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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

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  1. Chioma Anozie June 23, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    Hi Andy,

    These tricks are definitely unexpected (especially Amazon’s rent a goat service). I would never have thought of these. But your message is true: create a new spin and you keep interest kindled. Do routine stuff and you risk boring your customers to the point of migrating to another more exciting business.

    Your article has definitely left me thinking of new ways to create a spark in my newsletter by doing completely unexpected but effective things.

    Enjoyed your article. Look forward to reading more.


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