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Business Marketing

What We Can Learn From Washing Detergent

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about marketing is that inspiration comes from the oddest sources. In fact, the most innovative marketing ideas usually come from outside your own industry.

For example, when the banking industry came up with drive-thru banking the fast food industry took notice and “aha!” You can now grab you favorite greasy delight without leaving your car.

So, I’m always on the lookout for innovative and sharp marketing, no matter the industry.

What we can learn from Washing Detergent

This one’s pretty damn cool because it’s an excellent example of guerrilla marketing using direct mail. They nail a number of psychological triggers and build credibility in a very compelling manner.

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1) Declared purpose – They start out declaring the purpose for marketing – build confidence in the fact that Breeze Excel removes stains in one wash.

This is something you should also be doing. Before you roll out ANY marketing piece (yes, even “free” ones like an email) be very clear on what the result is that you’re looking for.

2) Build confidence/credibility – They knew that anyone can make claims all day long. When product claims start sounding the same, consumer belief and trust drops. They knew they had to back up their claim with indisputable proof.

Think about your marketing and the claims you make, or the claims of your competitors. There’s more than a handful of agents that claim they “sell the quickest or give the best service.”

Whatever your claim is, what are you doing so that your market actually believes you?

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3) Targeted market – They didn’t just send this marketing piece out to anyone and everyone. Nope. They targeted those that would be most receptive to their message and product – select women’s social groups.

I’ll preach target marketing till everyone actually does it and even then I’ll spout off now and then because chances are someone will want to challenge the fact of how effective and efficient it is.

See, this company didn’t just target women. They went after women who were members of inter-related groups. These women got together and talked with each other which means that the company benefited from word-of-mouth and the ability for these women to share common experiences.

4) Unique presentation – They knew that boring marketing doesn’t get noticed so they sent out a box wrapped in a t-shirt. Who wouldn’t notice and open that? In fact, it’d probably be the first piece of mail you open.

While other Realtors in your area continue to use the same methods and techniques (often to make the same claims as others) it’s important to set yourself apart. Make yourself a purple cow among plain ol’ boring brown cows.

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5) Call to action – Inside the box that was sent was a sample of the washing detergent with a call to action to wash the postal service ruined shirt with the detergent.

If your going to market yourself – and especially if you spend money doing so – you must give your prospect something to do once they receive your message.

In this case the call to action wasn’t “buy our detergent.” Instead, it was “try us out.”

Are you making it easy for your prospects to get a taste of your service without having to make a commitment? If you are, then you’re on the right track to winning more business.

Obviously, washing detergent can teach us something 🙂

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Has this case study given you any new ideas for marketing yourself or your listings?

Which points do you feel were most critical to the success of this campaign? Which would benefit your marketing the most?

Written By

Mark Eckenrode is a Certified Master of Guerrilla Marketing raised on comic books, punk rock, and Pepsi. He's also the chief marketing trainer at HomeStomper where AgentGenius readers can learn unconventional methods for winning with social media.



  1. A. Longo

    November 17, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Unreal. Great freaking marketing example. My brain is buzzing right now.

  2. Missy Caulk

    November 17, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Mark, just recently I received an invitation from American Express in a gorgeous box, you open it up and there set the invitation to use their credit card. I was like WOW.

    I usually stand in front of the garbage can and toss all the offers, but of course I was compelled to open it up being a think manilla envelope.

    Then a beautiful box to open, then the invitation. I didn’t accept as I don’t want the A express card but it was a wow factor.

    Wonder if they targeted me?

  3. Chris de Jong

    November 17, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Great post Mark! An outside-the-box marketing campaign is worth its weight in gold when you are in a marketplace saturated with the same messages and approaches to garnering consumer attention.

    When you start to see the same stock photography of a house, or two people shaking hands, you know it is a perfect opportunity to shake things up.

    It is for that exact reason our last marketing campaign piece was crafted entirely around Lego!

    Here are some more great examples of creative advertising campaigns to get the creative juices flowing 🙂

  4. Mara Hawks

    November 17, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I’d sure love to think I was being targeted with lovely items like what Missy Caulk received from AE…although I do get a lot of nice address stickers, asking for donations for children & research—and I continue to make contributions. I do like the idea of giving a prospect “something to do” once they receive my message—hopefully, other than tossing it in the trash!

  5. Paula Henry

    November 17, 2008 at 11:11 am

    The creative juices are flowing. Looking for the perfect marketing piece to start the New Year out on.

    I do believe targeted marketing is key. You have to reach the people who are interested in what you are offering – now, the offer?

  6. Mark Eckenrode

    November 18, 2008 at 10:00 am

    @missy: oh very cool. i love to see great mailings like that. in fact, i save them (yes, i am a marketing geek). in fact, feel free to forward me any great pieces you receive 😉

    you’d also be amazed at how targeted some of these lists can be.

    @chris: thanks for the examples, man. those are worth bookmarking for inspiration and a laugh.

    @mara: yeah, a call to action gives a propspect something to do once they start thinking “hmmm.” imagine if they were interested but you never told them what to do next!

    @paula: good thinking – many copywriters craft the offer before they write any other piece of copy. while everything else about your promotion gets them interested – it’s the offer that closes the deal

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