I love Ireland. I mean, we moved here an’ all so you wouldn’t expect me to hate it.
But really, truly, deeply… I love it.
And never more than this morning when I heard the latest from Dublin Zoo.
See, just to set the scene a little, I’ve noticed a few things since I’ve been here, two of which are the marketing is not as bad as most of the places I’ve been, especially in the national press, and there are an awful lot of ginger-haired people about.
Now, I don’t want to be mean… but let’s face it… Gingers get some pretty bad press, don’t they. Save your complaints and insults, please, because I’m not saying anything against them personally (after all, it’s not their fault, is it?), but… well… you know how it is.
So this is why I was tickled pink to hear on the radio this morning Dublin Zoo are offering free admission to ginger haired kids under the age of 16 in honour of Orang-utan Awareness Week.
Not only is this decidedly amusing, especially as I don’t have ginger hair, but it’s a brilliant direct response marketing tactic –and it is direct response marketing because they can measure it so closelyand accurately (and it’s all free, as you’ll see below).
What’s more, there’s a Big Lesson for all of us in there. Several lessons, in fact.
The first is…
Any Old Excuse is a Good Excuse for a Party
Well, you know what I mean.
Most business owners piss and moan when I tell them to write to people more often and put more “out there” because they claim they have nothing to say, other than “please buy from me”, and as we all know, people get well hacked off with that very quickly indeed.
The second is…
Nothing is Sacred
Sure, some people have been saying (albeit while they’re laughing about it), how “insulting” and “offensive” this is (but only to people or parents of kids with ginger hair, and who cares about what they think anyway?), but so what?
The fact is it’s a bit of fun, and for every po-faced idiot out there, there will be a dozen families queuing up for the Zoo.
And look what it’s done for publicity – it’s been on the radio, it’ll no doubt make the newspapers and the television, and people are apparently blogging about it (including Baldy, right now).
And a third lesson is a little less obvious, but perhaps even more important than the first two. See, this is like the “loss leaders” supermarkets sometimes run, only the cost to letting someone into the zoo without a ticket is practically zero.
But look… kids come with parents. Parents have to pay to get in. Parents buy ice creams and shit for the kids… and because the kids got in for free, the parents have this idea in the back of their heads it’s a cheap day out, so tend to spend more (this is well researched and demonstrated phenomenon).
And… almost any business could do this for almost any “awareness week” or other celebration you can think of and drum up plenty of business (immediately I’m thinking of hairdressers stealing this idea practically as it is).
And it’s all free – it wouldn’t require any direct mail, adverts, fliers or anything like that. All you’d need is a few press releases and the press will be all over you like a rash.
Sad fact is, though, most business owners won’t.
They’ll look around and see no one else is doing it and be too lily-livered to stick their head above the parapet.
Oh yeah, businesses want to look different, all right, just so long as they can look exactly as different as all the rest.