Talenti: A Delicious Marketing Success

Marketing Masterpieces: short essays on product marketing

This is the first of what I hope are many excursions from the usual subject of B2B product and content marketing. Today we are going out for dessert. I hope that’s okay with you!

I love frozen treats, so I was really excited the first time I had delicious gelato from Talenti at a dinner party. The product is first-rate, but there is a lot of premium ice cream and gelato here in San Francisco. What really got me was Talenti’s unique packaging: clear jars with understated text and images, with the product totally visible from the outside.

From the Heart of Texas

Talenti is a classic story of start-up perseverance. Company founder Josh Hochschuler started the company in 2002 as a retail store in Dallas. After years of struggle and multiple brushes with bankruptcy, the company pivoted to a distribution model and reached $1.2 million in sales by 2007. Hochschuler then teamed up with Steve Gill and Eddie Phillips, the founders of Belvedere and Chopin vodkas, and from there everything changed.[1]

With an injection of capital and new distribution muscle, Talenti took off. Sales roughly doubled each year, reaching $120 million in 2014. In December of that year, Unilever bought the company for an undisclosed sum.[2]

How did an upstart like Talenti become the hottest thing in cold treats? The product is great, but that doesn’t matter if no one tries it. The secret is in the packaging.

Everyone Loves Jar Jar

Market research confirms that many consumers first bought Talenti because of its packaging, clear plastic screw-top jars which provide a literal insight into the product. Hochschuler wanted product displays to mimic the case full of colorful flavors in a gelateria.[3] Not only did he succeed at this goal, he got more than he bargained for.

The Talenti jars live much longer than the gelato (especially in my house!) They are incredibly useful for a variety of other things. Last year, I worked in an office where one woman brought homemade soup for lunch in Talenti containers. They were just the right size, easy to carry and hand wash, and inevitably sparked conversations about the wonderful gelato that came in those jars.

With such great “accidental marketing”, it’s no wonder Talenti grew 100% a year in a slow-growth industry, largely by word of mouth.

It’s Clear: Be Transparent

We can take two valuable B2B marketing lessons from Talenti’s success:

  • Be transparent with customers to win their trust.
  • Be so useful that your customers are compelled to share you.

Retail purchasers are four times more likely to buy products in clear packaging.[3] Yet most software companies have a hard time providing “clear” views of their products. When we go window shopping on the Internet, the software we’re considering is mostly hidden from us. We can see feature lists, testimonials, live demos, and even free trials – but does any of this have the magnetic pull and implied brand promise of a perfectly marbled Caramel Cookie Crunch gelato?

Usually, we hide our software behind many opaque layers. But why do this if our customers are going to love it? Why not strip away the gates in our marketing funnel and let them drool over our great software? There must be a way to do this – right?

A Talenti jar can get used over and over, tempting us to buy more gelato every time we use it to take leftover chicken to work. And then the jar can start a truly “viral” pitch, when a colleague asks about it. But B2B companies struggle to go viral. Even with all the marketing channels available to us, no billion-dollar budget is half as valuable as talkative, happy customers.

How can we put our B2B brands somewhere that millions of people will naturally see them, because our customers find our products too wonderful not to share? This is possible – isn’t it?

If we can apply the lesson of Talenti to our marketing efforts, then the outcome will indeed be sweet.

Talenti gelato is an example of great marketing packaging


[1] Got a whole gelato love – Fortune

[2] Unilever buys Talenti gelato e sorbetto for undisclosed sum

[3] Talenti Gelato’s Clear Packaging Advantage – Businessweek

Graphic designed using Cool Text: Logo and Graphics Generator

Put Information at the Heart of Content

Make sure your marketing content is informative

I love the classic Simpsons episode in which Springfield is suddenly overrun with advertisements for something called Gabbo. Newspaper ads ask “Who is Gabbo?” while billboards scream “Gabbo is coming”. It’s a perfect send-up of a viral marketing campaign, beguiling and yet frustrating at the same time. The ads offer exactly zero information about who or what Gabbo is (a ventriloquist’s dummy, as it turns out).

This TV send-up offers a cautionary lesson for the real world. Viral marketing can build excitement, particularly for a consumer product. A tease can be effective for drawing potential customers to your website. But it is not the same as content marketing.

Eventually, you need to provide the information your prospects need. If you wait too long (maybe just a few seconds nowadays), your hard-earned eyeballs will go somewhere else. You must immediately begin to offer the information your prospects need. For better or worse, your customer is not Homer Simpson, endlessly staring at a newspaper trying to figure out what your attention grab is about.

Good content must be focused on enabling your customers to make a purchase decision, or take whatever other action you want your customers to take. You can introduce information with a viral pull – but don’t confuse “Gabbo is coming” with an effective pitch.

Data, Data, Data

The central purpose of great messaging is to provide the information your customers need to know about your product. After all, the “I” for “informative” is at the center of MEDICAL.

Providing useful facts is the best way to inform your customers: There is no substitute for hard data to prove your point. If data is not available, anecdotes and customer testimonials are better than nothing. Your customers need to know something important about you, and ideally something that is different from your competitors.

You want to be more informative than the fictional studio executives behind Gabbo. But you also don’t want to whack your customers over the head with details they don’t need and can’t prove.

So what’s a good balance for an informative message?

3-2-1 Contract

I think about a 3-2-1 guideline for the elements of information that should be in a brief piece, such as a two-page sell sheet.

  • Your reader won’t remember every detail you provide. While it may be important for you to list many points (such as specifications of your product), make sure you have no more than three facts you want your customer to remember about your product. These facts should focus on the value you are providing, a value superior to the competition or the status quo. Use data wherever possible and use whatever metrics are standard in your industry. (E.g., “according to Gartner, our product provides an ROI 70% faster than the industry average.”)
  • Whatever these facts are, drive them home by repeating them – if it’s important, say it two times. A summary or a call-to-action is a great place to provide your repetition. (E.g., “Contact us to find out more about the product with 70% faster ROI.”) Do not repeat yourself too often or without context. It’s been done and isn’t fun for anybody.
  • To get your customer to take action, your message must provide the one measure you want your customer to evaluate you on – the one most critical way in which you are better than the rest. You could win on price, performance, quality, reputation, or any other dimension. Without focusing on how you win, your message will fail to resonate. Your reader needs to know the one reason they are using your information in the first place. (E.g., “business executives seeking a faster ROI use our product.”)

The 3-2-1 approach makes it easier to remember the elements of an informative message. Adjust it as fits your specific needs, your medium, and the space you have to work with.

Be Informed

Your message is informative if prospects and customers are asking you the questions you want them to ask you. In the example above, the value proposition is a faster ROI. If your materials using this message are properly informative, you can expect prospective customers to ask how they will achieve this quick return.

Or suppose your message is about the superior quality of your product. Informative marketing materials will prompt your customers to ask you about quality – even better, to believe your product has higher quality without further proof! Market research can confirm if such impressions are catching on.

It may seem like only a dummy would neglect information – so don’t forget this critical part of your content.

Have you ever seen a business pitch that left you wondering what the product was, and why anyone would buy it? Tell us about your favorite head scratchers in the comments.