Can You Replicate Gary Hirshberg’s “Religious Moment”?
Gary Hirshberg, who recently stepped down after decades as CEO of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt—the company he founded—carries a memory that would make any executive’s heart gladden:
Recently, I was standing in a Florida supermarket reading the label on a Yoplait yogurt cup because I was curious about a new ingredient the company was trying. An older customer walked over to me, touched me on the elbow, and said, “Young man, someone your age really should be eating the Stonyfield.” Her comment was akin to a religious moment for me. However, I regained my composure quickly enough to ask why she thought I should be eating the Stonyfield product. Her remarkably well-informed answer can be summarized this way: Since I apparently have a few decades left in me, I can make them more enjoyable and productive by eating organic foods. Plus, I will get the extra bonus of knowing that I am supporting a company that cares. This lovely woman certainly sold me.
Isn’t that every marketer’s dream? To have a total stranger come up to you and tell you that you MUST buy your own product, because it’s so much better? WOW!
So how can you generate that sort of love for your own products? How can you turn random strangers into fervent evangelists for you?
I give some answers in my latest book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green—but I’d love to make this a broader conversation. Please post your ideas in the comments.
(Author’s note: I heard Gary tell this story in his interview on the Spring of Sustainability series. I contacted Stonyfield’s publicity department to get the exact quote, as it appears in Gary’s book, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Used with permission.)