Pissing On a Brand…

Sometimes, knowing when to stop the flow is as important as knowing when to start it.

When do you need to promote your brand, and when do you not?

The attached photo is a urinal freshener that I’ve used several times in the past weeks. At the top, the brand’s URL.

Is this effective at promoting a brand?

My family and I travel full time, spending good stretches in cool places. The purple thing is from a urinal at a campground in Utah that we stayed at for a while. I used this urinal on an almost daily basis.

Not once have I said, “Damn. I like that urinal freshener. I’m going to visit that website and order a case.” No. I peed, I moved on – but after pissing on this thing a hundred times, I finally noticed and it gnawed at me…

At best, it’s effective – but a waste of money for the return. They paid for the die to make the thing. There’s extra plastic involved. If you’re talking about a national urinal cake concern – this is millions of urinal cakes per year. A small material addition impacts the price of the product – and over the span of production, this adds up to a lot more money than most of us proletariat make. And, as we know – urinal cake magnates are notoriously tight-fisted. Someone suggested that they include the URL. Someone approved it. Some people just don’t get it…

As to the real effectiveness, I guarantee that 99.99% of the people who have stood over the Eckosdotcom-branded urinal freshener could tell you the color of the damned thing, let alone the URL attached. And of the .01% of the people who COULD tell you the URL – how many of them are going to wash their hands and run back to their laptop to actually look at the website? With conversion rates what they are – how many will buy? The numbers are insanely low – and it’s all about numbers, right? If they paid $200 across the production, that’s a lot “per click.”

At it’s worst, it’s completely and utterly useless, it’s a waste of money – and it does precisely NOTHING for the brand. So why do it?

This happens all the time. Not just for pee-pee-catchers, but in a variety of other ways:

  • Phone Numbers on Tshirts: I’ve seen a million decent designs totally ruined by someone stuffing a phone number on it. I’ve written down precisely ZERO phone numbers from tshirts.
  • Self-Indulgent Glamor Headshot Cheesy-Ass Photos: Yeah. You look great – amazing what great lighting, a fresh haircut and a borrowed suit can do to clean you up! Now, you’ll NEVER look that good again, but – your professionalism just oozed for the 15 minutes you were taking the photos. Excellent.
  • URLs on EVERYTHING: There’s a coming problem on the Earth. We’re running out of space to store all these branded plastic things. The thrift stores can’t take any more, and we can’t even encourage people to steal them. At some point, we’re going to be awash in a sea of mouse pads and coffee cups with now-defunct websites on them.
  • Social Media Icons: Hey, we’re on Facebook. Let’s put the Facebook icon on there. And every other social media outlet we’re on. Yeah, I know it’s a postcard – but we really want people to know that we have a Facebook icon. WE’RE ON FACEBOOK! (This one REALLY kills me. Why the hell would you put someone else’s logo on YOUR brand? Having them on a website is one thing – but why, oh why, would you put the mother-fudging icon in or on ANYTHING you do? Pete’s sake.)
  • Posting “Death” Memes on Social Media: Who the hell does that? How can that POSSIBLY build a brand?
  • Promoting Without a Plan: This happens AAAAAAAALLLLL the time. Just because you CAN promote your brand somewhere doesn’t mean you should promote your brand everywhere. If nobody’s listening, you’re just pissing resources away. Whether it’s money or time – spreading and growing your brand COSTS. You want a real ROI on that price – and not narrowing your audience down and approaching them in a meaningful, appropriate way is worse
  • Doing the Same Thing as Everyone Else Because Some Marketing Person Told You It Was Effective: “We got a great return for this guy – and we’ll use the exact same template, so you’re guarandamnteed to get great returns, too!” We know how well this works, right? We’re adults (in some measures,) so we all know that there’s not a template for you and for your brand. Just because it worked for that guy doesn’t make it magically fit for you and your audience. You have to stand out from the noise – and the only real way to do that is to do it right. Do it so it fits – do it so it’s yours – or don’t do it at all. Otherwise, you’re just tossing money down the thunder mug…