Personal Branding: What a Fudge Shop Can Teach Us

Aside from arbitrarily lobbing “fudge packer” as a derogatory term at my junior high friends and coming within a fun sized fudgicle of juvenile diabetes in elementary school, I know little...

Aside from arbitrarily lobbing “fudge packer” as a derogatory term at my junior high friends and coming within a fun sized fudgicle of juvenile diabetes in elementary school, I know little to nothing about the confectionary creation. Sure I’ve been to the Hershey factory, but like a seasoned brewery tour veteran I Candy Crushed my way through the obligatory chocolate making process PowerPoint to save my energy for the free samples.

It’s safe to say fudge hasn’t crossed my mind since roughly the Clinton administration. That is until this a few days ago during a long weekend at a small east coast beach town (Newport, RI for you geography buffs). They might be known for their seafood but Newport’s main export is pure American fudge. On every god damn corner there is a Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe, a Fudge Factory or Konfectionary Kitchen. It’s the stuff dentist’s second homes are made of.

Like a bad Economist Expose, questions began to run through my head … Was there a fudge union? Has this off-shoot of the lollipop guild ever been on strike? Do these shops use FIFO cost flow assumption? How many of these kiddie cook houses are drug fronts? And most importantly, what kind of strange do you have to be to open a fudge shop? Were all the local Chuck E Cheeses franchise snatched up?

Not one to overlook a learning opportunity, I couldn’t help but think what personal and business acumen, particularly marketing our respective businesses and ourselves, I could glean from these packers of fudge …

Science is a bitch.

Fucking evolution, man. Right after we washed down a gallon of lobster bisque in a sour dough bowl with a bunch of clam fritters, we still can’t help but play just the tip with a free sample piece of soft, moist chocolate semi-solid. Our brains make us want all types of shit, CONSTANTLY, harkening back to the Land of the Lost when finding a berry sent us from six to midnight. Use that to your advantage, whether it’s bringing in carbs to feed your hungry, hungry minions or keeping your drooling for your product …

Which leads me to my next point …

Crack kills.

You know what sells? Addictive products. Smokers buy cigarettes religiously, fat people buy gas station hot dogs at an alarming clip and Tiger Woods solicits sex like Rick James mainlined cocaine …

Make sure your product or self is addictive (not necessarily chemically, think: Apple products) and irreplaceable with any inferior iteration …

Evoke an emotion.

Does anyone actually like fudge? Fuck no. And it’s for the same reason you can’t buy salt water taffy at the movie theater – it’s not THAT good. But salt water taffy evokes a memory of copping your first OTPHJ under the Boardwalk on the Jersey Shore. So when you’re back there with your 2nd wife and step-kids, you’ll buy a box to get your Uncle Rico on and relive the glory days. If you can appeal to one’s emotions, you can get them to do whatever you want, whether it’s buy your product or get that incredibly pathetic raise that isn’t commensurate with your workload …

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Have you ever met an angry person who was peddling fudge? No you haven’t. Sure this might be the same talent pool for Walmart greeters but no old lady wrapping a pound of fudge has had bad customer service bone in her body, or ever once thought even the brattiest of kids was in the wrong. Put on a happy face and leave your perspective clients with a good taste in their mouth, whether they are good, bad or otherwise …

Thou shalt not underestimate.

Don’t underestimate the power of an influencer. So what if the influencer weighs 64 pounds soaking wet and still pisses the bed from time to time? Parents will do anything to shut kids up, even if it means dropping a cool Benjamin on Bottle caps, Smarties and homemade fudge. Remember, humans are easily swayed by other humans, so if one won’t give you what you need, use the power of persuasion …

Supply and demand.

But Tyler this is an economic theory! For the same reason your mom buys you a “My Mom Went to Florida and All She Got me Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirt, you’ll purchase at least a sampler of fudge when you go to your pre-established preferred beach town. You don’t particularly like the taste, but you don’t know of a fudgery in the tri-state area. You’d much rather let the preferred candy of 1937 get maggot infested in your cupboard than be without it. Make sure clients or personal connections NEED you or your product, not just want it …

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