5 things Israeli entrepreneurs need to know before coming to America – Part 1
It’s practically every Israelis dream. To come to America to build their company (and make an exit of course).
Now, I’m happy you’re reading this because you need a little marketing facelift my smart, Israeli – “but I know best” – friends. Believe it or not, I’m going to either teach you something new or inspire you to re-think part of your business. My Israeli side feels pretty confident about that.
This article is the first in the series of five things Israeli entrepreneurs need to know before trying to succeed in America.
#1 Tell us a damn good story
If Americans could eat great stories for breakfast, they would. In fact, I would argue that they actually do!
Did you know that there are 387 different types of breakfast cereals sold in the US and that each family on average purchases 17 different brands? Sounds like someone’s eating great marketing for breakfast.
Americans are not like Israeli’s – they don’t take life so seriously and they don’t think everyone is out to get them. They can be a little naïve at times but most of all LOVE a good story. If you don’t believe me, I think the Kardashian’s success is plenty of evidence.
The concept of storytelling as a marketing tool came to me while in Florida watching Shark Tank with my parents on holiday break. During the commercials I saw an ad for Ty, the company well-known for Beanie Babies in the ‘90s, promoting their new cell phone stand Peak A Boo (I didn’t even know they still existed).
After the commercial, I had this “Pshhh” look on my face (any Israeli should know what I’m talking about) because I was surprised by their continual innovation and marketing (Disclaimer: Not because I think the product is a good idea). And then my mom said, “Do you remember how crazy everyone went for Ty Babies? They told the parents it’s a good investment and they’ll be worth lots of money one day.”
My memory carried me back to the toy store where I would buy Ty bears. I wanted them all even though I never got into buying the super expensive ones (strictly for financial reasons). I was always jealous of my friends who had the limited editions worth $200 a pop. They even had clear plastic casings to preserve the bears. My friends and I would stare at each other’s collections saying, “Omg, you’re so lucky.”
Back on the couch with my mom during the holiday, I told myself holy crap – Ty is genius. They freakin’ made STUFFED ANIMALS some kind of CURRENCY. Let’s not forget the fact that the average bear was sold for $15, which even today is quite hefty.
Now, the point of this is not to find a crazy, amazing lie to tell your customers. If anything, I highly discourage this type of marketing. But this is what we can learn from Ty bears and American consumers in general: Give us a damn good story. Make us feel something – laughter, sadness, excitement, jealousy – any emotion. Then follow up with other innovative products or features to capture these sentiments, like an organic lavender infused tissue paper branded with gold flakes for our tears (joking).
Besides the clear plastic cases to preserve the value of the bears, another example of Ty’s ability to generate ’emotional’ revenue emotion is the heart-shaped tag with the Beanie Baby’s personal story. Did “Halo” the angel bear really come from heaven? No. But I’d sure like to think so – which is why I’m willing to pay $20 to reinstate my beliefs.
Think this is a one-off example? Look at how Pandora bracelets are becoming popular with Israeli girls affected by American consumerism. They think the bracelet defines them, gives them something to look forward to – they genuinely believe they’re going to look back 30 years later and be like “Wow, thank God I have my Star of David Charm to remind me I had a Bat Mitzvah.”
It’s a screwed up form of idolatry many people are addicted to – and this story is underlined in your branding, your company’s personality, and it needs to be deeply embedded from the beginning.
Some other good examples of good storytelling are: Dollar Shave Club, Build a Bear, and even newly hyped television series like Serial and Making a Murderer.
NOTE: These ‘stories’ have been implemented differently in each company. In Ty it was imbedded in their marketing tactic. Pandora had it imbedded in their product customization. Companies like Dollar Shave Club imbedded it in their genius advertisements.
So the question that I leave you with today is “What’s your company’s story?”
Clue: It’s in you mission statement, but it has a twist…
If you need help finding it, email me [email protected].