Find a Need and Fill It

I enjoyed reading about the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show, and not just a because of my interest in retro technology. Logo for PinBallBulbs, offering light bulbs for pinball machines at http://www.pinballbulbs.com/I was particularly intrigued by a company listed in the Show Sponsors section. When I saw the logo for PinballBulbs, the lightbulb above my own head lit-up. I was reminded of the rallying cry for sales and marketing people to Find a need and fill it.

Seriously? A company that exists to sell lightbulbs for pinball machines? A bit of investigation confirmed that they specialize in lights and lighting upgrades for pinball machines!

Sharing What You Know

Light bulbs for pinball machines? That’s an awfully narrow niche, but apparently there’s a need for them. I suspect the proprietors didn’t start with a brainstorming session and end up with an inspiration to sell a very specific product into a very specialized market. They were probably already involved with pinball machines and saw the need to replace or upgrade the many light bulbs they contain.

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How Technology Changed our Perception of Security

It used to be that if you needed a security system at home or at the office, you’d call an alarm company. Keypad of a locked Android smart phone

They would provide the full package:

  • Provide and install a security system, complete with a console and sensors and the wires that connected everything
  • Monitor the system from their office, and notify the police or fire department if something bad happened
  • You would enable and disable the system using a key or keypad on the console, but the alarm company took care of the rest

That model served a lot of people for several decades, and there is no shortage of companies offering that kind of service today. (In some markets, you’ll encounter ads for security systems several times daily on radio, TV, and other media.)

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When Marketing Doesn’t Feel Like Advertising

When is the last time you watched a TV commercial more than once. On purpose.

321,837 YouTube ViewsWhile I was skipping past commercials during a program I’d recorded, one ad caught my eye. I actually skipped back to watch this “Holiday Surprise” commercial from Kohl’s. I was touched, and checked-out the #ShowKindness hashtag shown at the end of the video.

It hit a chord with me and I checked if the video was on YouTube. Clearly it resonated with many other people, since it had been watched hundreds of thousands of times. After watching it a couple more times, I shared it across several social media sites, like this post on Twitter:

Why Such a Big Impact?

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The Myth of the Forever Stamp

Most people appreciated when the United States Postal Service started marketing the “pricelessForever Stamp in 1997. Rosa Parks "forever" stamp; image published by United States Postal Service at https://www.usps.com/stamp-collecting/assets/images/470404-01-main-695x900.jpgThis was a great “do the right thing” moment, tacitly acknowledging that if you don’t use a stamp for a year or five, the Postal Service has still had the use of your money for that time and shouldn’t charge you extra to use it. It seems only fair that a First Class stamp should always cover the postage for a First Class letter.

The compromise was that the Forever stamp was usually pretty generic, such as the flag stamp. If you wanted a commemorative stamp (such as a Christmas stamp, or one that featured someone important to American culture, such as Rosa Parks), it was going to depreciate like any other stamp.

When is a Forever Stamp not a Forever Stamp?

Poinsettia "forever" stamp from https://www.usps.com/stamp-collecting/assets/images/688604-01-main-695x900.jpgWhat Is A Forever Stamp?” states that “some first-class stamps now have the word Forever written on them and then crossed out. These are regular stamps, not forever stamps. They have the year they were released printed on them and when postage rates increase, you will have to refer back to the postage rate for that year, calculate the difference yourself, and start licking those one cent stamps.”

These new slash-Forever stamps sounded like a step backward in that the face value isn’t even on the face (the front of the stamp). Arguably these would be a new type of online postage because you need to go online just to figure out what they’re worth!

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Can Your Company Improve Its Marketing By Giving It Away?

This is a guest post by Mack Collier, author of Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans

Rock Star MarketingLet’s consider the marketing for two products you have bought. The first is your latest car. How did that automaker market to you? You probably saw TV commercials, newspaper ads, maybe online ads as well. In other words, likely a very ‘traditional’ marketing model was used by this automaker to connect with you and get your attention.

Now recall the marketing that was used to promote the latest CD or song you bought on iTunes. How did that artist promote themselves to you? Did they use commercials? Probably not. Newspaper ads? Nope. Direct mail? Be serious.

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