Marketing in small towns and… cookies.

In my hometown, there’s a cookie factory that everyone knows and loves. With more than one century, the company is generally recognized by the quality of their products, as well as the way they promote themselves as a traditional brand. Besides the flavor of the cookies, they do a very interesting job by keeping the original packaging and using retro references on their design. Doing so, they end up valuing the cookies and delighting tourists who find their boxes on the cities’ shops.

But, here’s what I find more interesting: the cookies that get broken during the cooking process are usually put in transparent bags with stickers and sold as “Partidos”, which, in English, would be something like “Broken Cookies”.

I love “Partidos” and I’m not only one. In fact, they’re quite popular among locals. Besides being much cheaper, they’re as tasty as the regular cookies. But the funny thing is that, for some reason, no one knows the cookie bag by its real name. Instead, people prefer to call it “Raleiro” (which is not even a word).

Although I don’t know the exact reason why the false name became so popular, I imagine that that happened thanks to the power of referral. In a relatively small town, people usually know each other: my grandparent, for instance, is really close to their neighbors. They go to the same shops, recommend products to each other and, yes, they eat the same cookies.

The question I think we all should make is if we should embrace the name people give to our products or if we should stick with the original one instead.  Wouldn’t it be good for the brand to speak the same language of their customers?

Marketing in small towns

Before I came to Angry Ventures, I helped small companies creating and improving their online presence. Of course, we had to make them aware of the potential of the digital era. But, despite their size and context, when working on the actual digital strategy, we usually went for big and standard things.

Were they the best way to go? Well, recently I read a very good story written by a friend of mine (I don’t remember the exact details, but I’ll try to tell it the best as I can). while working as a communication manager in a local organization, she was presented with one of those tasks that seem impossible: it was Friday and she had to announce an event for the next day.

The local radio wasn’t answering the phone and, though social media was an option, most of the people living in the town didn’t use Facebook a lot. After a few moments of despair, she spoke with a guy that told her that her task was really easy.

“Easy? Are you kidding me?”, she asked. Well, according to the guy, all she had to do was speaking with the priest. In the end of the mass, he would speak about the event. Simple, easy, effective.

To wrap it up, the important lesson we can take from small towns is that channels we usually consider to be the best sometimes simply don’t work. When that happens, instead of thinking out of the box, we should think inside of the context. In this cases, a very small context.

So, if people go to church and they like cookies, why not to play by their rules? After all, isn’t that what marketing is all about? People, time, context.