B2B International
B2B International

March 27, 2009

What do a cassette tape, a boomerang, and a 1980’s electro-pop song have in common?  In Matt Powell’s latest Thursday Night Insight entry this week, he looks at the impact of ‘thinking outside the box’ and standing apart from the competition, and the lasting impression that it can make.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve come into contact with a few advertising campaigns that have, in one way or another, caused me to devote at least some part of my day to thinking about them.  By that, I mean more time than just taking a glance at a glossy piece of direct mail that goes straight into the recycle bin after couple of seconds.  These pieces of marketing have really engaged me – either through getting me to think, causing me a great deal of intrigue, or just appealing to my inner child. 

The first was a cassette tape that arrived in the post in a brown padded envelope, in a Mission Impossible-esque manner.  On the cassette was a label with a personalised web address for me to visit.  I was not the only one of my in the office to receive one of these tapes, so there was some discussion as to what they were for.  A quick visit to the website, showed that it was a campaign from E-Rewards that centred around constant evolution – the cassette tape being one of the evolutionary step in the personal music player.  The campaign certainly stood out from everything else that landed on my desk that day, it created discussion around the office, caused me to visit the website, and now the cassette is adorning my desk-top.  Certainly more interaction and longevity than standard direct mail would have been afforded.

My second encounter with out-of-the ordinary marketing was on a lunch break whilst in the local supermarket/convenience store.  Whilst I was perusing the assortment of soups on offer, I – and my fellow shoppers – were treated to short minute-long blasts of a very familiar 80’s electro pop song.  I first dismissed it as the slipping standards of the store, probably allowing staff to play their own music through the store music system.  Still, the familiar music was annoying me – I couldn’t remember where I knew it from.  After a few more minute-long blasts it dawned on me why the dated music was so familiar – it was the music that backs Dairy Milk’s latest advertising campaign (with the boy and girl and the dancing eyebrows).  Once I realised that, it evoked the amusing images from the TV advert – by coincidence I was stood at the counter waiting to pay – with an assortment of Dairy Milk products on display in front of me.  Very clever.  Plus, I was feeling slightly jubilant that I had remembered where I knew the music from – something that would have irritated me throughout the day if I hadn’t have figured it out.  Again, slightly different approach to getting the message across, but a memorable impact.

The third piece of marketing that I found particularly engaging is in fact B2B’s latest mailer – not that I’m blowing our own trumpet – it could be a mailer from any company and I would still be writing about it.  It is, as the first sentence of this article has probably given away, a boomerang.   The boomerang is a play on the theme of ‘getting a return on your investment’.  The boomerang has instructions of how to use it on its reverse.  This piece of marketing is now sat on my desk awaiting the day when I can finally find somewhere large enough, and unpopulated enough to throw it without posing a threat to the public.  Indeed, over the past week, whenever I have come off the phone, I usually find that the boomerang has moved from my desk into my hand.

Of course, there are many, many more examples that could be added to the three I have outlined above, but the message is the same.  In order to stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression, we need to somehow differentiate our offering.   This applies not just to direct mail and advertising, but to business as well – and is even more important in times such as these.  There is no harm in sitting with the pack – but thinking outside the box or offering something different to the competition, can really make the difference in setting a product or company aside from the rest, and create lasting success.

For more information on how to differentiate your offering, why not cast your eyes over the following white paper: Differentiation: Are Product, Brand and Service Still Enough?