Thursday, October 8, 2009

Awesome Marketing

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I was reading this article about a great idea to use a simple switch in restaurant washrooms so customers can notify the manager if the washroom needs cleaning. I then noticed a brilliant marketing idea in the comments section from Ryan Johnson of Eichenlaub landscaping.

As a Landscape Contractor in Pittsburgh, PA we do most of our work in well to affluent city neighborhoods. We do all we can to minimize disturbance to neighbors but we sometimes can not avoid, parking in front of neighboring homes, making noise, creating dust, etc. In a recent campaign we send cards to neighbors saying basically “we are working next door, our goal is to minimize the amount of disturbance to you and the environment. If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at…..
This gives neighbors the opportunity to complain to us before bad mouthing our company to others. Also, we get a fair amount of new work from this, they appreciate the fact that we care enough about neighbors to send this card, and we must really care about our customers. Customers also appreciate the heads up to neighbors.

That's brilliant! I'm thinking through if we could do something similar. We won't do exactly this, but something we could do is notify neighbours of people we send shoes to:

Hi. We just wanted to let you know that there's probably going to be a bit of noise on your street over the coming weeks. One of your neighbours has designed a pair of stunning handmade shoes which we've just delivered to them. You're likely to hear shouts of 'those shoes are stunning' and 'oh my god, where did you get those shoes?' We apologise in advance for any inconvenience. Our goal is to minimse the impact on you of our shoes, so if this is a serious issue for you please contact me on 1800-xxx-xxx and we'll contact our customer and ask that they only wear the shoes outside at certain times of the day.
Perhaps rather than physical neighbours we could do a version for people to pass on to their Facebook friends.


Update: As per the discussion in the comments - our example note is half done in jest, we think doing it like that would be too spammy, but I love what Eichenlaub did and it would be fun to do a tongue in cheek version.


  1. Probably stating the obvious, but add to/replace the phone number with the web address. If I got something like that in the mail I'd think it was gimmicky, but amusing enough that I probably would check out the website out of curiosity, but there is zero chance I would phone a number where I would expect to be sales pitched.

  2. I really like the idea. The copy needs a little bit of work. But the major hurdle would be privacy issues. It hits on the same issues facebook faced when they published purchases made by friends in your network as part of their social ads.

    Maybe you could still run with this general tone/idea but allow your customers to execute it themselves through a 'Send to a friend' style arrangement.

  3. Yuck! I feel that marketing strategy speaks to the exact opposite of the Eichenlaub example. You're piggybacking on an effort to be responsible neighbors with a disingenuous 'commercial' to keep up with the Jones'. Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I tend to be conservative w.r.t. marketing strategies (I still, naively, think the best product wins _most_ of the time), but this wouldn't be worth the risk - in my opinion - even if half the recipients find it cute.

    I'm not the target demographic, and maybe I'm just in a bad mood? :), but I see this postcard and I draw a mental strikeout through your logo.

  4. I'm so glad you said that Cameron. These are my thoughts exactly. Before Michael posted this, we discussed it. Michael's proposal at the end of the post is mainly tongue-in-cheek, for exactly the reasons you pointed out.

    It's spammy, not targeted, and would be annoying to receive.

    The initial example of cards to neighbors works so well because it is has the opposite impact because of the context of being able to visually see the work being conducted, and perhaps actually being inconvenienced as a result.

    The question is, it is possible to apply this thinking to our business? I can't see a fit yet, but worth thinking about!

  5. Side note, Michael had originally had put ;) at the end of the post. I hate winky faces at the end of posts, so I suggested he remove it. I remember/see now why he put it there - to convey that he wasn't 100% serious! Sorry Fox for suggesting you remove that. Maybe put it back? ;) <-- ironic winky face.

  6. Great thoughts everyone, thanks.

    As you've all touched on it would be too spammy/gimmicky to do something exactly as described in the post, and Cameron, I totally agree that the way Eichenlaub have done it is helpful and useful as opposed to our spammy suggestion. As Mike mentions we discussed that prior to posting but I didn't make those thoughts clear in the actual post. I've added an update at the end to hopefully clarify things.

    I think a tongue in cheek version of what Eichnelaub did, if it was genuinely entertaining, could be fun to do. As Andy suggests my copy needs a lot of work before it would hit that point, and there might be a less spammy/opt in way to distribute the message.

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  8. Totally - and I probably came across stronger than I meant to. I definitely see the attraction to a tongue-in-cheek version of the "helpful notice", I just know I'd be turned off seeing it, which I figured might be valuable feedback.

    To make up for my harshness, I'll describe the first commercial I want to produce for sop. And FWIW I wish Nike had a stronger campaign for "id", because those ads would be really fun to parody. I see an olympic track setting, 100 yard dash event up next. Camera facing runners before race, zoomed all the way in on left-most runner, slowly panning right across as each sprinter gets set in his blocks. Announcer says "this, folks, is the final heat. each runner today is wearing custom-made shoes for today's event" Jamaican runner has yellow/green/black track shoes. Nigerian runner has green/white spikes. Canadian runner has on Red/White nikes. Camera keeps panning... music stops, gun about to blow. Last runner is a woman in a business suit (or mknapp) with custom Aussie colored pumps. Hear announcer say "huh?" under his breath. Gun sounds. Runners go. Woman starts sashaying down the track. Power walking the fuck out of those shoes. She's not _trying_ to be sexy, but she is. Runners slow to watch her walk. Crowd erupts as she crosses the finish line.

    Not sure what the announcer says:
    1) Stop wearing other people's shoes. Build your own at (or whatever it is now)
    2) Custom footwear for the real races in life. Build your own at
    3) Let your creativity run wild. Build your very own shoes at

    or ALTERNATIVELY, you could pay usain bolt $2m to run 100m in heels. Both commercials I'd enjoy watching.

  9. Also, its cute that you guys copy edit each others posts. :)

  10. Eichenlaub example is great. Its in context with what they do. Agree with the comments above re spammy.

    but i like the idea of keeping up with the Joneses. If you could target it right - e.g. addressing it to the female neighbours next door, rather than a general direct mail, could work. e.g. Dear Mrs X, your neighbour Miss Y .....

  11. Instead of copying the Jones, maybe there is someway of developing this to make them an aspirational product and therefore a sense of exlusivity? Nothing made the first version of GMAIL better than the fact that you couldn't just sign up for had to be INVITED! How rude, but extremely successful. Loyalty and having customers as advocates speaks far higher of your brand and the associated status for me, than a mail drop.

    Still, if I was starting a gardening business, then I would definitely do that!

    It's like those male man bags that are made from recycled car tyres.

  12. Ooops, I've just had another thought.

    Is there no way (that is a backwards way of saying there MUST be a way) of combining your excellent marketing skills, the massive network you have available between you and muster up some kind of "mates rates" or opening offer, to get some rungs on the ladder.

    Back yourselves and back your product by putting out to those nearest and dearest. If I got a snazzy mail from you suggesting that I was in someway special to you, and if I shared said e-mail with my friends, they would get the shoes for $200 instead (assuming they kept them and didn't need resizing etc), then I would presonally hunt through my contacts for people who'd be impressed by me sending them that...obviously you want to avoid spam, but if you start with close friends and limit the offer, it could really start the ball rolling. That way your next campaign is effortless, as its all word of mouth from there on in...

    So back your product, and give your mates and incentive (WIIFM) to help you...

  13. I like that idea, Dom, about enlisting the help of friends. Kind of like how bonobos did/does it.

  14. Hi guys, thanks again for your comments.

    Cameron - LOVE the idea for that video, that's awesome! We've got some friends who are good at making skit videos so we'll have a chat to them. Haha, we don't always review each others posts prior to publishing but given the potential (and realised!) controversy of this one I wanted to run it by Mike.

    InspiredWorlds - I like that take on the idea. Still potentially spammy as the neighbours haven't opted in, and the designer of the shoes would need to give their permission for us to use their name, but there might be something non-spammy we can do along those lines. Thinking cap is on.

    Dom - A discount for friends is a brilliant idea! So brilliant that we just acted on it. The following email went out to the 194 subscribers to our email list. We'll also be passing it on to our friends. Thanks Dom!


    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It is with great pleasure that we present to you Shoes of Prey.

    After an exciting 9 months of planning and building, is now live. You can now start designing and ordering your very own custom made women's shoes!

    To thank you for joining out mailing list and your support we'd like to offer you a $50 credit towards your first pair of shoes. To take advantage of this:
    1. Visit our account signup page.
    2. Enter your details to create an account.
    3. Email us at by 16 October 2009 to let us know the email address you used on the account and we'll add the $50 credit to your account.

    Your shoe loving friends are also welcome to this offer and you can forward this email to them.

    Thanks again and we hope you enjoy Shoes of Prey.

    Jodie, Mike and Michael


    Anyone reading this deep into our comments deserves a credit too, so if you're reading this, feel free to take us up on the offer! :)

  15. Hyperlinks in comments don't work. Account signup page =