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Newsletter #819: The “Do It Differently” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right

If it isn’t remarkable, it isn’t worth it. If you’re making something, make sure it’s wonderful, outrageous, purple, strange, smelly, delicious, or meaningful. Don’t stop until it’s different.

A few ideas to get you started:

1> With flavor
2> With memberships
3> With menus
4> Check it out: Google’s Art Project

1> With flavor

Fans of Jeppson’s Malort, a Swedish-style schnapps brewed in Chicago, know they’re a rare bunch. As Jeppson proudly proclaims: “Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate. During the lifetime of our founder, Carl Jeppson was apt to say, ‘My Malort is produced for that unique group of drinkers who disdain light flavor or neutral spirits.'” They don’t just acknowledge the strong taste of their liquor, they’re proud of it — they even have Flickr groups and online videos dedicated to the unique face first-timers make when sampling the stuff. Most people don’t like it, but those who do are intensely loyal and share their love for it with friends.

The lesson: Don’t try to make something for everyone, make something for someone.

Learn more: Vimeo

2> With memberships

Usually when you become a gym member, the gym wins if you don’t show up very often. It puts the customer and the business on opposite sides of the table even before you start. But two Harvard grads are reversing this. With their gym program, the more you work out, the less you pay. But if you miss scheduled workouts for anything other than illness or injuries, you pay a fee. It’s an experiment in motivation, but it could fundamentally change how membership programs are designed.

The lesson: Instead of creating a buffet-style membership (where you win when they use less), create a system where you both can win.

Learn more: The Consumerist

3> With menus

Most restaurant menus have at least a dozen more items listed than they should. At celebrity chef Charlie Palmer’s new DG Burger, there’s just one burger on the menu: his Black Angus burger topped with cabbage, tomato, red onion, and a secret sauce. It’s probably tempting to add other burgers — ones with different sauces, buns, and toppings — but Charlie knows this is his masterpiece, and he doesn’t want to distract customers with burgers that aren’t as good.

The lesson: Great focus makes a great brand. Selling things that you can’t make amazing only get in the way of the stuff you’re truly great at.

Learn more: Nation’s Restaurant News

4> Check it out: Google’s Art Project

Google’s Art Project is as if someone drove the Street View van through some of the world’s most famous art museums. From the Palace of Versailles to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, there’s a lot to explore.

Check it out: Google’s Art Project

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