shared with readers the different ways we're pitched by companies wanting coverage. We mentioned our favorite way (hint: RSS) and have been enjoying the feeds that have been sent in since. We also noted the arrival of the twitpitch - the new trend of pitching via Twitter. Meanwhile, another company had a completely different idea: pitch via mail. Yes, postal mail.Earlier this month, we opened up and
Postal Mail Pitching
These days, with the internet, IM, Twitter, and all sorts of technologically advanced ways to communicate with each other, the concept of sending a letter via the mail seems outdated and quaint. Yet, despite that, or perhaps because of it, a personalized mailing catches one's attention.
In a box usually stuffed with bills (ugh), magazines, and, let's be honest, lots of junk, a hand-addressed padded manilla envelope from Canada stands out.
What the envelope contained was a company's pitch, but cleverly disguised as a welcome letter to a new company called Tubetastic, where, apparently, I had accepted the job of Tubular Webmaster. An enclosed organization chart showed where I was in the company hierarchy, circled in yellow highlighter. Among my colleagues at Tubetastic were fellow journalists and bloggers. I even had a barcoded nametag.
Tubetastic Org Chart
Additionally, a username and password were provided to the company's intranet web site. And there came the pitch. Subtle, but intriguing enough to try out.
Tubetastic's Intranet, Brought To You By ThoughtFarmer
The actual product being sold here is not a web site for Tubetastic (Motto: "We Make Tubes. A whole series of them."), but the software running the intranet.
The software, called ThoughtFarmer, is actually an easy-to-use platform for creating a company intranet. The feature list is fairly comprehensive, providing users with tools to have conversations, tag pages and documents, manage photo galleries, create PDFs from web pages, monitor news via RSS, transform emails into web pages, share announcements, search the site, control revisions, perform rollbacks, create an employee directory, maintain libraries, link lists, and polls, and much more.
Learning About ThoughtFarmer's Product
Unlike many companies pitching, the ThoughtFarmer team didn't just tell us what their software could do nor did they ask for our time via an on-the-phone walkthrough. Instead, they appealed to ego and curiosity to intrigue us enough to take a look.
And that look didn't just lead to an empty template of a site - they built out Tubetastic as if it was a real company's intranet, complete with fake logo, their own domain name, and content - lots and lots of content.
Here, all Tubetastic "employees" could see the ThoughtFarmer product in action - the feeds, the changes, the photos, the news, the departments, etc. There was also an intranet page just for me, with the Read Write Web feed on the side, my contact info (fake, whew), and darned if they hadn't mined my posts to retrieve quotes about social media in the enterprise, each featuring my very own words.
Creative Marketing Still Works
Although we've pleaded for the RSS feeds (or the twitpitches) from companies when being pitched to, this "Tubetastic" campaign goes to show that creative marketing can still work, too.
In saying this, I'm not worried that next week will find my mailbox filled with more of the same. What ThoughtFarmer showed was an investment of effort, something most companies won't take the time to do.
Not only was an effort put forth, they even took the time to be funny. The slogan alone was clever enough, a hat tip to United States Senator Ted Stevens infamous metaphor for the internet, but they went on to fill the intranet with articles about the company's progress, like the one titled "Our Tubes Are the Shiniest for the Third Year Running." (Sample quote: "For the third year in a row, our tubular QA experts have come home with the trophy for best tube polishing.")
However, what's really great about the campaign, besides the creativity in their approach, is that anyone reviewing their product didn't have to imagine what it would be like, they could try it out for themselves on their own time.
ThoughtFarmer noted on their blog that they knew they took a risk, saying "In our experience, the best campaigns are the ones where we feel queasy about their launch."
Well guys, put down the Tums, the campaign worked...and the product isn't too bad either.