We were driving west on Interstate 70 between Indianapolis and St. Louis. There, near mile marker 120 in Illinois we saw the sign.
“See the World’s Largest Wind Chime in Casey, Illinois”
I was on vacation with my family and the possibilities were so intriguing we couldn’t resist. We had to take the exit for Casey to go see the World’s Largest Wind Chime.
A short two-mile drive off the interstate and we were in the heart of the small town parking in front of the Whitling Whimsy; the restaurant next to the huge wind chime. Walking up to the wind chime is somewhat awe inspiring.
It’s 55 feet tall!
Naturally, we all had to pull the rope that makes the chimes clang together. The chimes sound more like church bells. What a fantastic, sensual experience!
As we stood gazing at the wind chime and taking pictures we noticed another sign;
"See the World’s Largest Golf Tee at the Casey Country Club."
Upon investigation, we discovered that, not only does Casey, Illinois have the world’s largest wind chime and golf tee, it’s also home to the world’s largest rocking chair, mailbox, knitting needles and more! These ‘World’s Largests’ have made the once dying town of Casey, famous. They have reinvigorated the local economy. These novelties have become so noteworthy the town and its attractions were featured in a segment on CBS Sunday Morning. (see the video below)
While visiting Casey we spent time and money that, prior to us seeing the sign, we weren’t intending to. It’s been six and a half years since we were there and we still talk about it. That’s the power that using the creative thinking method called MAGNIFY can have!
What is the MAGNIFY method?
It’s a method of thinking creatively that can help you discover new ways to position your current offerings. It can help you innovate. Magnify is taking the whole or some part of your subject and greatly enhancing it or dramatically upping the scale.
Those world’s largests in Casey, Illinois are an obvious example. Some others are:
- The show that ran on The Travel Channel for eight seasons, Man vs. Food. They took eating to an extreme and created a successful niche show. Some people thought it was stupid, but one thing for certain; it was uncommon.
- The ridiculously large baked potato on the back of a semi-truck for the ‘Grown in Idaho’ campaign. According to the site, BigIdahoPotato.com, “It began in 2012 as a one-year campaign to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission and became quickly apparent with its success that it would be more than a one-year occurrence, it literally became a big piece of pop-culture.”
- The rock band KISS. They revolutionized what a rock and roll concert was. Almost single-handedly they created the rock and roll show experience by employing this strategy. Prior to them, most bands just stood on stage and played. KISS reimagined a concert as theater.
Most people think of the band for the over-the-top characters each member created with their unique make-up. But, at their shows you would also see flames and explosions, a flying drum kit, a guitar on fire and more. You never knew what you’d see and that was part of the appeal. Some people loved them. Others hated them. But, almost nobody ignored them.
It's Not All About Size
A Magnification doesn’t have to be something humongous in size. It could simply be magnifying existing features. In 1971 Gillette introduced the Trac II razor. Prior to that every method of shaving – including the safety razor King C. Gillette invented in 1901 – had only one blade. It was the accepted norm. The Trac II doubled that and, just as the safety razor had done, fundamentally transformed the world of shaving.
FedEx magnified the speed at which packages reached their destination.
Super Glue magnified the strength a glue had. This altered and expanded glue’s applications.
A beer brand from Anheuser-Busch, Natural Light, once upon a time sold a 77 pack! It was a novel way to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the brand’s launch in 1977.
You might wonder what sales of the Natural Light 77 pack were. But, guess what? That’s unimportant. Offering their product in packaging that was SO far from the accepted norm garnered massive free publicity and resulted in more brand awareness than almost any amount of advertising could have accomplished. I’d call that a brilliant strategy, wouldn’t you?
Here are some questions we use when developing strategies for clients or conducting a Creative Thinking Training FUNshop using the MAGNIFY method.
- What can be added?
- Can we provide or take more time?
- Could we make it stronger?
- Is making it higher a possibility?
- What if we made it longer?
- What can be exaggerated?
- What features could be overstated?
- How about greater frequency?
- If we add extra features, could that make our product/service unique?
- What can add extra value?
- What can be magnified, made larger or extended?
- How can something be carried it to a dramatic extreme?
I hope using this method helps you see previously unexplored possibilities and ways to differentiate yourself and your company.
As Seth Godin said in his epic TED Talk from 2006, in order for your ideas to spread they must be ‘remarkable’. He expanded on that comment by saying that what he meant by remarkable was that they were worth remarking about. Having something that is magnified is a fabulous way to get people to pay attention. To stand out in a crowded marketplace. To rise above the noise and become...remarkable!