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Marketing Outrageously

Marketing Outrageously

How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts

Jon Spoelstra

If you're looking for a great marketing book to kick your promotional ideas into high gear, pick up a copy of Marketing Outrageously: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts by sports marketer Jon Spoelstra. (You've got to love a book with a cover picture of a sumo wrestler slam dunking a basketball!)

But isn't doing outrageous things dangerous to your corporate or personal image? Spoelstra argues that conservative marketing is far more dangerous for a small company, because you won't build revenue as quickly. The slow growth and incremental improvements many marketers seek isn't adequate.

Rather, Spoelstra says you must begin asking yourself the question, "What's it going to take?" Think big. Consider your biggest goals. Then, add the goal to the end of the question: "What's it going to take to __________?"

By asking the above question, Spoelstra says you can start to generate ideas and a plan for achieving breakthroughs. Spoelstra asks the reader to write down a question to be asked every day: "What have I done to make money for my company today?" That seems like a good question.

Spoelstra tells many stories from sports marketing. For example, when brought in as a marketing consultant to revive the Sacramento Kings' season ticket renewals, which had fallen through the floor, Spoelstra was advised that, even though he wrote a great renewal letter, it wouldn't be read by the fans, who were now throwing away all correspondence from the team.

Spoelstra guaranteed the letter would be read. The letter was tied to the leg of a three-foot-long rubber chicken wearing a jersey that said, "Don't fowl out!" The rubber chicken was stuffed into a tubular Fed-Ex container and mailed to fans.

As Spoelstra explains, the Fed-Ex box was the headline. The rubber chicken, the subheadline. The only purpose of the headline is to get the prospect to read the subheadline. The purpose of the subheadline was to get the prospect to read the letter. Fans did read the letter attached to the chicken. And, a $12,000 rubber-chicken campaign generated about $2.5 million in extra renewals.

While the above is clever marketing, sometimes 'clever' can border upon unethical or misleading. For example, Spoelstra tells about the marketing of the independent film Blair Witch Project.

To promote the film, Spoelstra tells us that Artisan Entertainment sent about 100 college students to hand out fliers about three 'missing persons,' and the fliers asked people to visit the Blair web site for more information. The web site gave the impression that the three 'missing persons' were real--not that this was all promotion for a film, which is all it was.

Obviously, this marketing worked, because this ultra-low-budget film made for $50,000 went on to gross over $100 million at the box office. And, there have been many, many take-offs on this hide-a-scripted-fictional-film-as-a-true-documentary, even though that's a lie. A film claiming to follow a person on dates, one following a couple of people who start killing people and go on a murder spree, etc., are just a few of the poor follow-up marketing attempts.

And, today, some people still think that the witch thing really happened which is sort of frightening. People tend to be more interested in reality than pure fiction, so we've seen a whole host of TV shows which appeal to this by following real people. I guess it was only a matter of time before some producers would realize that they might as well script the darn thing but claim it's true anyway and get the best of both worlds--better action and the mirage of truth. I don't call that 'outrageous.' I call it something else. Do we really want large companies, and, maybe, even, governments adopting such 'outrageous marketing' methods?

The book also has a good discussion about AOL's marketing of its online service. Spoelstra, like many good marketers, prefers marketing that is measurable. If you don't really know what the results of a campaign are, how do you know if it worked? AOL was using direct mail, and, surprisingly, Spoelstra says that all those billion (or so it seemed) free AOL disks had a very high return, because many people tried the service and stayed with it.

Unlike the competitors who were trying to charge a fee for their software, AOL realized profitability lay in providing the service, not selling the one-time software. So, it gave the connection software away free. That's good marketing--the old get-the-razors-out-there-even-at-a-loss and make up for it with sales of razor blades.

Marketing Outrageously
Marketing Outrageously

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