20 November 2011

Justin Foster Is Interesting. Oatmeal Is Not.

Earlier this week, I promised a post about one of the authors or books that I've worked with.  One of those authors is Justin Foster, and I've had the opportunity to work with him on several projects and books, including his own.  Below is an article that originally appeared in the winter 2011 issue of Fusion Magazine.  Be sure to read the entire article -- there is a giveaway at the end!
“Bacon is interesting. Oatmeal is not.” Such is the premise of Justin Foster’s book, Oatmeal v Bacon: How to Differentiate in a Generic World. Foster, a Boise area resident, brand strategy expert, speaker, writer and “general disruptor of conformity” is known for his ability to help brands communicate how awesome they really are. Or, as Justin might put it, how “Bacon” they really are.

Oatmeal v Bacon is a useful, interesting and witty 65-page book that will “instantly make [business owners] smarter than most of the people in their given market,” Justin says. The book includes a “Bacon Assessment,” personal branding assessment and benchmarks to help businesses evaluate their brand effectiveness. And, who wouldn’t want to read a book that is, as Justin puts it, “short, humorous and useful”? It includes practical strategies to help “Bacon Brands” embrace their sizzle and take their branding efforts to the next level, thereby attracting customers and improving client loyalty.

So, what does this metaphor really mean, anyway? “Selling the Oatmeal,” according to Justin, is trying to sell something boring—a brand, business model or product—using boring strategies like “a PowerPoint, overly-designed marketing materials that nobody ever reads and a pitch.” Justin’s “Aha!” moment came one day while watching Jim Gaffigan do a bit about bacon. “Oatmeal,” Justin realized, “is boring, bland and you have to put something on it. Bacon is…bacon.” Or, as Jim Gaffigan put it, “Bacon is so good they wrap it around other meats to make it taste better.” So, “Bacon Brands” are interesting brands, brands that are different and unique. Oatmeal brands are boring, generic and create little to no interest from their prospective customer base. “As pollen is to bees,” Justin says, “bacon is to people.”

When asked about what local companies Justin considered to be Bacon Brands, he responded quickly with his top five, which he explained received a 45 or higher out of 50 score on the Bacon Assessment. Those brands are:
           Brick 29 Bistro in Nampa
           Flying M coffee shops in Boise and Nampa
           Tribute Media, a Meridian-based web marketing and web development company
           Bodybuilding.com, a Meridian-based, supplement e-commerce company
           Fisher’s Document Systems, a Boise-based regional document systems company (note: they are one of Justin’s clients)

According to Justin, “It’s the businesses that advertise the most that seem to have the hardest time retaining their customer base, because they don’t know how to create differentiation, loyalty or connect emotionally with clients.” He wanted to help these businesses. After realizing that, due to the sheer number and varied budgets of businesses, he couldn’t possibly help everyone, he finally said, “I guess I’ll just write a book.” So, he did, over a period of three months, devoting Thursday afternoons to crafting a useful, enlightening and practical book that he could offer to these businesses. The end product is just that, and the demand has been so great that Justin is already working on his next title.

Oatmeal v Bacon, which started four years ago at the suggestion of his Boise-based publisher, Maryanna Young of Aloha Publishing, is finally available on Amazon for $15.95. To get your free copy of Oatmeal v Bacon, be one of the first five to respond in a few sentences to the following question: “How is your brand a Bacon Brand?” Just go to the contact form at www.OatmealvBacon.com and enter your response in the “comments” area.


Justin is a brand strategist who helps clients create a meaningful, relevant presence in the marketplace by “blowing stuff up” and helping clients find real strategies for taking their brands to the next level. He lives in Caldwell, Idaho, with his wife, Lynna, and two kids. He is available for speaking engagements and consulting through his business, Foster Thinking. To contact Justin or learn more about Oatmeal v Bacon, visit www.fosterthinking.com and www.OatmealvBacon.com.

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