A few years ago, I met a guy named Andy Sernovitz in New York at an Internet-era networking event.
We chatted, I was impressed, and I put him on my "business contacts" list. This means that I send him (and the others) a brief (business-focused) update on what I'm doing, trying to keep the lines of communication open.
He recently responded to one of my notes, asking for my mailing address and saying he wanted to send me a copy of his new book.
Yesterday, I received notice from the Microsoft mail room that I had a package. On the outside of the cardboard box was an advertisement for a popcorn company. When I opened the box, there was, indeed, popcorn inside of it. Then, a brochure for the company. Then, a press release for Andy's new book. Finally, the book.
"Wow," I thought..."this is sure one way to get my attention." His new book is on the power of Word of Mouth Marketing. In fact, he's started an association to help companies understand how to leverage Word of Mouth in an honest, genuine way.
I went to my colleague's office. "Look at this..." and I told her the story.
Then, I presented to a group of 20 Microsoft partners who had just spent the morning at a "telephone blitz" trying to get customers to pay attention to them. I told them the story. "What's your popcorn?" I challenged them.
I stepped back...look what Andy's done...in 25 minutes. I've told the story through Word of Mouth to 22 people already and all it cost him was a bag of popcorn. (In my defense, I knew I was being manipulated, but I didn't care, because I loved how what he did actually reinforced what he was articulating.)
Of course, I started the book last night (reviews to come shortly).
Grabbing attention is critical in this attention-deficit disorder era.
I just started watching Lost In Translation with Bill Murray. The very first scene (and I mean first, with the movie title) is of a woman, lying in bed, with her derriere pointed towards the camera wearing a regular pair of underwear...just thin enough to reveal the lines.
"I have no idea why this is important," I thought, "but you've got my attention now."
We all know that sex sells (and as the movie progressed I think I could see the connection-but that may have been an effort to justify my primal reaction to the first visual...in reality, they could have started with many other pictures), but the point is...what are you going to do to get the attention in a non-offensive, non-shocking (the movie opener was soft, not subtle) but different way, so that you can begin the conversation you want?
Andy Sernovitz has done it. Lost in Translation has done it. Countless others haven't.