Marketing So Good Your Customers Would Pay For It

23 Sep 2016
Alan Martin

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Let me ask you a quick question! Do you think that your customers would actually PAY to get your marketing materials?

I know this sounds like a crazy question but it happened to me about 3 weeks ago. Let me give you the back-story to this, then I’ll explain how this relates to your marketing.

Useful Marketing

In June of this year Chat Marketing sponsored The Content Marketing Academy conference in Edinburgh. As part of our sponsorship package we were allowed to put something in the delegate bags, that everyone received on the first day of the event. I didn’t want to put in a promotional leaflet or a pen, because in my opinion these things can be a waste of money.

Fine if you are a large organisation and have a bit of spare budget that you need to write off against tax, but that’s not me. I don’t know about you but I need my marketing budget to work hard for me, rather than simply being a ‘nice to have’ item. I think people throw leaflets in the bin, often without even a glance at what’s on them. Pens are a bit better; at least they are usually kept and used beyond the life of the event, but I don’t think people pay a whole lot of attention to the branding on their pens or visit the website if there’s a URL on it. I could be wrong though, so feel free to let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Racking my brains about what I could put in the bags, I came up with the idea of a wire-bound ‘To-Do List’ book. I remembered a few years ago speaking at an event, where the organiser gave out ‘To-Do’ list books to all those in attendance. I used my book all the time and even once it was finished, I kept it for future reference because I liked the idea so much, that I wanted to keep it handy in case I ever decided to produce something similar.

I decided that’s what I’d do. So I created the ‘To Do’ list book along similar lines. I didn’t want it to just be an advert for Chat Marketing, so I was careful that any marketing messages were minimal and instead focused on making it a practical resource for people. The front cover was ninja themed, with a smallish Chat Marketing logo and a three word description of what we do ‘social media solutions’ at the bottom right of the page. The only other marketing messages was a strip of social media icons along the bottom of each page, indicating what networks we could help people with, along with the three word description, an email address and our website URL. That was it!

ninja-notebook1   ninja-notebook2   ninja-notebook3

The conference was a huge success for everyone who attended and I think even Chris Marr (Chris is the organiser of TCMA) was surprised by the amazing feedback following the event. Anyway, I had several people come up to me over the two days of the conference to say what a good idea the book was. Then about 3 weeks ago I had the following message on Facebook from one of the delegates.

“I have to ask if you have any of those brilliant To Do list books left that you shared at the conference. I love them, use it every day but I have zero space left!!! Can I buy some from you?”

At the time of ordering the books from the printer, I ordered more than I needed for the conference in case there was a last-minute rush on tickets and we would risk being left short. So I had a few left at the end of the event and was able to hand in a couple of books, much to the delight of the delegate. Apparently her colleagues have already been eying these jealously.

The Business Lesson

I have to admit, I did think about charging for these books when I got this message (they weren’t cheap), but only for a minute or two. Then I remembered something Jay Baer wrote about in his excellent book ‘YouTility’ (affiliate link), where he explained that in this day and age of information overload, where we are all exposed to way too many marketing messages to even register most of them, creating useful marketing helps your brand stand out.

I started to picture my ‘To-Do’ books appearing at meetings and being commented on, and that sealed it for me. If I had the books available, why would I not give them away to someone who was sure to be showing them off to others?

I am quite convinced that if I had gone down the traditional route of pens or flyers or something similar, there would have been crickets after the event. Although the situation that I’ve described above did not lead to new business, social media is about building awareness, trust and relationships with your community over the long term, which I believe I achieved with this give-away, and who knows what opportunities may arise in the future from others who either attended the conference or have seen the books.

One thing is for certain: without the ‘To Do List’ books people would not likely have been talking about my marketing or holding onto it for so long, far less asking if they could buy some of it from me.


If you want your marketing to stand out and be noticed, it is worth trying to figure out how you can make it ‘useful’ rather than interrupting people when they are trying to do something else. Simply trying to stand out by ‘shouting louder’ than your competitors, is not sustainable in the long term.

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