Dunkin Donuts spends more than $100 million each year on advertising in the United States. Tim Horton’s has the airwaves covered in our neck of the woods. Someone should have told Paula’s Donuts to close up and look in the Want Ads. But something else happened instead. The tiny, and until recently single location, Paula’s Donuts,became insanely popular. Cultish. I’ve never met Paula and she may give you a completely different reason for their success than I will. But this is it.
First, for the record: Paula’s Donuts are incredible (chocolate cream is my all time fav). But people have fantastic products all the time and don’t turn any heads.
The giants, Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts can’t defend their position as doughnut champs. They want to be all things to all people. They want to sell flatbread sandwiches, paninis, mocha lattes, lasagna, and everything under the sun.
They gave up that spot in your mind as being the best in the doughnut business and Paula’s was perfectly poised to snatch it away. They do ONE thing very well. Instead of making a cheap little doughnut to sell to as many people as possible, they make small cakes in doughnut form. They do something not just well, but DIFFERENT. Different, not well, is what makes people talk about you. And people can’t stop talking about Paula’s.