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Newsletter #756: The “Create Content, Not Ads” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email 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.]

Nobody is passing along your generic advertisement. But what people will share is great content (even when it’s technically an ad). Three ways to make it happen:

1> Anything fun and goofy
2> A great story
3> An amazing demonstration
4> Check it out: Prius floralscapes

1> Anything fun and goofy

If you make something fun or weird (or both), there’s a great chance people will pass it on. Trader Joe’s puts out a newsletter called The Fearless Flyer — and it’s completely bizarre. Described as a mix between Mad Magazine and Consumer Reports, it’s a mix of catalog and comic. And it’s just the sort of ad that doesn’t feel like an ad. It’s fun to read, informative, and is free of cliche copy.

The Lesson: If your advertising isn’t making them smile and there’s nothing strange about it, why would anyone show it to a friend?

Learn More: Trader Joe’s

2> A great story

An inspiring cause or issue will blow away a tacky slogan any day. When you purchase a pair of shoes from TOMS, they give one to a child in need. People love being a part of a bigger story — a story that spreads in all the YouTube videos of TOMS making shoe drops in poor countries all over the world. Lots of companies do some fantastic philanthropy work on smaller scales in their communities, but too often the story of it is buried in an annual report or some forgotten page on their website. If you’re doing your part to help the world, show everyone with lots of photos, videos, and opportunities for your fans to join in.

The Lesson: Ads don’t drive people to recruit their friends, but opportunities to help the communities they care about will spread.

Learn More: TOMS Shoes

3> An amazing demonstration

How fantastic is your product? Try blowing everyone’s mind with an amazing demonstration. When Blendtec shows off the power of their blenders, they don’t buy newspaper ads showing freshly chopped veggies. They blend garden rakes, baseballs, and golf clubs — and share all the demonstrations as short YouTube clips. It’s become one of the most popular online video series of all time — all on a budget of around $50. If you’re looking for a fresh source of content to share, try taking a stroll through the R&D department.

The Lesson: If you can visually prove how fantastic your stuff is, what could an ad possibly say better than a live demo?

Learn More: Will It Blend?

4> Check it out: Prius floralscapes

Along Californa freeways, Toyota has begun advertising their eco-friendly Prius with roadside floral arrangements. Using more than 20,000 live flowers, these “floralscapes” feature seasonal varieties grown by local businesses.

Check it out: MediaPost

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  1. Forget Ads: Create Content - November 18, 2009

    […] post originally appeared in Andy Sernovitz’s Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That! email […]

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