I haven’t decided to get into any illicit businesses. In fact, as Justin Jones reports in his Selling and Marketing for Contractors blog, the person giving away the bags was representing the Air Force — at a mud run.
Now, I’ve never been to a mud run (where the goal in part seems to be to get as muddy and dirty as you can imagine) and don’t think I really would enjoy that activity — but obviously the event is a success where Jones lives. As for the bags, well, Jones observed that there wasn’t much interest when the Air Force rep tried to induce participants with the line: “Would you like a bag” — at least at the race’s start.
At the end, he noticed something was different. The line: “Would you like a bag for your dirty clothes?” — the four extra words — certainly takes on a different meaning AFTER the race.
Jones used the example to explain that you need to go beyond saying what you do, “We build homes” — to “Do you need more room for your family?” representing engagement and need.
He is right.
There is more to the story, however. After all, I don’t think anyone at the mud run would actually want the bags before the race’s conclusion — after all, who needs to carry around extra stuff and it wouldn’t help much to get the clothes-holding bag muddy before you need it. However, clearly the Air Force marketers had enough common sense to realize that there would be a time when there would be a need for the service/message.
Then there is the environment — I mean, “mud runs” — well, they aren’t for me, but you would know soon enough if the participants/audience match your demographic and community. Engaging with potential clients at community events, along with charitable and association activities, can provide much more effective results than any brute force initiatives and intrusive strategies such as canvassing and telemarketing (in the case of the US military, there is probably a good correlation between recruitment objectives and the interests of young people who would participate in mud runs, so it makes sense to be there.)
I’ll stay out of the mud, but appreciate that in your community, the story may be different and those plastic bags may be worth far more than their weight in marketing gold.