Funky will still fail if you’re doing it wrong

Any marketing idea—no matter how funky, gimmicky, or just plain weird—will fail if it’s poorly executed.

Here in Austin, we’ve developed an international reputation for keeping things weird. This ethos can even include our marketing. Did you know about the local company that used to ride rollerblades while distributing gig posters for bands?

Another version of this type of low-cost, grab-their-attention kind of advertising actually happened to me, with one glaring exception.

Imagine that as you approach your parked car, you notice something sticking out of the driver’s side window. You get closer and recognize it as a $100 bill. Right in that moment some clever marketer has seized your attention because, as you remove the paper from your window, you realize it’s not really a C-note but a business card offering $5 off your next meal at a nearby restaurant.

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But, in my case, I didn’t see money sticking out of my car window, like the picture on the left. Whoever was placing the cards didn’t understand the purpose or the importance of the $100 bill side of the card. Instead, I just saw a business card, like the picture on the right. I suspect that my initial reaction was no different from the next person’s—to throw it away without another thought.

The business-card-in-the-car-window trick sounds like it’s straight out of Jay Conrad Levinson’s no-budget, DIY classic Guerilla Marketing. And the gimmick of using a faux bill is so effective because there’s no way you’re going to ignore what appears to be free money.

The poor execution of the restaurant’s marketing plan—gimmicky or not—squandered an opportunity to capture the attention of a target market. Even worse, real marketing dollars were thrown away in the process.

A version of this post originally appeared on delaune.com.