I enjoyed reading about the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show, and not just a because of my interest in retro technology. 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.
It used to be that if you needed a security system at home or at the office, you’d call an alarm company.
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.)
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
Let’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.
I’ve referred to gift shops as places that sell things you wouldn’t buy for yourself. Recently I had to clean out a house that included gifts like these that had become a burden. In fact, an entire cabinet was filled with candles received as gifts.
As I was filling (and hauling) boxes, I was not thinking nice things about the nice people in the nice gift shops selling those nice gifts. Quite the contrary, I thought about the people who wanted to do something nice by giving a friend or loved-one something they’d enjoy looking at, not realizing the recipient would eventually need to do something with it. It was also a wake-up call to me that I want to deal with my own clutter now rather than subjecting someone else to it later. Not only does it take up space, but clutter is unhealthy.
I knew I might be in trouble when I clicked on a Google search result and the page that opened was crawling with ads. Then the page clicked-over to a different site on its own: To an article in Vogue I believe. The article itself didn’t look especially threatening, but that’s not a site I visit – and most importantly, I hadn’t done anything to be taken there.
Everything seemed fine after that, but later I clicked the icon to open Microsoft Word and received a UAC (User Account Control) warning from Windows indicating that a program it didn’t trust was trying to start. Any time a Microsoft application isn’t recognized by a Microsoft operating system, something is clearly amiss. I’ve used Word zillions of times with no issue like this, which reinforced that something was wrong, so I didn’t allow it to start. The same thing happened later when I started Outlook, and then Java, underscoring that I had a serious problem.
Sometimes Low-Tech Marketing is Very Effective
This morning I was driving along, minding my own business, when I encountered a dozen or more enthusiastic young people waving home-made signs for their car wash. My car was due for a wash, and I do like to support folks who are willing to get out there and work for a cause, so they had my attention.
Then I spotted the sign: The one that said Make Mom Happy and Wash the Car
That was completely unfair – but effective. :-) In fact, far more effective than a hand-scrawled sign has any right to be. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ve passed hand-written signs guaranteeing to refinance your home, offering a lucrative work-from-home job, or perhaps something else that might sound a little too good to be true. I don’t pay them any attention; do you? Their rough nature doesn’t instill confidence that the people who created the signs are really in the business of high finance or sophisticated marketing.