Giving Up The Ghost
One of the strategies Tucker laid out for the movie campaign was to take all the money you’d normally spend on billboards and TV commercials and spend it on blogs or private websites. It’s brilliant really. Umair just wrote a paper on it – he’s giving the money to the people who create context.
Before that happens, I’m using the same concept for a different company. As I was dictating an order to the product placement guy, I was stressing to him how important it was that he send it out exactly as I’d specified – just what the person ordered. The sizes. Arrival date.
Then it hit me, that’s really fucking boring. So I scratched it. I said get most of the order right and have fun with the rest. He’s sending people stuff they couldn’t possibly wear or books they’ll never read. Total freedom to do whatever he wanted. Maybe though, if it goes like I plan, they’ll give the extra to somebody else or tell their friends about it. At least now its something interesting.
Doing the same with advertising. My first instinct was to use the ads that perform best. If you’re going to be buying advertising, you’d use the ones that convert right? But I was thinking about the wrong customer. So we’re using the controversial stuff. The ones that make an impression on the people we’re trying to impress. Everybody else is irrelevant. Ads ones that will get angry emails or double takes or laughs. I’m linking some to Wikipedia pages. Some to negative articles. Things that they don’t even sell any more. I was thinking about buying a bunch of inventory and filling it with white space.
Sometimes I don’t get things Tucker says. Occasionally, it actively impedes what he’s working to accomplish. But I’m starting to understand that hey, maybe that’s why people can’t stop talking about him. That’s what I was trying to say about emails. Don’t bother people with your Furthermores and Sincerelys and At Your Earliest Conveniences. It’s not real. It doesn’t mean anything. Who.cares.
The advertising campaign is working. I built a Rolodex from nothing inside of a month. Other sites are starting to write about the ads they’ve noticed on their competitors. People are coming back to me asking for leaks or more stuff. I’m not joking, it was ‘account error’ cheap and only just starting to build on itself.
Whatever though, right? It’s a tactic that will eventually see diminishing returns. That’s not the point. I think it’s really easy, especially with the perception that school and business writers give, to think in these nice but boring boxes. It’s why eccentric people confound the establishment. Their flaws were supposed to keep them from succeeding. No – that’s why they’re interesting.
You can give up the ghost of perfection, of creating a plan that works for everybody and then following it exactly. You can. (I’m trying.) Think about your heart rate increasing but everything slowing down. What kind of freedom would that give you? Might be more fun too.
Ryan: Every so often I think I can start to keep up with your method of thinking, and then you throw a post like this that makes me start all over again.
It’s awesome, thanks man.
I echo Ilan’s sentiments. Great post, dude. It really reinforces why your blog is the first I check for new updates in my reader.
It’s dangerous trying to keep up with guys like Ryan because they’re in the business of Thinking Different. Maybe by looking at what Ryan’s trying to get to in the end, we might just catch up sometime.
But hey, what do I know? I’ve still got the ghost.
I think this ties in great with your previous post about creating and owning your own ideas.
Creativity is not just doing something different, it’s about seeing things in new ways.
Awesome post dude.
It seems like this might be a hard thing to get right, though. After all, there are a lot of eccentric people out there who are not successful.
Rather than completely abandon the established system, wouldn’t it be better to transcend it? The tactics of the old regime are entrenched for a reason, they work. Why not use them without letting yourself be constrained by them? Guerrilla advertising is great for building hype cheaply, but if I had the budget, I would still want to supplement it with more traditional ads.