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Newsletter #1005: The “Make the Best of It” 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.]

Forget lemonade — turn your lemons into wow-worthy marketing. Here’s how some companies converted unfortunate situations and underdog stories into big word of mouth opportunities:

1. When the earth swallows up priceless cars
2. When you can’t sell your stained couch
3. When everyone thinks you sell photocopiers
4. Check it out: Origins of Common UI Symbols

1. When the earth swallows up priceless cars

You probably heard about the sinkhole in Bowling Green, Kentucky that opened up underneath the National Corvette Museum and devoured eight vintage cars. It was a freak tragedy for the museum, but also a big opportunity for word of mouth. Instead of restoring the museum to its original condition, they decided to make a portion of the hole an exhibit itself. The result? Attendance is up 59 percent.

The lesson: Losing priceless cars to a natural catastrophe is rough. But by embracing it as a part of their history, the National Corvette Museum attracted a new audience of people to come and learn something about their cars.

Learn more: The New York Times

2. When you can’t sell your stained couch

Craigslist is not known for glamorous ads and slick marketing. In fact, plenty of postings have gone viral because they’re the opposite of those things. But for some ad students and interns, that’s what their agency, Classify, thrives on. They take a failing Craigslist post and revamp it with flashy images and marketing copy, pro bono, to help people sell their stuff.

The lesson: Everyone loves an ironic Craigslist ad. Classify uses the undesirableness of each post to their advantage to not only help someone sell an ugly couch, but to also draw attention to their marketing talents.

Learn more: PSFK

3. When everyone thinks you sell photocopiers

It can be hard out there for BtoBs to earn word of mouth — especially if most people are confused about what they do. For example, did you know Xerox (yes, that Xerox) provides business services for the government, higher education, healthcare, and other industries? To capitalize on their vast customer base of business leaders, they highlighted “Chief Optimists” with content on GetOptimistic.com featuring stories from their customers on how optimism fuels success. And according to MarketingProfs, it helped Xerox generate over $1 billion in revenue.

The lesson: No matter how boring your product is, your customers are still interesting — especially if you’re a BtoB. Put the spotlight on them and you’ll not only earn more attention from potential customers, but also forge closer relationships with your current ones.

Learn more: MarketingProfs

4. Check it out: Origins of Common UI Symbols

Ever wonder where the Bluetooth symbol came from or why the USB port symbol looks like a weird trident? Learn the history behind the icons we use every day.

Learn more: Origins of Common UI Symbols

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