December 6, 2016

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Ivory Soap

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This business didn’t know it had a killer product –
until it read about it in the mail.

Here’s how listening to your customers can make you a success.

James and David Gamble were proud of their Proctor & Gamble business and the white soap they produced. But according to a famous story, an accidental formula change launched it to even greater success.

As the story goes, one day in 1879, a Procter & Gamble foreman accidentally left a soap mixer churning too long. The machinery whipped excess air into a batch of Ivory. But the mixture looked good – so he poured it into soap molds.

Weeks later, customers started writing P&G asking for more of “the soap that floats.” That puzzled managers, until they learned about the accident. But instead of chastising the worker, they capitalized on his mistake. They modified their soap formula, added “it floats” to their advertising, and launched Ivory soap into the history books.

The story was accepted by the public – and the company – for 126 years, until 2004. That’s when a company archivist said he discovered documents showing the change was actually intentional.

However they gave Ivory soap its floating properties, that singular distinction brought the company great success.

Ivory Soap’s creators exemplify one of our Business Axioms For Entrepreneurs:
Think unique. Go intentionally against the grain.

Ivory, the floating soap.

Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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