Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


January 2008
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Archive for January 28th, 2008


Ever been tempted to try a gimmick or a giveaway (I call them ‘geehaws.’) as part of your marketing efforts? It’s a way of standing out in a crowd but it has risks as well. A good marketing campaign can employ ‘clever’ but must always remain in the ‘believable’ range. If it gets attention but doesn’t deliver a message then it’s probably not worth the money. Super Bowl commercials are a classic example. We might remember the commercial, but do we remember the product?

Sometimes gimmicks try too hard to be funny. It’s a bit like the ‘joke’ too many speakers feel compelled to use to start after-dinner speeches. If it’s not delivered well, or some of the audience doesn’t get it and most importantly, if it doesn’t relate to the main topic then the results are usually negative. The speaker would have been better off just plowing into the topic.

That said, I do believe that gimmicks can be used to make a marketing campaign more effective if we follow a few guidelines.

1.) The gimmick should enhance an existing message.
2.) It must not be offensive…..and this means knowing your audience. Sending singing Christmas cards to your contact in Israel might not cut it. Duh!
3.) It should have a high ‘show’ factor. Will the recipient be likely to pass the message or gimmick on to others. (Hey, look at this!)
4.) The message must be obvious and not dependant on outside information. (If the gimmick is separated from the accompanying letter will both the letter and the gimmick still make sense if they are viewed separately?)

I worked for a rural medical center and I always tried to find giveaways and gimmicks that were ‘health’ related. I know for a fact that I didn’t always succeed and it was usually because I forgot this basic concept:

It’s only a good gimmick if it enhances your existing message as perceived by the recipient.