Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pen Swap

A Closer Look
The next time you’re out to eat at a restaurant and you pay with a credit card, take a look at the pen that you’re using to sign the receipt. Chances are that the pen does not have the restaurant’s logo on it. It’s probably emblazoned with the logo of a local business.

And if you’re interested in the business that the pen is promoting, I think you should keep it. Just be sure to leave a replacement.

Take a Pen, Leave a Pen

I love the idea of a “pen swap.” Get some pens with your company’s logo on them and carry them around with you. Take a pen when its logo is something interesting to you or someone you know and leave one of your own in its place.

This isn’t stealing. The person who left the pen would want you to have it if you’re interested in what its advertising. And likewise, you’d want someone to take your pen if he/she is interested in your business.

What to Put on Your Pen

To create the perfect pen for distribution, you need to include three things on the pen:
  1. Your company’s name. If it’s legible, you can put your logo on the pen in order to this. But if the logo is too small to read, you just need your company’s name.

  2. Your company’s website address. This is how customers will find out more about your company. You could include a phone number too, but your web address is an absolute requirement.

  3. A brief description of what your company does. Notice the key word here is brief. “Pet grooming” is plenty long. So is “fine, imported cigars.” If your company is so well known by people that a description isn’t needed on the pen, then feel free to leave it off.
Add This to Your To-Do List
Make some pens and start swapping! Give some of them to your co-workers and your friends and let the fun begin.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Balance Sees Pink

Good Idea
Back in March, I proposed the idea that shoe maker Christian Louboutin should create a limited edition pink-soled shoe (instead of his traditional red-soled shoes) to raise money for cancer research. (Read my original idea.) Unfortunately, representatives from Christian Louboutin said that they weren’t interested in my idea. (Read their response.)

Fast-Forward Four Months
For a limited time during the month of July, shoe maker New Balance has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to produce a pink running shoe to help raise money for breast cancer awareness. The shoes commemorate the 20 years that Komen has partnered with New Balance to fight breast cancer.

For 20 days in July, New Balance will sell 20 pairs of personalized pink shoes for $149.99 per pair. A personal message can be embroidered onto the tongue of the shoe. New Balance has set up a special website in which you may purchase the limited edition shoes:

A non-customized version of the shoe is also available for $139.99. New Balance will donate 15% of the proceeds from the sale of the shoes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with a guaranteed donation of at least $500,000 and a maximum donation of $1,000,000.

Thank You, New Balance
I think this is a great partnership and a great way to raise money for a worthy cause. I commend New Balance and Susan G. Komen for the Cure for forming such a great partnership. Congratulations, New Balance and Komen. Great idea!

Add This to Your To-Do List

The partnership between New Balance and Komen is a win-win situation. Komen raises money for breast cancer research and gains awareness for its cause because its supporters will be wearing their support for the foundation on their feet. New Balance earns money selling shoes and scores major publicity by supporting such a great cause.

What partnerships can your organization form that will create similar win-win situations? Maybe the local ice cream store should support a t-ball team with uniforms. Perhaps the nearby florist should donate its extra inventory to grieving families visiting cemeteries. Think of some creative partnerships that your business can form – you’ll support a great cause and earn good will for your brand.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Thanks to Arezoo Miot for the tip.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Starbucks Learns from KFC’s Mistakes

I Scream for Ice Cream
To launch its new line of coffee-flavored ice cream, Starbucks is running a promotion through July 19th in which Facebook users can give a free pint of ice cream to one of their friends. At the top of every hour, Starbucks will give out 800 coupons for free ice cream via a Facebook application at Facebook users cannot print a free ice cream coupon for themselves – they must send it to a friend.

Since the free ice cream coupons are gone within seconds after the start of each hour, Starbucks offers a coupon for $1.00 off of a pint of their new ice cream to people who do not grab a free pint for their friends. This way, nobody is left out of the promotion.

Learning From KFC’s Mistakes

Starbucks made three notable improvements to the Kentucky Grilled Chicken debacle two months ago:
  1. Never underestimate the power of free food. The KGC promotion prompted millions of people to print off coupons for a free meal. Starbucks is limiting the number of free pints of ice cream to 280,000 (800 every hour for 14 days). Still a ton of free ice cream, but not so many free pints that they go broke.

  2. Encourage sharing. The key to Starbuck’s promotion is that it allows you to hook your friends up with free ice cream. That’s fun and worth talking about. You’re not serving yourself – you’re serving others.

  3. Stay away from Oprah if you're not ready for her power. The free KGC giveaway was announced on Oprah’s show and that made the promotion more popular than KFC executives would have ever imagined. Starbucks is staying away from Oprah and promoting its free ice cream giveaway online. Oprah can catapult a brand to new heights (like she did for the Kindle), but she can also cause a brand to crash and burn when brand executives underestimate her power.
Suggestion for Improvement
Starbucks has done a lot of things right with this promotion: They’ve encouraged people to share free ice cream with their friends, they’ve limited the number of free pints, and they’ve included a coupon for folks who don’t get the freebies.

The point of this promotion is to share free ice cream with your friends and to get people talking about the new Starbucks ice cream. Instead of giving a $1.00 off coupon to people who don’t snag a free pint, Starbucks should have made the coupon a buy-one-get-one-free coupon so that people can buy a pint for themselves and share one with their friend. That would take the idea of hooking up your friends with free ice cream beyond the 800 lucky Facebook users every hour and extended the promotion to millions more.

Add This to Your To-Do List

The Starbucks promotion teaches us to learn from past mistakes – whether they’re our own mistakes or others’. Marketing is a delicate balance between experimenting with new ideas and turning to methods that have proven to be successful in the past. When a marketing idea doesn’t produce the results that you expected, that idea isn’t necessarily a bad one. Maybe the execution was just handled poorly. Don’t get rid of the idea completely when all you may need to do is tweak the execution of the idea a bit next time.

There’s never a lack of ideas.