A Company's Unusual Competitive Advantage
Most of us are familiar with the Old Farmer's Almanac. That little book that predicted the weather almost 2 years before it happened, contained articles on everyday topics like gardening and cooking, short stories and a separate section that focused on upcoming lifestyle trends. Most of us also remember the hole it had in the upper left-hand corner of the book. But do you know why it's there? And if you do, why is it still there today?
So there you have it! That hole had a practical purpose in the lives of those it guided and the publishers understood that. Years later, that pre-drilled hole is one of the main reasons it outlasted all other versions of the Farmer's Almanac.
Judging by the reader comments found on the company website, it's obvious that they still love this little book.
"I LOVE 'The Old Farmer's Almanac'...I keep my copy,,in ,, you guessed it, the bathroom...shhh, don't tell everyone!!
Anyway...we all love it here in our house..it make good reading, in , well all places..:)
I also use MY copy in the kitchen. I love all of the recipes..from 'days gone by' a lot of the time...thank you 'old farmer's Almanac'."
"I am 74 years old and have bought a copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac since, I think, 1949. Haven't missed a copy yet."
By the 1990s, the use of outhouses wasn't common and the company thought that the hole no longer served a purpose, so it stopped drilling it and saved $40,000 per year on drilling costs. Subscribers reacted and became very protective: "It was an overwhelming response. 'Save the hole.' 'Leave that hole alone.' That's what readers were telling us," says Ginger Vaughan, a spokesperson for the company.
This "hole" is still something readers want, even today. For them, it represents authenticity and has become part of the brand. You can purchase your copy from their website... choose from several options, one of which comes with a free hole! Adorable.
Branding doesn't have to be complicated. It can be practical and simple.
This year, The Old Farmer's Almanac celebrates its 225th year with a special anniversary edition of the book, also available in digital format and it comes with (you guessed it) a "digital hole".
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner