Everyone’s Favorite Word…

I have to admit it – I’m partial to a Coke. I know it’s bad for me. I know airlines use it to clean fuel spills off the tarmac (or was it forensic scientists using it to clean blood off the concrete at murder scenes, I can never remember) and yeah, you can watch what happens when you soak a rusty coin in a glass of it and that’s pretty much what happens to your insides – bla bla bla. Plus – worse than all that, it’s got sugar in it. Sugar is worse than cocaine don’t you know. Actually coke used to be made with cocaine – or so they say. I have to admit to being pretty naive when it comes to the street price of a class A narcotic – but I don’t think using it as a core ingredient in a product that retails for $1.50 is an overly sustainable business model – so switching it out was probably a smart move on Coca-Cola’s part.

But it’s not just me that knows all that stuff. I only know that because everyone tells me. And by everyone I mean the internet. So – that means that everyone already knows that stuff – right?! Surely that kind of reputation can’t be good for business? Well it’s not. In fact – in the mid 2010’s, Coca Cola had a major problem. Their sales had declined every year for 10 years in a row. That’s a bad year, followed by a worse year, followed by an even worse year – every year for 10 years.

So what did Coke do? They didn’t change their recipe. They didn’t launch a new product. They didn’t lower their price. But for the first time in a decade, their sales went up – and not by a little, by a lot.

So what did they do? How were they able to turn around 10 years of declining sales? Why did we all start buying more of their product?

It’s very simple: They put our names on their bottles.

Remember the ‘Share A Coke’ campaign? All of a sudden Coke bottles started appearing in supermarkets with random names on them. You could buy a ‘Luke’ coke bottle, or a ‘Sarah’ coke bottle, or a ‘Peter’, or any one of a hundred other names. I remember when I finally found one with ‘Josh’ on it – I bought three of those suckers – I thought it was great. And it wasn’t just me – millions of other people thought it was great too. Average consumption of Coca-cola products globally increased by 200 million servings A DAY.

The success of the ‘Share A Coke’ promotion is a reflection of something that we’ve known for decades. Dale Carnegie even wrote about it as far back as 1936 in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It’s simply this: People love hearing their own name. There’s something about us that is drawn to people (or products apparently!) that use our name.

So – knowing that; when you meet someone, try to use their name at least two or three times in the conversation. Not only will it help you remember their name in future (which is just good manners) but it’s an easy and effective way to make someone feel special.


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