Marketing the Mundane

by | Apr 2, 2005 | Marketing

There’s no shortage of advice available regarding the best ways to generate buzz for your hot and exciting new product, but what are you supposed to do if your product isn’t really buzzworthy?

Let’s say you’ve made a new line of those plastic clips that you put on a bag of potato chips to keep them from going stale. Your product is basically boring. There are tons of other bag clips out there, and they work perfectly well. People aren’t going to post in discussion boards about how revolutionary your bag clip is. They’re not going to blog about it. They’re not going to tell their friends.

Unless you’re Clip-n-Seal, that is.

Invented by laid-off web developer D. L. Byron, the Clip-n-Seal is a preposterously simple product. It is the perfect example of a generic widget.

Where other bag clip manufacturers have failed to move beyond the “Hey, check out our neat bag clip” school of marketing, however, Clip-n-Seal has very effectively used the internet to create a brand mystique that sets them far apart from the others.

One key to their success is their visual identity. By browsing around their website, you’ll see that they’re not what you’d expect from a bag clip manufacturer. They let go of fear and did something unique, instead of falling back to the safe ground of trying to be a stereotypical bag clip manufacturer (whatever that might look like).

Another key to their success was tribal marketing. On their limited budget, they couldn’t effectively get the message out to the whole world, but they could at least spread the word among Byron’s web design contacts. Before long, Clip-n-Seal became the bag clip of choice among cool web designers, because they were manufactured by “one of us.” The mundane widget became a have-to-have-it lifestyle accessory.

Even after the Clip-n-Seal meme spread to the general public, its identity as the bag clip owned by cool people was retained. People tell their friends not because it works particularly better than any other bag clip, but because they want to help their friends be as in-the-know as they themselves are.

It’s perfectly possible to create buzz about relatively dull products or services by approaching them in a novel way. Be remarkable.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Keep it in the family: Pick a group of people with whom you have something in common, and establish yourself as the preferred provider within that group. If Clip-n-Seal can become “the bag clip preferred by web designers,” there’s no reason you can’t be the landscaping service preferred by Harley owners. Once a tight-knit group embraces your brand, it can eventually spread outside the group while retaining the idea of being “preferred.”

Invest in design: If you’re striving to look as good as your competition, you’ll never beat them. “Good enough” is never good enough. Separate yourself from the pack by investing in a high-quality design that promotes a powerful, fearless brand identity. People’s eyes should widen when they see your website, your business card, or your brochure. They’ll remember you and be much more likely to mention you to others.

Stand out: Don’t let your fear prevent you from standing out. If you’re a lawyer, try using a casual, friendly tone instead of the usual “aggressive trial attorney” routine. If you’re weird enough—relatively speaking—people will be more prone to talk about you.

Share: Talk about your business. Talk about your industry. Passion is infectious, and you can excite your target market by letting them inside your world.

Have fun: People can’t resist fun. Enjoy yourself. Relax. If you’re having a good time, people will be drawn to you.

Above all, remember to be fascinating. If your product or service is boring in itself, then it’s up to you—yes, you personally—to be amazing. Everyone can do it, you just have to be the one who actually follows through with it.

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