What is marketing anyway? Are you ready for the Miriam Webster definition? Here goes: “The process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service” Wow. That makes me want to jump out of my seat and go brand something! If I had known I was in for this much excitement as a marketing specialist I would have stayed in school as an IT major and searched out that parse error I never did find. Thanks for the effort Miriam Webster, but when you say it like that I'm not buying. And, if your marketing plan sounds anything like that definition I can guess that your potential customers probably aren't either. How about I give you the Green Banana definition of marketing? If you want to be successful, marketing your business means creating an irresistible brand around a product or service you are passionate about. It means capturing your audience's attention just long enough for them to fall just as in love with it as you are and then sending them on their way so ridiculously excited about it that they can't keep their mouth shut. In the process of simply existing after having met you they'll now tell everyone they know that they need what you've got.
Simple right? Yes actually...it is!
In order for it to be simple, however, there are a few things I mentioned that are absolutely key. Notice the sentence that says 'creating an irresistible brand around a product or service you are passionate about'. Creating the brand is secondary. Passion for your product is huge. If you aren't head over heels for what you are offering, don't expect anyone else to be. A poppin' logo, clever catch phrase, and all the right self-promo in the world can only take you so far. People can see right through fake enthusiasm.
Next up, come to the realization that you are your brand. Anyone can walk into a room at a networking event wearing a suit and tie. If that represents who you are and what you do, then by all means rock what you've got. However, suit and tie or plain old polo, you'll be just another face in the crowd until you find some way to set yourself apart. As promotional products professionals we're in the business of helping our clients stand out. If we aren't successful in marketing our own brand, how will we help our clients market theirs with measurable returns? Be the one that lights up the room.
To start, be 'tastefully outrageous' – In my city I'm know as the girl with the flying monkeys. While at The Expo I came across one of our suppliers was flinging a super hero caped, sling-shot monkey 50 feet in the air and when he caught it, it screamed. At $5.00 a piece it's not the most inexpensive self-promo out there, but this item really did something for the kid in me. I ordered on the spot. As soon as my order arrived “Super Maxx” came with me to his first networking event. I only brought 2 of them. One went in as a door prize. When I stood up and gave my introduction I finished by saying “We're Green Banana Promos and we don't monkey around!” as I shot the remaining monkey across the room to an unsuspecting colleague. The room erupted in laughter.
This was just about a year ago. Today Super Maxx, a.k.a #FlingMonkey, has his own Twitter hashtag, Facebook page, and travels around the country getting his picture taken as he goes. It's kind of like some glorified Flat Stanley project. He has been in radio interviews and commercials. Last week I showed up to a mixer here in town without #FlingMonkey and was given flack until I walked back out to the car to get him. This week someone took a video with him on the South Lawn at the White House, and next month rumor has it he's taking surfing lessons in Hawaii. #FlingMonkey is all the rage.
In addition to my business, one of my clients has also adopted #FlingMonkey. We printed a QR code on his 'blue cape' which, when scanned, takes people to a secret page on their company's website. Once a week, on #FlingMonkey Monday, people can scan the code to receive special discounts and freebies from his store. We've built an entire community based off of a promotional product. Now someone has ordered #FlingCows.... All of our #FlingMonkey friends think its moo-valous!
I say this not to brag, but to show you that promotional products really are powerful. Or at least they can be. They can also be a pitiful waste of time and money. In order to make a big splash we have to know how to use the products and imprint areas effectively and teach our clients to do the same. Not everyone can throw monkeys at people and get away with it. When thinking self-promo get products that engage the five-senses: Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, and Sound. In addition, recognize the innate desire people have to play. Things that catch attention break through the tedium and monotony of the daily grind and create an emotional response. That's a good, no...GREAT, thing when done correctly!
If you only have the budget for a pen, spend the extra and get the second color imprint to boost appeal. If you can spend a little more think longevity. What would you keep around and use daily? Or, is there something fun that people will keep around for novelty.
When you figure out what makes the people around you tick, they'll start talking you'll have a self promotion AND a brand that is truly unforgettable. Get out there and make 'em go bananas!
Written by Charity Gibson.
Image credit: pykmi