Monday, June 2, 2008

Buzzmarketing: The Art of Out-Thinking

If you are interested in learning some new ways to think differently, especially in the the marketing realm, then I highly recommend Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes. It is full of creative ideas and real-life examples that capture what Hughes and others have done to stir the public's imagination--and generate business for clients--without spending a ton of money.

To paraphrase a principle that Hughes hammers home repeatedly: Are you in a position to out-spend your competition, or to out-think them? (To check out his website, go to

The easy, seemingly safe thing to do is to buy a bunch of TV time, or radio spots, or a series of newspaper ads. And into the 1980s, those were your major options. But times, you may have noticed, have changed drastically.

When someone approaches me to discuss placing an ad in a newspaper, for example, I check my calendar to make sure it reads 2008, not 1978. Does this mean all TV, radio and print ads are fruitless? By no means---I'm just leery of viewing them as the first line of promotional thinking, particularly when working with companies or organizations that have modest budgets.

Here's one of my favorite anecdotes from Buzzmarketing:

Hughes was VP of marketing at and grew "attached" to a company sticker someone had slapped over the men's urinal. Though the sticker was removed, Hughes was left with an indelible impression---here was the inspiration for a more concerted marketing effort involving urinal screens, those rubberized pieces that prevent gum and other debris from clogging the drain.

The company printed this on $1.34 urinal screens: "Don't piss away half your money, head to"

The bathroom humor was a tad crude and, as expected, drew some criticism. But far more importantly, it represented clutter-free media (nobody else was competing with the audience's attention at the time!) and sparked media coverage from the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Fortune magazine and 60 Minutes.

So, men, next time you head to a public restroom, you may just get a close-up look at Inside Edge's foray into potty-mouthed marketing. Here are a smattering that have, um, flowed from a 15-minute brainstorming session:
Pissing away your publicity dollars?
Aim for

Feeling aimless when you gotta go PR?
Aim for

PR efforts going down the drain?
Take aim at

Got any PR leaks? Aim for the Inside Edge.

You take time to P. Now just add an R.
Aim for

I know what you must be thinking. "You're in over your head, Matt." (And, no, that wasn't a typo on "you're in." I do have a line I won't cross.)

Well, maybe so. Perhaps I do need some PR help. Got any suggestions? Pass 'em along and I may just include them in an upcoming blog post--or even a urinal screen that awaits your undivided attention.

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