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Newsletter #1043: The “(Not Really) NSFW” 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.]

Readers have told me before that they’d love to share my posts and newsletters if the word “damn” wasn’t in my blog’s name. But, anyone who’s spent any time with me knows that’s one of the more tame terms in my vocabulary. And like Gary Vaynerchuk, I’ve decided to put myself out there, take those losses, and stay true to my voice — occasional cursing and all.

Here are some other companies that have taken a stand, stood out, or just made people laugh by being (a little) NSFW:

1. Ello and freedom of speech
2. Playboy and safe-for-work content
3. Groupon and Banana Bunkers
4. Check it out: Logo makeovers

1. Ello and freedom of speech

When Google made the unpopular decision to ban adult content from Blogger and then reversed the decision, Ello took the opportunity to share their take. They claim that because Ello is ad-free, they won’t let advertisers control their “haven for free speech.” But they didn’t just write a press release or an email. Ello named March “NSFW Month” and asked users to help them celebrate by discussing ideas of freedom of speech, censorship, and an open Internet.

The lesson: By getting their users to participate in the discussion, Ello didn’t just take a stance, they started a widespread conversation. When you have an opportunity to make your voice heard, remember that your customers can help you make it that much louder.

Learn more: Observer

2. Playboy and safe-for-work content

Flowchart: Should you catcall her?,” “10 video game characters who are basically Clint Eastwood,” and “A Style Guide to a Men’s Custom Suits” — all pieces from Playboy, believe it or not. Their Senior VP of Digital Content, Cory Jones, says that with a broader range of safe-for-work stuff and some feminist-leaning content, their new strategy is not only trying to reach more people, but also to keep up with the times. Since the rebranding, Playboy.com has grown from 5.5 million unique visitors to 21.5 milion. They’ve also become one of the top 15 U.S. brands in social media.

The lesson: The pivot in their branding shows that Playboy is willing to adapt and create content to fit what they know people share and care about.

Learn more: Adweek

3. Groupon and Banana Bunkers

When Groupon posted a deal for the Banana Bunker on Facebook, it brought out everyone’s inner comedian with comments on what it looks like or could be used for. But the most remarkable part of the whole thing was Groupon’s response. Instead of taking it down, the brand’s social media manager responded to every single comment on the promotion making their own tongue-in-cheek jokes along the way. Their quick responses were witty, personalized, and earned them a bunch of press.

The lesson: By choosing to show their personality instead of sterile PR responses, Groupon made their promotion much more fun and interesting — and of course, sold out of Banana Bunkers.

Learn more: Forbes

4. Check it out: Logo makeovers

For $25, these designers will turn a company’s logo into a custom logo with a penis.

Check it out: Penised.com

Newsletter #1042: The “Brilliant Customer Service” 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.]

For as many customer service stories there are out there to make us cringe, there are just as many that make us say, “that’s brilliant!”

These three companies have come up with remarkable ways to make service better for their customers as well as their employees:

1. Freeze a lost credit card
2. Check an app’s bug status
3. Get rid of waiting rooms
4. Check it out: Ancient customer service complaint

1. Freeze a lost credit card

Most of the time, misplacing your credit card is a big deal. To keep it out of the wrong hands, you have to call your bank, deactivate it, and get a new one sent to you in something like 5-10 business days. And it only adds insult to injury when you find that the original credit card wasn’t even lost after all. So Discover created a “Freeze It” feature. That way, you can use your phone to freeze your card immediately and temporarily until you find it and reactivate it yourself. It’s so simple, but it takes a lot of anxiety out of a common problem.

The lesson: Removing annoying obstacles is not just better for your customers, it also frees up your employees to handle more pressing customer issues instead.

Learn more: Chicago Tribune

2. Check an app’s bug status

Simple, a banking service, has a web page that lays out a history of all of their mistakes. Their Status page shares real-time information on bugs within their platforms and issues with certain features. It also lists a history of each issue and update, including how long it took to fix it and how long they’ve gone without a problem. That way, when you think something’s wrong with your phone app, instead of calling Simple’s customer service, you can check the status page to see if there’s a bug they’re working on.

The lesson: Being that open and honest about your mistakes might seem daunting, but for Simple, transparency actually makes them look good. Think of all of the calls, emails, and angry tweets Simple is avoiding by being completely upfront about what’s working and what’s being fixed in real-time.

Learn more: Simple

3. Get rid of waiting rooms

No one likes waiting in a doctor’s waiting room. So some clinics, like CareNow in Texas, have implemented web check-in. Patients can register and check in online from home for their appointment. Then, the clinic will call them to come into the clinic once the doctor is ready to see them. Their insurance payments are already verified, their medical chart’s ready, and their room is prepped. No hanging around in the waiting room just to wait longer in the exam room.

The lesson: Patients have a better experience, and CareNow has an easier time coordinating their appointments and paperwork. It’s a mutual benefit that makes a big difference.

Learn more: CareNow

4. Check it out: Ancient customer service complaint

Poor customer service has been around for a long, long time. Just check out this 3,765-year-old tablet with a customer service complaint written to a Babylonian merchant for his poor quality copper and bad attitude.

Check it out: Geekologie

Newsletter #1041: The “Old Stuff, New Tricks” 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.]

The companies that continue to earn new fans and make headlines don’t just stop once they’re no longer new and shiny. They keep up the excitement by sprinkling in something unexpected and fun.

Here are three ways to re-energize word of mouth:

1. Partner with someone unexpected
2. Put it in unexpected packaging
3. Offer an unexpected service
4. Check it out: Customize your own font

1. Partner with someone unexpected

Target has done a lot of collaborations with luxury brands and designers to make fresh lines of more affordable stuff. They’ve brought in big names like Lilly Pulitzer, Missoni, and Joseph Altuzarra — and it often produces a frenzy, sells out, and makes headlines. But it’s not just Target fans talking about Target or the designer’s fans talking about the designer. It’s the partnership that makes the promotion remarkable. Each brand is reaching a different audience and causing a stir because they’re working together to make something new.

The lesson: A lot of people love Target — so after a while, the conversations about it can get stale. But Target’s able to keep the buzz going with collaborations that interest new and different audiences.

Learn more: MPR News

2. Put it in unexpected packaging

Airline Transavia France created an unusual line of snacks that double as low-cost plane tickets. A ticket to Lisbon is in the form of a bag of gummy bears ($45), a granola bar will get you to Dublin ($45), and a bag of potato chips serves as ticket to Barcelona ($40). You can buy the snack tickets at the grocery store or a vending machine, scan the QR code, and register your flight online. It’s weird, but it hits on an unusual problem for airlines: visibility.

The lesson: Actual, physical plane tickets might as well be invisible to an airline’s potential customers. Usually you have to go online, call someone, or go to the airport to buy a ticket. These snacks make a visual, physical reminder and word of mouth carrier that makes airline travel seem much more spontaneous and fun.

Learn more: PSFK

3. Offer an unexpected service

Amazon recently rolled out a new program called Home Services. You can get help with odd jobs like assembling a grill, installing a car stereo, gutter cleaning, and other random work around your house. But the one that has everyone talking is their goat rentals. You can pay for someone to bring a goat out to your property, let them graze on your land, and then send them back.

The lesson: Everyone already knows what Amazon does and who they are. But they do a great job of keeping their brand on everyone’s minds by doing fresh and interesting stuff like this.

Learn more: Marketplace

4. Check it out: Customize your own font

Metaflop is a modulator that lets you manipulate a metafont to create your own font and download it. Change stuff like the cap height, aperture, unit width, and more.

Check it out: Metaflop

Newsletter #1040: The “Lessons from Animal Shelters” 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.]

Animal shelters have a lot of the same problems as most companies when it comes to marketing: small budgets, limited resources, and higher-end competitors. So they have to get creative to get people in the door and adopting animals.

Here are three lessons to learn from their strategies:

1. Don’t do what everyone else is doing
2. Put your message in an unexpected place
3. Ask for help telling your story
4. Check it out: Pointer Pointer

1. Don’t do what everyone else is doing

You’ve seen the stereotypical tear-jerker commercials for abandoned puppies and kitties before. It makes you sad, it makes you want to save all of the animals, but it’s not something you want to share with a friend. North Carolina’s Wake County SPCA did something different. They made a lip-syncing music video to ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” with the entire shelter staff and tons of adoptable animals. And it’s been watched on YouTube over 3.4 million times.

The lesson: Just because sappy videos are the norm in animal adoption doesn’t mean people like them. With a light-hearted, positive video like this, the Wake County SPCA made their adoption center and staff seem fun and approachable, not sad and heartbreaking.

Learn more: YouTube

2. Put your message in an unexpected place

In Brazil, Priceless Pets works with pet shop owners to swap their usual pure-bred animals on display with abandoned dogs and cats from shelters for one day. And when the customers tried to buy the dog or cat, the pet shop surprised them by letting them take their pet home for nothing. The idea is to prove that a pet doesn’t have to be an expensive purebreed for people to fall in love with it, and that maybe it’s better to adopt than to buy. By putting the shelter animals in an unexpected context, they make their cause more visible to the exact audience they’re trying to reach.

The lesson: Where are your potential customers going instead of coming to you? How can you surprise them by showing up there?

Learn more: PSFK

3. Ask for help telling your story

Pictures, videos, and bios on their site help Austin Pets Alive! get people interested in the animals they have up for adoption. And since it takes a lot of manpower to create all of that content, they ask volunteers to do it. According to their fundraiser executive, Adrienne Longenecker, the visuals don’t have to be high-quality, and the bios don’t have to be perfect — people are just excited to know more about the animals. (In fact, that kind of content earns their site about 2,600 visitors a day.)

The lesson: What’s holding you back from sharing more content? Chances are, someone out there is willing to help you make it. All you have to do is ask.

Learn more: Contently

4. Check it out: Pointer Pointer

Position your mouse pointer on the screen and hold still. Then, wait for a surprise.

Check it out: Pointer Pointer

Newsletter #1039: The “New Spin on Old Advertising” 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.]

While traditional advertising can be easy to ignore, every once in a while, marketers get it right and get our attention. But it’s not always because they spend more money, buy more ads, or build bigger campaigns.

Here are three old-school advertising platforms made more remarkable:

1. Bus stop ads that help out
2. Commercials that surprise and delight
3. Stickers that create photo ops
4. Check it out: The Pretentious-O-Meter

1. Bus stop ads that help out

You know that great feeling when something you need shows up right when you need it? For example, let’s say you’re waiting for the bus, and you realize your phone battery is about to die. Wouldn’t it make your day if there was a charging station sitting right next to you? That’s why VitaminWater installed USB ports inside their bus shelter billboards, so people can plug in their phones while they wait.

The lesson: Providing value to your audience is one of the best things you can do to make them happy. VitaminWater transformed a medium that usually says, “Look at me!” into something that says, “Here, let me help.”

Learn more: Adweek

2. Commercials that surprise and delight

When a group of guys had to give up the 1957 Land Rover they bought together in college, they were heartbroken. So when Land Rover saw the ad for their vintage Series 1 online, they bought it and restored it — complete with its original stickers. But before they surprised the guys with the keys, Land Rover put together a video with the restored SUV and turned it into a commercial. Each location in the commercial was a recreation of adventures the guys had taken in it before so that by the end, they were in on the surprise: Land Rover was giving them back their restored Series 1.

The lesson: Your customers have better stories about your brand than any marketing team can come up with on their own. Are you looking for ways to become a part of these stories?

Learn more: Brains on Fire

3. Stickers that create photo ops

You know the obvious mistakes you see out there in the world like a bike lane arrow headed straight into a curb, a sign for the “7st floor,” and stair railings that’ve been installed backwards? Snickers placed posters next to these blunders that say, “You make mistakes when you’re hungry.” It’s an inexpensive, guerilla-style extension of their major marketing campaign that you’d expect to see from a clever graffiti artist instead of a huge corporation.

The lesson: They didn’t have to install any new infrastructure or pay for ad space. They just took what was out in the world and added some of their humor (and marketing) to it.

Learn more: Ads of the World

4. Check it out: The Pretentious-O-Meter

Film critics and the average movie-goer don’t always agree on what makes a movie “good.” So the Pretentious-O-Meter calculates ratings from both sides to let you know where a movie sits on a spectrum of quality and mass-market likeability. For example, while films like Sideways get a 100% Pretentious rating, Beverly Hills Chihuahua gets 74% on the Mass Market side.

Check it out: The Pretentious-O-Meter

Newsletter #1038: The “Make Someone Smile” 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.] Don’t get too caught up in complicated marketing. You don’t always need a coupon or a call to action. Sometimes the […]

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Newsletter #1037: The “Making Ideas Your Own” 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.] We’re all about trying new things and getting outside of your comfort zone to see what works for you. But you […]

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Newsletter #1036: The “Throwback” 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.] Everyone loves some good ol’ nostalgia. Just think of all the BuzzFeed articles about the 90s, Throwback Thursdays, and Timehops. All […]

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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 […]

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