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On creativity, sidecar moments and marketing

By February 12, 2009 One Comment

On sidecar moments and marketing

I saw something I’ve never seen before on the way to work yesterday: A thin, jumpsuit-clad man with white hair and beard riding a 70’s-era motorcycle with a sidecar.

Just the sight of him sent my imagination racing: Who was he? How old was he? What did he do? What was he like? Did he build the motorcycle himself?

Maybe he’d traveled the world, built a fortune and was now spending his days creating metal sculptures when he isn’t out riding his motorcycle. Or, maybe he just committed homicide and was making his getaway.

Who knows?

The point is, he was different. He was unique. And he was like no other.

Nobody has fired my imagination like he did in a long time—and I only saw him for five seconds.

I’ve seen tens of thousands of cars and motorcycles over the last several months, but because he was different, I noticed him.

From now on, I’m calling events like this, “sidecar moments.” It’s one of those rare occurences when you see something different enough that you stop, pay attention and take a few minutes to ponder what you are experiencing.

What’s this have to do with marketing?

Though marketing is about differentiation, ironically we often try to emulate other things we’ve seen elsewhere:

  • “I want our ad formatted like the VW “Lemon” ad, only with a picture of our product.”
  • “I’d like sandboxes on the bottom of our website, kind of like on Apple.com.”
  • “Let’s create a brochure kind of like that tech company, except with our colors and a different person on the front.”

We’re all guilty of this, and of course, it’s okay to look at what others are doing for inspiration.

But whatever you do, don’t let someone else’s marketing get in the way of real creativity.

Instead, don’t be afraid to be completely unique. Create a sidecar moment for your prospects and customers. They’ll notice you, and it might even get people talking.

So, how can you make your marketing really stand out?

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