Putting Words, Images and Ideas to Work
I’ve always loved impressionist art – Monet and Manet are some of my favorites. What I like best about these paintings is the somewhat out-of-focus imagery that keeps me from tiring of looking at them. I can see what I want to see, and there’s always some new detail to spy. Odd, how impressionist art is worth millions, but out-of-focus photos are not…
However, on a recent trip to Hamburg Germany, I stopped in at an art museum, and believe it or not, they had an entire exhibit on out-of-focus imagery. I mean rooms and hallways full of the stuff. There was an entire display just on out-of-focus wedding photos! I’m not quite sure if they were taken that way on purpose, or assembled after the fact. But, if you can get customers to actually pay to see this, well, it gives me a whole new appreciation for perspective. Figuratively and literally.
For years, I threw away virtually all my out-of-focus shots. There were a few I kept, simply because I kind of liked the somewhat abstract art appeal…but who knew that, one day, out-of-focus photography would become elevated to museum status?
How’s This Relate to Business Marketing?
Makes you wonder if it’s not just artwork and photos that need to be looked at from a new vantage point. How does this relate to business, you might ask? Well, one man’s garbage is another man’s gold. Products or ideas that at first flopped can be reinvented, presented to a new audience, or in some other way be marketed differently, to have value. Sort of like the story of how a chef at world-famous Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans once turned mushy old bananas into Bananas Foster.
One example of this concept is a website, started by a former vendor, and now friend of mine. It’s called “MyCarSucks.Com.” When he first told me about it, honestly, I thought he was more than a little bit nuts. I mean, come on, who’s seriously going to look for, or find, a site like that? Or, so I thought. But turns out, it’s quite a nifty little idea. People who hate their cars just love to tell other people their story. (My husband included.) And, with over 300,000 visitors a year, Matt has turned this little website into a money-generating business…attracting paid ads from…wait for it…lemon-law lawyers! All because people like to complain.
Or, here’s yet another example that I recently heard about in our Rutgers Center for Management Development Digital Marketing class. Our professor, Mark Schaefer, presented the case history of Expert Laser Services, a company that sold computer printers, cartridges and supplies. As the story goes, the newly hired Marketing Manager was assigned the task of growing the business. The catch was, there was no budget. As in none. So, he had the brilliant idea that many people hate their printer…and so he put together a web-based social media program asking people to submit videos showing how they’d destroy their printer. Contestants came up with all kinds of creative ideas…running them over, blowing them up…but the point is, the campaign cost nothing. It created a ton of buzz. Print cartridge sales and company goodwill rose exponentially. And all because customers were unhappy with their printers, and someone had the good sense to turn that idea on its head and make it a marketing advantage. (It’s become so popular, the contest is now in its fourth year. You can watch their humorous video announcement here. Unfortunately, official entry period ended July 31 – but no doubt, their winning entries will be available soon.)
So…the message is, it’s all a matter of how you look at something. Whether it’s your out-of-work status that you turn into a golden opportunity to meet interesting new friends and find a dream job that hopefully pays even better than before, or whether you just dust off your old out-of-focus pictures, blow some up (as in “enlarge”…not dynamiting them), and put them on your wall as art. It’s all just a matter of perspective.
Incidentally, I receive no compensation, paid or otherwise, from any of the companies or organizations mentioned in this article. And just for fun, I thought I’d share just a few of my out-of-focus images, above. Feel free to repost. High-res versions of these out of focus photos are available for purchase, if you’re as crazy as I am and see the beauty in their flaws.