Putting My Suggestions Where My Mouth Is (or something)

I was challenged by a couple of anonymous commenters on yesterday’s post to come up with tchotchkes that were a tad more practical than underwear.  Ha!  I accept the gauntlet you have thrown down, varlets!

Picture frames (especially with photos):  at Whitehill, we had a tremendously successful trade show gimmick. (Actually we had several, but this post is about effective give-aways only).  In our booth, we would erect a photo studio-like backdrop of whatever city we were in – the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign if we were in Vegas; a Bourbon St. street sign if we were in New Orleans; etc.  We would then provide “props” for visitors to don – gold-rimmed sunglasses in Vegas; beads and boas in N.O., etc.  We would then take a digital photo of the booth visitor standing in front of the scenery, and print it immediately.  THEN, (and here’s the magic), we would put the photo in one of those cardboard frames you get from photographers.  Except the FRAME had our logo embossed on it.  So the people would take their slightly humourous, but work-related, frame back and put it on their desks!  So they, and everyone who walked past, saw our logo every day for months.  In case you can’t picture what I’m talking about, here’s an example:

Now in this case, the it’s the photographer that is marketing himself, but you get the idea.

Telescopes: Once, at Maximizer, we sent our CEO on an executive cruise aboard the Queen Mary off New York city.  The idea was that a whole bunch of prospective customers and partners were going to be trapped with you for several hours.  It was very expensive to join this excursion, so why not put a little extra dough into making sure people remembered us afterwards?  We had actual working (pretty damn good working, actually) telescopes logoed and gave one to everyone who was a target.  I still use mine, and I bet the majority of other recipients do, too.

Mittens:  I have never actually used this one – I just dreamed it up now.  Here in Canada, every sentient being possesses some variation of Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics mittens.  Granted, this idea wouldn’t fly too high in Vegas or N.O., but if they’re good quality, they’re something that people will use often in colder climes.  And even if they just turn into “trash” mittens, like the jacket in my last post, they’ll still stick around and get used for a while.  And think of the novelty at a trade show – “Did you visit the brooXmark booth yet?  They’re giving out MITTENS!”

Fridge magnet clips:  Tried and true, but still effective.  A good quality, attractively designed, FUNCTIONING, fridge magnet with a clip attached to it, is a valuable possession, but oddly one that few people will actually go out and purchase.  So give them one with your name written on it!

Enough free advice.

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Good Tchotchke (or is it Schmata?)

Yesterday, my wife, daughter, dog and I went apple picking.  This is an annual tradition, which I have written about before.  The reason I am gratuitously posting this picture of my beautiful daughter, Bishop; our beautiful dog, Gloria; set against a beautiful autumn sky; taken by my beautiful wife, Cindy; is because of the decidedly UN-beautiful jacket I am wearing. 

Here is a detail of the logo on the breast:

It’s for a company called Thiessen Team that provides underground mining supplies like drill bits, drilling fluid, etc.

Here’s the thing – that jacket is over 20 years old.  I won it playing in a golf tournament sponsored by Westmin Resources’ underground mine in Myra Falls, BC, when I worked there in 1990.  I was just a management consultant, but since I went 4,200 feet underground for 12 hours at a stretch with the REAL miners, they humoured me.  The jacket was donated as a tournament prize by one of the mine’s main suppliers, Thiessen.

I long ago stopped wearing it as a “real” jacket, and its use was curtailed to cold-weather messy-work.  That’s why, if you look closely, you will see paint stains on it.  I was wearing it yesterday because I had spent the morning shoving wet leaves into recycling bags.  But I still have it, still wear it, and (occasionally) display it in public.

Sadly, many logoed items that are given away at trade shows and other events (like golf tournaments) are a WASTE OF MONEY because they are designed to be consumed and/or discarded immediately.  One that I have the most contempt for are logoed food items like miniature candy bars.  The people to whom these are given are reminded of your company for exactly one bite.

This jacket has reminded me of Thiessen Team for 20 years.  Admittedly, I am not likely to buy any hardrock mining drill bits any time soon, but what if the recipient of this prize back in 1990 was now a mine foreman, or manager, or purchaser?  You can bet that he/she would at least consider  Thiessen for their next purchase.  So if that jacket cost $40 (wholesale) in 1990, how much potential sales might it have generated by now?

So, (free advice coming, and you know what that’s worth) if you are considering give-aways, think of something with long-term usefulness.  One example I like are those little alligator clip photo-holders (seen at right).  I have one on my desk right now. 

Some things that people might THINK are good ideas, rarely work.  Pens, for instance.  Sure, in theory, a pen is something someone will keep and use for weeks or months, but your average North American already has dozens of pens, and usually has a favourite one, and you aren’t likely to usurp that title.  “Stress balls” are another popular tchochtke, but who is going to leave one sitting on their desk?

Given that my post is about the effectiveness of a jacket, my next bit of advice may surprise you:  do NOT give away T-shirts.  They are so ubiquitous, and their design so un-inspired, that they end up being garage rags.  The very rare circumstance where they will work, is if you ALREADY have a “tribe” of supporters, who will gleefully wear your colours.  If you must give away clothing, make it something useful or valuable.  Like a jacket.  Or even underwear – you’ll lose the “broadcast’ value, but at least the wearer will think of you once a week or so.  And before you laugh too hard, remember my earlier advice:  if you are marketing to the right person, they’re the only person you have to worry about reminding…

Justified Arrogance

Every once in a while, if you truly do something better than anyone else, it’s good MARKETING to tell folks about it.  This image was captured on live TV during the Montréal Canadiens victorious 1993 Stanley Cup series against the L.A. Kings.  (Full disclosure: I am a big Habs fan.)

The situation was game 4, when the series was still very much in doubt.  This was a close game, with some pretty damn good hockey players, including Luc Robitaille, Tomas Sandstrom, and (you may recognize this name) Wayne Gretzky, taking shots at goalie Patrick Roy.   There was a particularly intense barrage near the end of the third period.  As Sandstrom skated past the net between plays, Patrick gave him the now-famous “wink.”

Arrogant?  Yes.  Effective?  Probably.  Good marketing?   ABSOLUTELY.   As I’ve written about before, my philosophy about what makes the best marketing in the world, is telling people what you are going to do (or at least try your best to do), and then DOING it.  Saint Patrick was promising Mr. Sandstrom that he would not allow him to score a goal that night.  And Tomas didn’t.  Promise made; promise kept.

If you would like to see “the wink” on tape, check this link.  It’s a rap music (oxymoron?) video by a gentleman named Annakin Slayd, that is about the Habs’ drive for the 2010 Cup, and includes “the wink” at the 2:23 mark.  It’s actually quite a catchy tune, and has some awesome hockey footage if you choose to watch the whole thing.  Don’t miss Maurice Richard’s space-and-time-bending move at about 0:18.  I don’t think Mr. Einstein’s ideas about the speed of light apply on that deke.