Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Perfect Souvenir for a Harry Potter Fan

My sister and I just visited the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour outside of London and we came back with the greatest souvenir these two Harry Potter fans could ever own: videos of ourselves flying on brooms, just like in the Harry Potter books and movies.


Enjoy the video above. I've shown it to my wife and kids many, many times. It's time you saw it, too.

As a marketer, I love this souvenir because it's something that visitors will take and show to people after their trip. Maybe you didn't even know that Warner Brothers kept two of its Harry Potter studios open after filming ended and that you can now tour them if you can get to Watford, England. But now you do, and that's because I've shared this video with you.

I paid for a copy of this video and now I'm telling all my friends about the studio. Incredible. And this souvenir is so much better than just a t-shirt; it shows my friends exactly what they'll get to do if they visit for themselves. 

As a Harry Potter fan, I love this souvenir because it captured a wonderful experience that I could only have at the studio. Plus, it's fun to show people the video because my acting is clearly worthy of an Academy Award. It's almost like I had been preparing for this day for a long time, just in case the opportunity to ride a broom ever came up, don't you think? 

Perhaps I Inspired This Idea 
Five years ago, after visiting a Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, I wrote that the gift shop should have sold me a moving picture of myself and friends, in costumes, just like the books and movies reference. Maybe — just maybe — that thought inspired the flying broom souvenir experience that now exists in Watford.

Or maybe, not. But it's fun to think about.

Add This To Your To-Do List
How can you send your customers home from your business with something they'll want to show all their friends? Give them an experience worth sharing and then give them an easy way to share about it. Of course, that's a lot easier said than done.

There's Never a Lack of Ideas

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is it Time for RadioShack to Change Its Name?

What's the first thing you think of when you hear "RadioShack?" If you're like me, words like irrelevant and old come to mind.

So is it time for RadioShack to take the nuclear route of changing its name? Well, maybe. Certainly its name is not its only problem. But perhaps consumers just can't get past the outdated name and look any further into what the company is all about. I know I can't. And what was once a thriving business is now struggling to find ways to grow.

One Final Attempt
I admired RadioShack's attempt at making fun of itself in its SuperBowl ad this year. But that single effort isn't enough. It may be time to start from scratch and build a new brand.

Other Examples
If history has taught us anything, RadioShack could take a few different paths:
  • It could change its name and thrive. After its involvement in the Enron scandal in 2001, Arthur Andersen changed its name to Accenture and has done very well. Similarly, in 2003, cigarette maker Philip Morris changed its name to Altria Group and has done well since.  A new name doesn't solve everything, but could it help turn RadioShack around?
  • It could keep its name and thrive. Xerox was traditionally known as the company that made photocopiers, but it has completely changed its brand image over the past years. So has IBM. Could RadioShack do the same?
Up Next
RadioShack isn't the only brand that may need a new name. I think Blackberry is approaching the point of no return, too.  Many people associate the brand name with an outdated phone. While some think highly of the brand as a maker of secure devices, that may not be enough to sustain the company. In the next few years, we should know if the company can turn things around. If not, it may be time for a new name.

Add This To Your To-Do List
Should RadioShack change its name? Should Blackberry? What other companies or products could use a new name to kick-start growth? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

There's Never a Lack of Ideas

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Happy Fifth Birthday to My Blog

Somehow, some way, I've managed to keep this blog going for five years. I've moved twice, changed jobs, completed grad school, published a book, and had two kids during that time. Thank you to all who have supported me, shared my writing, and contributed ideas throughout these years. I couldn't have done this without you.

My Favorite Posts
In an annual tradition, I'd like to highlight my favorite posts from the past year. Check them out:
Add This To Your To-Do List 
Enjoy my favorite posts!

There's Never a Lack of Ideas

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Host a Cell Phone Signal Party

"But will my new cell phone get a good signal in my home?"

That's the first question you should ask when you see those coverage maps from the major wireless providers.  Sure, it's great if your phone works in a ton of places around the US, but what matters most is if it works perfectly in your home. How can you be sure that it will? That's easy: have a "wireless signal party" and test it out.

Invite a bunch of friends over for a party. Have your friends who use Verizon dress in red. AT&T friends dress in blue. T-Mobile friends dress in pink. You get the idea.  Then, have them show you how good their signal is in your house. Make phone calls from their phones to check how good their reception is.

Put Your Money Where Your Coverage Map Is
If wireless companies are so sure that they have the best network, then I think they would be willing to sponsor these types of parties. Imagine if Verizon said:
We're so sure our coverage is the best that we'll give you $50 for snacks at your very own wireless signal party.
So which cell phone company is willing to try it first? Let's see them put their money where their coverage maps are.

There's Never a Lack of Ideas 

Thanks to fellow Googler John Thorton for coming up with this idea and allowing me to blog about it. You rock.

Monday, February 3, 2014

#Super Bowl #Hashtags

By my count, 35 out of 60 Super Bowl XLVIII ads last night had hashtags associated with them. Some, like #Doritos, were product-focused and easy to remember. But many were not so obvious and will probably be forgotten in less than 24 hours. Let's see if you can identify the brand behind each of these 20 hashtags from Super Bowl XLVIII ads last night. Note: You need Flash to view this quiz.

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How did you do? Share your results in the comments or via your favorite social network.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Favorite Marketing Bloggers

I read a lot about marketing. A lot.

Yesterday, one of my favorite marketing authors wrote about my book and I'm so proud that I wanted to share about it. Andy Sernovitz writes a daily blog called Damn I Wish I'd Thought of That. I've been reading it every day for eight years. I've read Andy's book and attended several of his trainings. He's a brilliant marketer who I respect very much. When I sent him a review copy of my book, he graciously offered to read it and help spread the word about it if it was worth sharing.

Yesterday, he made good on that promise. Thanks, Andy. I'm humbled and gracious.

My Favorite Marketing Bloggers
I'm frequently asked who my favorite marketers are. That's a tough question because there are so many. And I regularly discover great new marketers. But, I thought I'd take a stab at answering that question by starting with a list of my favorite marketing bloggers:
  • Rohit Bhargava — Rohit writes the Influential Marketing Blog, in which he provides great insight into current marketing events.
  • Seth Godin — I've read several of his books (my favorites are Permission Marketing and Tribes) and his blog has inspired me daily for years.
  • Bob Hoffman — Bob writes The Ad Contrarian blog, which is perfectly off-color and does a great job exposing the bad side of the advertising industry. If I ever get stuck in an elevator, I hope he's with me because I'd love to chat with him for a while.
  • Bernadette Jiwa — Bernadette is on a mission to tell the world that marketing is all about storytelling, not advertising. Her blog is fantastic and her book is on my long list to read.
  • Beth Kanter — Beth is a great resource for all non-profit marketers and her blog is one of the best in the business for practical tips.
  • Avinash Kaushik — Avinash is the authority on web marketing metrics. His books are staples within university marketing programs and each post on his blog generates incredible discussion. Avinash is a friend of mine and he graciously wrote the foreword to my book.
  • Guy Kawasaki — Guy seems to have his hands on tons of great marketing projects all the time. His blog adapts over time as he focuses on different work. His book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish a Book was instrumental in helping me publish my book.
  • Andy Sernovitz — See above.
Add This To Your To-Do List 
If you're not reading these blogs, you should be; you won't regret it. But whom have I missed? What should I be reading? I'm always on the lookout for great new marketing authors. Please let me know.

There's Never a Lack of Ideas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Best WiFi Network Names

If you try hard enough, you can find something interesting about every type of product and service and turn that something into a great marketing opportunity.

Take routers, for example. They aren’t inherently interesting. But the way people and businesses name their wifi networks sure are.

Have you ever come across a funny wifi network name? I’ll bet you have. Maybe it’s your local restaurant or your neighbor across the hall. Why hasn’t a router manufacturer come out with a Tumblr to collect the funniest wifi network and hotspot names? Here are a few to get started:
  • Scarpino Portkey (that’s mine — a Harry Potter reference, in case you don’t know)
  • Drop It Like It’s Hotspot
  • Hot Or Not Spot
  • Network-ing It
  • HotSpot for Teacher
  • This is not your hotspot
  • Nelly’s Hotspot in Herrrre
I’ve previously written about how coffee filters can be interesting. Now we’re talking about network routers. You can find the fun in anything if you look hard enough.

Add This To Your To-Do List
Have you given up trying to engage customers with your brand because you think your product can't be differentiated from its competitors? If a router company can create a strategic brand advantage through great marketing, so can your brand. Use this post as inspiration to dust off your brand, put it in the hands of a capable marketer, and let its greatness shine. 

There’s Never a Lack of Ideas.