Lessons From Coca-Cola; Part I

10.24.2019 - Summarized by Kaetlyn Bennett

J: Welcome everyone! A while back, Zachary started a blog series that went through some of the largest, most successful brands in the word. Since moving to the video and podcast formats, we’ve studied Harley Davison, as another successful company that we could learn from in mapping out success for newer businesses. Today, we start the Coca-Cola series. We’ll go through several of the reasons that Coke is successful as a brand and as a business. Let’s get started: While Coca-Cola may have stumbled on to their product, they did not stumble onto their brand. Their brand has been crafted and maintained through professional, proactive teamwork over the course of many years. But let’s start with the beginning, Zachary:


History of Coca-Cola (2:20)


Z: In 1886, Coca-Cola is the invention of a pharmacist named John Pemberton. He was known as Doc and like many, he served in the Civil War, and at the end of the war with the south in dire economic conditions, he decided to invent something that would bring him commercial success.


J: However, everything he made failed in the pharmacies. He invented many drugs, but none of them ever made him any money. After a move to Atlanta, to take place in “the new south” Pemberton decided to try his hand in the beverage market. He was trying to sell ‘French Wine Coca” …which was a rip off of the very successful Vin Mariani when several cities, including Atlanta had decided to “go dry” and Doc could no longer use wine as the base for his concoction. So, he decided to use the flavors that he had put together to mask the taste of the coca-leaf and Kola-nut into a new beverage that used soda water as its base. Since Temperance was keeping patrons out of the bars, making a soda-fountain drink just made sense. Pemberton dispatched runners from his basement to Willis Venable’s soda fountain (a very popular soda bar on the first level of Jacob’s Pharmacy) with small samples of his concoction for taste tests by the customers.


Lesson #1 and #2 (6:49)


Z: Okay, so let’s stop and talk about what we’ve learned so far. First, he was aware of the economic environment. Now you can do this today by joining an industry association, subscribing to industry magazines and websites, and networking with other business owners in your area. It’s really about research, observation, paying attention, and brainstorming based on those conditions. Professionally, we call this conducting a market analysis. We recently conducting a marketing analysis for a new company that had the idea of developing a QuickBooks service company. In that analysis, we looked at the local economy, the need for his proposed service, his competitors, and what his potential customers would be looking for in a new business in his niche. With Coke, Pemberton then took his lightning in a bottle idea and tested it in the marketplace. This is what we now call Consumer Research. We have lots of tools and methods that we use for consumer research including: man on the street taste test like he used, focus groups, web surveys, and more. Gathering input from your potential customer base is imperative when getting to know them and developing a targeted customer profile. At Reformation, this is the main focus of the Listen stage of Straight-Line Marketing. So, Coca-Cola, in their early years, were following along with, or establishing, this best practices of today. Right?


J: Well, that’s the official story from Coca-Cola… but legend has it that Doc was still developing drugs and that his syrup was being made as a remedy for headaches then Venable, the soda fountain shop owner, “accidentally” served the new syrup with carbonated water instead of tap water and poof, Coca-Cola was born. But the company maintains that that’s just a rumor and that the plan from the very start was to squirt it into a glass and spritz it with cold, carbonated water from the fountain. Either way, this was when Coca-Cola was born. However, Pemberton had no idea how to market his new business. So, he partnered with Frank Robinson. Pemberton understood one of the most important aspects of owning and running a business was communicating his business to the public. Communicating your business is what fuels the operation of the business… and keeps your doors open. So, with product in hand, he took the initiative to hire someone to help him with just that. Robinson: registered Coca-Cola's formula with the patent office, designed the famous Coca-Cola logo and script, and wrote their first tagline: "The Pause That Refreshes."


Lesson #3 (11:58)


Z: And there is Lesson #3 – Understanding the need to tell people about your business in addition to running it. He knew that he was not an expert in marketing… he was an expert in pharmacy. So, he outsourced this, very important aspect, to a professional who was an expert in business communications. Today, we have marketing agencies that are devoted to business communications and the best ways to accomplish getting a company’s story out there to the public. Now we didn’t talk about how he side-stepped the vendors that could have promised to do different aspects of communicating his business. We’ll just note that he hired someone that understood the big picture – all of it - and how to accomplish it.


J: Let’s take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and then we’ll be right back to get the Straight Shot from today’s episode.


Straight Shot (13:47)


J: So, these are the first few lessons we can pull from the Coca-Cola story. #1 base your business on the needs of prospective customers.


Z: They couldn’t drink alcohol, so come up with something they can drink.


J: #2 – Product testing.


 Z: Make sure what you are offering is something that your customers want to buy.


J: And #3, business has two sides…innovation and communication.


Z: Pemberton handled the innovation and partnered with an expert to handle communication – the marketing of his business. Many business owners don’t launch their idea as clinically as Coca-Cola says they did. Often the idea will come as a surprise, much like the rumor that Coca-Cola denounces. However, the idea is born, it is then considered from a business perspective. There is a difference between a hobby and a business. Hobbies are done for fun or enjoyment alone. Some hobbies make money yes but that isn’t their primary goal. A business however takes into consideration many more aspects and proactively plans how they are going to be successful in the marketplace. Some would call this “taking it seriously.” But I think hobbies can be somewhat serious. It’s really about taking interest in following the correct steps and making the right investments to bring your business to the marketplace framed for success and setting the correct goals for doing that. So, in your business, if you haven’t already, you need to make that decision. Are you content to have a hobby whose goal is self-enjoyment? or Do you want a business whose goal will be reaching a larger marketing, probably for profit. Before you spend any money investing in your project, set this in your mind. Because it changes things. Owning a business, while fulfilling, is often a lot of work. You have to be prepared to put in the necessary work. Finding a professional to help is a smart investment, but you have to have the correct heart-set up from to keep everyone from wasting time and money. I tell people, “I can direct you in what to do to build and grow your business, but I can’t make you do it.” That will have to come from the business owner.


J: What’s the cliché – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.


Z: Same principle, yes.


J: So that’s the straight shot. – so today we got 3 lessons and a straight shot! So, I think that’s the close of our episode today. Tune in for the next episode of Straight Shot marketing podcast where we continue in the Lessons From Coca-Cola series. And don’t forget, please like or subscribe wherever you listen to podcast, on YouTube - click the bell to get notifications of when we release new episodes. You can also signup for text notifications by texting the word Reformation to 90210. And sign up to support us on patreon.com/straightshot Our patreon friends get early access to episodes, exclusive content, and Straight Shot merch. Check it out.



Category Straight Shot Marketing Podcast


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