Looking for the Secret of Success? Learn from Ellis Island.

A few months ago team Clean Bottle went to Las Vegas for a tradeshow.  One night we hopped in a cab, only to discover it was being driven by the most knowledgable / chatty / inappropriate cabbie in all of Nevada.

Cabbie: “You guys looking for strip clubs.  I can tell you all the best ones.”

Us: “Uhh.  no thanks”

Cabbie: “How about hookers?  I can take you to a brothel, although its about $5,000.  Or you can just call up one for about $1,000″

Us: “Thats okay.  We are actually just looking for a place to eat thats pretty cheap and not that touristy.”

Cabbie: “Thats easy.  Go to Ellis Island.  All the cabbies eat there.”

This being Las Vegas, I thought there was an angle.  You see, cab drivers often get paid some type of commission if they bring young men to “Gentlemen’s Clubs” or drop them off at night clubs.  There are so many games that places in Las Vegas play to try to lure customers in, I was sure that this place, Ellis Island, had some type of deal with the cab drivers.  Our cab driver seemed very straightforward so I asked him.

“Why did you recommend Ellis Island?  I know with a lot of these places you guys get some type of cut if you drop off tourists.”

“Yeah you are right, with a lot of the clubs and stuff we do.  But I recommended Ellis Island because it is the best.  Amazing food, amazing prices.  There is a reason that all the cab drivers eat there”.

The comment left me shocked.  And I still can’t get it out of my mind.

As a marketer I am constantly looking for “the angle”.  I’m looking for a way to get people to buy my product.  I run around in a giant Clean Bottle costume in France.  I go on reality TV to pitch the bottle.  I post funny photos of my family.  I do all of this hoping to get publicity and spread the word.

But it wasn’t any angle that made Ellis Island so popular.  It was the product.  We went to Ellis Island the next day and it was truly remarkable.  Great food and great prices.  This was the reason Ellis Island was so popular, not from any marketing gimmick.

Sure – marketing techniques can work.  And there is value in doing them.  But there rarely is any one event that will take a product and make it the next Facebook or Google.  At best, creative marketing can give you a temporary pop in sales.

So what I like to focus on, and what I tell other people to focus on is the product, not the marketing.  Create a product or a servie that is 10 times better than anything else out there and reasonably priced.  Obsess over it.  Don’t compromise.  Then the marketing is easy.  We live in a day where, if you have a truly remarkable product, people can tell other people about it so quickly, and news can spread so rapidly, that the marketing will take care of itself.

Product.  Product. Product.  Its the hardest thing to do, no doubt.  But it is really the only thing you have control over, so it is the thing you should spend most of you time focusing on.

And by the way, next time you are in Vegas, check out Ellis Island.  And tell them Dave sent you!  I’m trying to work our a referral fee with them :)

$1.25 micro brews and amazing food. 'Nuff said!




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