Working with the marketing departments for the third largest lighting manufacturer in the world and the leader in medical supplies has exposed me to some of the most creative minds in the industry. On any given day, there would be a flurry of activity or an impromptu brain-storming session to come up with the latest and greatest product campaigns.
There remains one marketing project that has left a lasting impression upon my life. I hold it up as the all-time greatest, attention-getting, unique and most innovative marketing of a product/service that I have ever encountered. Sadly, it wasn’t our marketing initiative and it came to me from an unlikely source.
As the lead supervisor in the marketing department, one of my responsibilities was to order the coffee for the break room. Vendors and salesmen would show up during the course of the day unexpectedly and try to vie for a few moments of my precious time to show off the latest and greatest in coffee offerings. I had little time or patience for their antics, and yet, they returned day after day, week after week much to my dismay.
Relentless pursuit and memorability
A good marketer will be a relentless marketer but also one who offers a product or service in a way that has never been presented before. This is referred to as the “hook” and I remember once that my manager told me, “Sometimes it is not the most innovative product that enjoys the greatest success. It is the product or service that is presented in such a way that the audience will be hooked.”
It was a typically hectic week near the end of the month when everyone was scrambling to make their budget numbers. I remember getting the call that there was a salesman from the coffee company who had showed up without appointment. I asked my secretary to shoo him away and she replied, “He brought you something.” I sighed and told her to let him in.
Within seconds, he opened my door and sat a mug of coffee in front of me with several packets of sugar and a few little containers of flavored creams. “Here is my card. I know you’re busy at the moment, but enjoy this coffee and call me later when you have a chance. I’m only right down the road and can come back at a better time. Have a good morning and enjoy your coffee to the last drop.”
Know when to leave
He exited before I had a chance to say a word and I quickly resumed the crunching of numbers and fended off the numerous phone interruptions and visitors throughout the morning. It was several hours before I returned to the cup of coffee still sitting on my desk and I welcomed a sip even though the warmth had left the cup. It actually was very tasty and I gulped down some more. It would be noon before I finished the entire liquid and when I did, I was shocked to see what was staring at me from inside the bottom of the mug.
Different and daring
The white lettering printed on the inside of the empty mug stood out in stark contrast to the dark green-colored ceramic cup. The letters spelled out a simple but profound marketing message, “You know you enjoyed this – call me, Albert. XXX-XXXX”
Give them something to talk about
I couldn’t wait to share the empty mug with my secretary who immediately took off down the hall to show the others. Soon, folks were congregating outside of my office and saying things like, “Wow, what a marketing plan,” and “Maybe we should start giving stuff away!” You can only imagine how that empty mug began to get our creative juices flowing.
The coffee call
In the end, we switched vendors and began purchasing coffee from Albert. The product was good – certainly not the best – but every single time I poured coffee into my mug, I thought of our first encounter. When I finished my coffee and stared at the writing in the bottom of my favorite mug, I was encouraged to create the best marketing campaign of the century. Sadly, I never did.