What do Coors Light, Red Robin and Quiznos all have in common? — Gerry O’Brion.

Gerry worked for each company in a major marketing role, serving as vice president for two of the three, and made big moves for each.

At Coors, he helped develop the “frost brewed liner” marketing campaign that included the image on the can changing colors when the beer was cold enough to drink (more on this later).

At Quiznos he almost doubled their customer base through the Million Sub Giveaway.

And at Red Robin he helped launch a new tri-fold menu that had a major impact on their bottom line.

I had the privilege of watching Gerry live on stage at the HARDI Annual conference in Austin, and he knocked it out of the park. Here were the major takeaways from the keynote.

Give your customers more of what they want, and less of what they don’t.

Seems obvious. But many of us are spending too much time working on things that our customers don’t care about, and not enough time on what they do care about. Ask your customers what they need more of and give it to them!

Ask your customer: "What would it take for us to be your only contractor/supplier?”

This question might sound absurd, and sure, it might not be realistic. But just ASKING your customer this question might unveil more information about how you can improve on number 1. And who knows, maybe you can make it happen.

What is your “because”?

When your customer calls you and asks, “Why would I choose you over your competition?”, if your response doesn’t start with “Because” and “We are the only company that…” then you are not any different than your competition.

Let’s unpack this.

First, how important is having a “because”? A Harvard University study from 1977 shows it is extremely important. In the study, a researcher asked if they could cut in line to make some copies on a Xerox machine. Here were the results:

  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the Xerox Machine”? — 60% said yes.

  • “May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” — 94% said yes.

  • “May I use the Xerox machine, because I need to make copies?” — 93% said yes!

The study showed that people only need to hear the word “because” to be convinced. It doesn’t matter if your reason is important.

Let’s look at a couple examples that Gerry gave during his keynote.

Take a look at Papa John’s logo:


This logo tells you that Papa John’s has better pizza, “because” they have better ingredients. Pizza Hut didn’t believe them so they sued, but Papa Johns won because they used fresh tomatoes and filtered water. The lesson here is to make sure something is actually different, though it doesn’t have to be major.

What about Coors Light?

In 2012, after much debate about a new marketing direction, they decided to focus their brand around cold beer. “You should drink our beer because it's the coldest beer."

The problem here is no one will believe this story without more information. How would a Coors light can be any colder than a bud light bottle siting next to it in the same cooler?

Source: Gerry O’Brion

Source: Gerry O’Brion


This is where the blue liner comes into play. The liner that “locks in refreshing frost brewed taste.” Every beer company uses a liner in their aluminum cans, but Coors painted their liner blue, and then said they have the coldest beer BECAUSE of the blue liner. Now the 21-year-old male can tell himself a believable story that Coors is colder (and maybe that it even tastes better) BECAUSE of the liner.

What story are you telling your customer? What is your “because"? Are you the only company that…?

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Brad Telker
Vice President, Applied Systems Group at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of Commercial Sales, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys reading, running and spending time with his family.