in a way that is different from everyone else. One real estate agent I know has created a mobile app that allows clients to access listings on their smartphone, instead of having to go through the browser and visit numerous pages.

Here’s another more visual example:


If you know the first thing about vodka or have been exposed to popular advertising, you don’t need a label to know that’s a bottle of Absolut Vodka. The unique design of the bottle that stands out among the generically shaped bottles.

2.      Link your company with an experience

Another way to stand out is to link your service, packaging, or company with creative, imaginative projects. This doesn’t have to be related to your industry in any way. Absolut was able to turn its unique bottle into a cultural icon by sponsoring art projects focused on the bottle.

3.      Tell a story

People love stories. They always get our attention. Think of some non-fiction books you have read. You may not remember all the teachings and principles, but chances are you remember the story surrounding the author’s Aha! moment. You may not know all of Newton’s laws of physics, but you do remember the part about an apple falling from the tree. If you have a story about how you got into your business or how you developed your specific methods for doing what you do, share it. You can also create a mascot or a storyline to illustrate the unique benefits of your service.

Here’s how one company did it.

4.      Provide your clients with an experience

In many industries you can create an experience that will help you engage clients. For example, in the food industry it is common to offer tastings. However, a workshop (pizza baking, ice cream decoration, chocolate making) is much more effective. For real estate agents, home showings are standard. A more engaging experience would be to hold weekly or monthly neighborhood outings, where potential buyers could get a taste of what it would be like to live in the area, complete with a BBQ at a local park or complimentary tastings at local eateries.

5.      Give clients a present

About 10 years ago, I took an aerobics course at Studio C, a poplar Israeli gym chain. The sign-up present was a full-size high-quality bath towel I still use today. Consider giving your clients, promising leads, or people referring others to your business a thoughtful present with your branding. The present should be something they can use for a long time or share with someone else (thing word-of-mouth). And no key chains and mouse pads don’t cut it.

The only tool you need to make things more compelling for your clients is imagination. If you don’t feel creative, enlist some friends to help you out.

And if you still want to bake shlissel challah, here’s a Whole Wheat Challah recipe.

What’s your favorite example of experiential marketing? How will you get your customers’ attention?






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