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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:

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

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  1. Ron Yates April 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Great info Andy. Thanks finding these treasures to share with us!

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