Steal This #8 – Outside the Box Thinking

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Welcome to the latest edition of my new weekly blog series, Steal This. Each week I’ll highlight a marketing activity that a company is using and suggest ways that you can model it and make it work for you. Last week’s topic was – Movie Trailers.

Today’s topic is: Outside the Box Thinking

An interesting story surfaced last week about a Japanese advertising agency that found a new place to sell ads: women’s thighs.

The agency will pay women to wear an ad on their thigh, provided they are over 18, they meet the minimum number of friends on social media sites, they wear skirts and high socks, and they take a photo of the ad and post it online from two different geographical locations.

Regardless of what you think about this idea, you have to see the innovative thinking behind it.

So how can you steal it?

Granted, this one is a bit more vague than earlier posts in this series, but the point is that you need to find things that no one else is doing. Where can you advertise that no one else is advertising? How can you find people that no one else is finding? What can you offer that no one else is offering?

This may sound stupid, but it’s this type of innovative thinking that has created every new industry in our history. What seems crazy today might be main stream in a matter of years. So how can you beat your competitors to it?

As always, tell me what you think of this week’s idea and suggest other marketing programs to “Steal” in the comments below.

 

Sponsor a Classroom: DonorsChoose.org

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My friends at DonorsChoose.org have a great program set up if you’re interested in donating money directly to teachers and students who don’t have the funding for special projects.

The easy to navigate website features projects posted by teachers. The projects are easily sortable by location, project type, subject, age group, and a number of other convenient factors. The project description includes a goal funding amount, similar to a Kickstarter. And donors can contribute directly to any project, funding all or part of the goal amount.

Here’s the best part, you can send a message directly to the students and classrooms that will benefit. You can let them know why you chose to donate to their project and wish them luck. And after they complete the project, you’ll get handwritten thank you notes from the students. It’s a great way to improve the lives of these students directly.

I am both a donor and volunteer for DonorsChoose.org. And if you’re looking for a non-profit in the education space to support, I highly recommend checking them out!

 

Get WiSE About Personal Finance

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Today I wanted to put the spotlight on a local organization that is working to push the issue of personal finance education in our schools, an issue I care strongly about. The organization is Working in Support of Education (WiSE).

WiSE has two arms. One is a national financial literacy program that trains and provides support for teachers across the country who teach personal finance in the classroom. The second works to push policy changes in an effort to spread financial literacy through schools and other vehicles.

WiSE is the New York affiliate of Jumpstart, a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of pre-kindergarten through college-age youth by providing advocacy, research, standards and educational resources.

As a part of their financial literacy certification program, they have a blog meant for teachers who are members of the program. The blog, at www.wiseideasfortheclassroom.com, offers teachers a collection of topics and trends in the personal finance space that they can use to teach kids in their classes. And as of this month, I will be writing for them.

Check out WiSE, read the blog, and donate today!

Making Customers Remember You

What are advertisers looking for?

It’s a question with many answers. But one answer that resonates with companies the world over is “uncluttered, unfiltered media that gets attention and produces results”. And that’s the idea behind an up and coming advertising company I recently got to understand a whole lot better.

Star Toilet Paper was started by two brothers, Jordan and Bryan Silverman, with a simple and unique concept. Supply free environmentally-friendly toilet papers to venues. And in turn, sell ads on the toilet paper.

Advertising is about getting your product or service noticed, and we do that perfectly.” Bryan is confident the company has found the right offering and can become a much larger marketing tool for companies all over the country. Starting small, with local venues and retailers, they’ve been able to find success. And they’re hoping to recreate that success on a much larger stage. Venues like hotels, malls, and stadiums are in the sights of this young company.

The brothers, one still in college and the other a 2012 graduate, are two of three full-time employees at Star Toilet Paper right now. But along with their plans to expand the business, are plans to expand the team. Job creation and opportunity creation are the name of the game, and with advertisers such as Ben & Jerry's, Smoothie King, and Pita Pit, its clear the market for toilet paper ads is a real one.

“Marketing is all about getting your product noticed and making consumers remember who you are,” is how Bryan puts it, and who isn’t going to remember your company if they see it on their toilet paper.

The “provide for free and sell the space” model has worked in the past. It’s worked with fortune cookies, with cigarettes disposals, with delivery bags, and it’s now working with toilet paper.

For more info, check out www.startoiletpaper.com.

The Future of Education

Prediction, there will be a well-respected, free online university supported by advertising and partnerships that will drastically change the way we think about higher education in the next 5 years.

Does that sound ridiculous to you? Have you heard of Coursera, or any number of online education startups that are taking the tech world by storm?

It’s true, it takes a lot more than money and online buzz to make a dent in the education world. Technology news is often fickle and doesn’t always translate to real world success or failure. But as a country we’ve finally come to the very true conclusion that education is in dire need of a fix. Higher ed is too expensive, and too slow to change. The best systems are underfunded, and the entire system is underappreciated by our politicians.

Combine all of that with the investment dollars that are flying around the education startup sector in 2012, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for something big to happen. Startups are working with respected universities to try to change the way we learn from the inside. Others are trying to change education from the outside.

In an age when online degrees are gaining validity and respect from both educators and employers, it’s only a matter of time before someone starts offering advertising supported degrees, or company-sponsored degrees to people all over the world. And all it takes is time to establish credibility of such a system before it starts becoming a very realistic substitute to a traditional 4 year college.

So 5 years might be too soon. But if it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to happen now. We’re standing at a crossroads, and the tech world is holding almost all of the solutions available.