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Newsletter #1035: The “On the Road” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

There’s so much marketing potential in the quintessential road trip, in traveling, and in serving the people out on the road every day. But it’s about much more than flagging over those out-of-town visitors and people passing through with a bigger, flashier billboard.

Check out these three ideas for reaching people out on the open road:

1. Truckstop doctor
2. Traveling line dancers
3. Restaurant pit stops
4. Check it out: Google Feud

1. Truckstop doctor

One family doctor in rural Virginia posted up shop next to a truck stop to give care to truck drivers passing through town. Dr. Rob Marsh accepts walk-ins from truckers who don’t have the time to schedule an appointment or have a regular family doctor on record. And his convenient location makes it easy for truckers to come in and still make good time on their deliveries. In fact, they’re looking to open a full-service pharmacy in the gas station next door.

The lesson: What markets are underserved in your town? Don’t be afraid to break some of the usual conventions in your industry to reach them.

Learn more: NPR

2. Traveling line dancers

After Fort Worth’s Visitors Bureau discovered that many of the town’s tourists were coming from St. Louis, they sent line dancers from Fort Worth’s famous honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas, to the Taste of St. Louis event. The line dancers acted as ambassadors and showed St. Louis they knew how to have a good time in Fort Worth.

The lesson: Fort Worth did more than just send brochures or travel discounts. They sent an experience to St. Louis to give them a taste of what it’s like in Fort Worth.

Learn more: Ad Age

3. Restaurant pit stops

Recharging electric cars takes longer than your average fill-up at the gas station. So some restaurants like Denny’s and Applebee’s are taking advantage of the time electric car owners need to kill by placing charging stations in their parking lots. That way, when they pull off the highway to recharge, the obvious place to stop is the one that will also feed you while you wait.

The lesson: What one benefit can you offer to get your customers to choose you over your competition?

4. Check it out: Google Feud

This game uses Google’s autocomplete to create a Family-Feud-style game. Pick a category, and then enter what you think are the most popular suggestions from Google based on the word or phrase.

Check it out: Google Feud

Newsletter #1034: The “Two Birds, One Stone” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

When you look at your problems as opportunities, you might find that your issue can be someone else’s solution, your trash, someone else’s treasure, or that by working together you can create a win-win solution.

Here are a few examples of how businesses and organizations are killing two birds with one stone:

1. Nursing homes and student housing
2. Server storage and home heat
3. Safe lots and crime prevention
4. Check it out: Space Invaders typing game

1. Nursing homes and student housing

Students need affordable housing. Seniors need a little company. So to help them both out, one nursing home in the Netherlands provides a place to stay for college students. In exchange for hanging out with the elderly for at least 30 hours per month, students can live in the retirement community rent-free.

The lesson: Just because seniors and students seem like they don’t have much in common doesn’t mean they don’t have similar needs, like an affordable place to stay and some communal interaction. Maybe your customers who seem like they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum have more in common than you think.

Learn more: PBS

2. Server storage and home heat

Companies pay a lot of money for storage and electricity to keep computer servers cool. To cut down on those costs, Nerdalize, a cloud computing company, rents out their servers to homeowners as radiators. The homeowners save on their heating bill, and Nerdalize saves on storing and cooling their computer servers.

The lesson: Where do you see an inefficiency in your business? Are you wasting something that someone else needs?

Learn more: Springwise

3. Safe lots and crime prevention

Police in Hartford, Connecticut, were seeing a spike in crime from shady Craigslist deals. That’s not good for the city or for Craigslist. So the Hartford Police Department opened up “safe lots” located outside their headquarters as a place for people to handle Craigslist transactions. In fact, Craigslist now suggests people consider police department lots as meeting locations on their safety page. Now, people can feel more confident using Craigslist, and the police can keep a better eye on crime.

The lesson: Shady Craigslist deals are going to happen. But instead of Craigslist ignoring the problem or the police department trying to ban those transactions, both parties worked together to give their audience a solution.

Learn more: NPR

4. Check it out: Space Invaders typing game

Z-Type helps you improve your typing speed while you play a game inspired by Space Invaders. Type the words next to each target to shoot.

Check it out: Z-Type

Newsletter #1033: The “Ridiculous Ideas” Issue

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It’s important to test new things, try stuff out, and push the boundaries of what you can do with your marketing. You won’t always come out with a winner, but sometimes you just might think of something so ridiculous that it works.

Here are three examples of ridiculous stuff that turned out to be great ideas:

1. 200-dozen donuts
2. Carrying strangers
3. A book tank
4. Check it out: 3D Sculpting

1. 200-dozen donuts

Last year, Krispy Kreme UK delivered a box of 200-dozen donuts to a job resourcing company’s office in Wales. The 11×3-foot box required eight people to carry it and a big distribution truck to deliver it. They did it to announce Krispy Kreme’s new donut delivery service for weddings and corporate events — and for something as mundane as a new service, they earned a lot of word of mouth.

The lesson: Could they have just delivered 200 regular Krispy Kreme boxes? Probably. But delivering a ton of donuts isn’t newsworthy. Delivering a donut box that three people can fit into turned their new service into a news story.

Learn more: Slate

2. Carrying strangers

When 39 escalators in a Stockholm subway station were out of order, Reebok outfitted a troupe of athletes from a local crossfit gym in their gear and sent them to offer to physically carry commuters up the stairs. They also helped carry their bags, babies, and strollers — but the real spectacle was seeing strangers being slung over another stranger’s shoulder up a broken escalator.

The lesson: That was some quick thinking on Reebok’s part. They took a negative situation in a crowded place with a captive audience and turned it into an opportunity to do something lighthearted and fun.

Learn more: Adweek

3. A book tank

When you think about how to promote World Book Day, you probably think of the usual suspects — like librarians, teachers, and book stores — as the best promoters. But for World Book Day in Argentina, 7UP commissioned artist Raul Lemesoff to build one of his infamous “weapons of mass instruction,” a car converted into a mobile library shaped like a tank. Raul then drove the tank around urban areas and schools handing out the 900 books shelved on the outside of the car.

The lesson: A library shaped like a tank catches people off guard, causes a scene, and gets people to gather around. That reaches a new audience that a typical World Book Day promotion might not reach.

Learn more: Colossal

4. Check it out: 3D Sculpting

This web-based 3D sculpting app lets you manipulate an object using a bunch of crazy graphic design tools. We’re not exactly sure how to use them all, but it’s still fun to mess around with and create weird shapes.

Check it out: 3D Sculpting

Newsletter #1032: The “Lessons from Tattoos” Issue

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No, we’re not going to talk about those companies who give away free tattoos of their logo or the ones who pay people to get one. This is about businesses who have found unexpected ways tattoos can reach people — to help them recover, to detect cancer, and to inspire creativity.

Here are three companies doing remarkable things with tattoos:

1. For rehabilitation
2. For cancer awareness
3. For work benefits
4. Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

1. For rehabilitation

Ugly prison tattoos are a lingering reminder of bad decisions and guilt for some ex-convicts. Even worse, because of the way most of these DIY tattoos were inked, they’re almost impossible to remove with traditional methods. To help people transform these tattoos into something beautiful, Poland’s Pedagogium The College of Social Sciences teamed up with an ad agency, Isobar Poland, and tattoo artists to create Freedom Tattoos. They explain that by transforming the prison tattoos (not just hiding them), ex-convicts feel a sense of personal growth and feel more confident in their rehabilitation.

The lesson: It’s not easy to talk about the nuances of ex-prisoner rehabilitation. It’s much easier to talk about Freedom Tattoo’s mission to turn ugly prison ink into beautiful tattoos and start conversations about the bigger issue.

Learn more: Adweek

2. For cancer awareness/h3>
Tattoo artists are up close and personal with people’s skin all day. So when they see something that looks like it might be skin cancer, Sol de Janeiro, a sunscreen brand in Brazil, wanted to help them out. The company had dermatologists train 450 tattoo artists on how to spot the signs of skin cancer so they can boost awareness while giving their customers some ink. It gave tattoo artists a new way to show love to their clients, and it gave Sol de Janeiro a network of existing talkers to spread word of mouth.

The lesson: Find a group that serves your customers and think of practical ways you can help that group. What can you teach them to make them better at their jobs? What can you share with them to help them show love to your mutual customers?

Learn more: Jellyvision

3. For work benefits

Employees at Imagine, a design firm in Virginia, get an annual reimbursement of $150 from the company to go towards the cost of getting a tattoo. They do it to encourage their employees to be creative both at work and in their personal lives. But the tattoo reimbursement is just a small benefit that helps tell the story of their unique company culture. They also encourage employees to decorate their spaces with their own art and hold a golf tournament inside the office each year.

The lesson: Recruiting new employees, like recruiting customers, takes thinking beyond the usual benefits most companies offer. What unique things could you offer to help you stand out to people looking for a job?

Learn more: GasPedal’s Blog

4. Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

These antique photos of people with tattoos range from the glory days of Sailor-Jerry-style Americana to the days when getting ink made you a side-show attraction.

Check it out: Vintage Tattoos

Newsletter #1031: The “Something for Someone” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Making something for someone is the opposite of appealing to the masses. It’s about making something much more personal, meaningful, and relatable for a much smaller audience — and earning the attention of a much larger customer base in return.

Here are three examples of how companies create something for someone:

1. For their biggest fan
2. For scorned employees
3. For an underserved market
4. Check it out: Sad Desk Lunch

1. For their biggest fan

Dylan, an autistic teenager in Virginia, has had a huge passion for Kirby vacuums his whole life. So for his fourteenth birthday party, his mom contacted Kirby to ask if one of their salesmen could come by to do a demonstration for a flat fee since the family didn’t plan on buying a vacuum. Instead, Kirby sent a salesman for free who gave Dylan a vacuum set as a gift after the demonstration — and like most heartwarming stories, this one spread all over the internet.

The lesson: This kind of thing doesn’t “scale,” giving away vacuums isn’t a marketing plan, and Kirby isn’t going into the birthday entertainment business. This story is just a great example of how doing something amazing for one person can still have a big impact on how people see your business.

Learn more: TODAY.com

2. For scorned employees

Last year, Starbucks began banning their baristas from wearing rings with stones at work for safety reasons, and for a lot of people, that meant taking off their wedding ring. But when Yates, a jeweler in Modesto, California, heard about it, they offered to give away dress-code friendly wedding bands to Starbucks baristas who stopped by the store.

The lesson: While Yates’ promotion may only apply to a niche group of people, they know Starbucks employees talk to thousands of people every day. By turning them into fans, they’re reaching a much bigger audience than just the baristas affected by the ban.

Learn more: Yates Jewelers

3. For an underserved market

In Nigeria, white dolls used to dominate toy stores, leaving most girls with very few representations of their own image and culture in the toy aisle. And when one entrepreneur saw it had an effect on his own daughter’s self-confidence, he created Queens of Africa dolls. The dolls represent three major ethnic groups in Nigeria with a variety of facial features, hair textures, skin tones, and African clothing prints. And three years later, Queens of Africa dolls are outselling Barbie in Nigeria.

The lesson: When you see a void in the market, chances are, you aren’t the only one. By offering Nigerian girls dolls that represent their uniqueness, Queens of Africa obviously struck a nerve in the country that got parents’ attention.

Learn more: ELLE

4. Check it out: Sad Desk Lunch

Running late to work, no time to make lunch, and no time for a decent lunch break? We’ve all been there, and this is what it looks like.

Check it out: Sad Desk Lunch

Newsletter #1030: The “Lessons from Blue Bottle Coffee” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Blue Bottle Coffee isn’t your average coffee shop. They take pride in being coffee snobs who take extreme measures to make […]

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Newsletter #1029: The “More than Just a Restaurant” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Restaurants have a lot of the same stuff you might have, like a strategic location, operating expenses, inventory, and busy and […]

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Newsletter #1028: The “Lessons from Employers” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Like marketers, employers have to get creative to stand out from the competition, offer something worth talking about, and share the […]

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Newsletter #1027: The “Lessons from Empty Buildings” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Every town has empty or abandoned buildings. Most of the time, they’re symbols of something that didn’t work — that a […]

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