Monthly Archives: December 2014

Clap For Christmas

At a loss to know what to buy for that friend who has everything? Well how about a nice venereal disease? Not the real thing of course, but a giant sized soft toy representation. I’m indebted to one of my mentoring programme students who sent me details of these cuddly diseases. For £8.99, you have the choice of Chlamydia, Crabs, Herpes, Syphilis or The Clap.

At first glance this seems in poor taste, and I’m sure you wouldn’t buy one for your maiden aunt. But if you were a teenager looking for an amusing cheap gift for a friend with a sense of humour, I can see you buying one of these.

From the companies perspective this is the sort of product which will generate its own publicity. People who hear about it will share through social media – some because they think it funny and others because they think it disgusting. But the end result in either case is the same – lots of exposure and zero cost.

If you have the ‘stomach’ for it, it’s worth giving some thought to creating products and services which will generate a bit of controversy. Our most controversial book sold over 250,000 copies, and much of it was down to the fuss it created.

So whose feathers will you ruffle?

The Vasectomy For Auction

I just read about a children’s playcentre which garnered a boat load of free publicity by auctioning off a vasectomy as a fundraising exercise. The irony is obvious ( vasectomies have to be counter productive to a business that relies on children for its profits) and that’s what generated the free publicity.

Surely this is an idea that a lot of businesses could copy, although obviously it will resonate more with some than others. Is there some counter intuitive product or service you could offer to your customers as an auction item or competition prize that would create a flood of free publicity?

Something to think about perhaps.

The Commuting Butchers

If you ever find yourself bemoaning the fact that you can’t find the expertise or help locally consider the case of the Icelandic meat trade.

So desperate are they for skilled staff that every September Icelandic meat processors pay the flights and accommodation of 12 butchers to make the 13,850 mile trip from rural New Zealand to a remote corner of Iceland so that they can cover for the peak lamb processing season.

Looking at it from the other side of the coin, if you ever find yourself complaining that there’s ‘no work’, consider the lengths to which these New Zealanders are going, so they can continue to put food on the table in a slack period for their trade at home.

It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and inspiring to see both employer and employed going the extra mile (well over 13,000 of them!) to keep the wheels turning.

Have you even gone a fraction of this effort to give or find work? I know I haven’t.

Goldfish Tea Bags

Sometimes a product becomes so commonplace in its generic form that we stop thinking about it at all, and the humble tea bag falls into that category. In recent years, tea companies have really gone out on a limb (well not really!) by creating round, triangular and pyramid shaped bags, but now a Taiwan company really has done something different.

Charm Villa has created tea bags designed to look like a goldfish. When placed in hot water, the colours of the leaves in the tea bag show through and resemble the patterns of goldfish scales. It’s a novelty of course, but it does serve to differentiate the companies tea bags from everything else on the market.

If you’re in a market where nobody really thinks about the physical characteristics of the product, you could gain a big competitive advantage by creating something which is cosmetically fresh while serving essentially the same function.

Table Scalping

There are always some restaurants where it’s difficult to get a table, and if a trend that’s growing in the United States takes hold here, it’s going to get even harder. Reservations are becoming a saleable commodity with a number of companies offering tables for sale in exchange for a fee.

Some of these companies are working in partnership with restaurants, but others are working independently, booking tables at top restaurants in fictitious names months in advance, and then selling the booking on for a profit. The morality of the practice has been called into question, but there’s no doubt there’s a demand. Going the ‘independent route’ anyone with the necessary ‘brass neck’ could do this and make money from home.

I don’t really like this practice personally, where it’s done without restaurant involvement, but I’m not here to judge. Here are a couple of the more reputable players in the market:

Something to bring to the UK?