UmbrellasIt rains a lot here.

Everyone has an umbrella. They lose or break them and buy another one. They give theirs to a friend and buy another one. Umbrella demand is high in Seattle.

There’s a tremendous opportunity that’s not being met here. Free umbrellas for advertising.

A few hotels and office buildings provide umbrellas as a courtesy but not with the intent to advertise. They’re using innocuous business umbrellas, which are lost among the others.

As a matter of fact, all umbrellas could be free if enough branded umbrellas were produced.

Don’t laugh yet, there’s something here.

Here’s how it can work:

A business gives away branded umbrellas whenever a customer comes into their building, or hands them out during the normal course of business.

For free, no charge, no obligation to bring them back.

In fact you don’t want customers to return the umbrellas. You want customers to take them home, use them in their neighborhoods, at the supermarket, give them to their friends.

Now your branded message is being seen more often and in more locations than you could afford to advertise in.

Think how low the cost per ad impression would be in this model. Probably much better than impressions from advertising on the sides of buses or some billboards.

Don’t forget to make sure all your employees get their umbrellas too. They add to the total number of impressions.

Here are a few details for free umbrellas to work:

Good Quality

Free umbrellas must be good quality so people will keep and use them, and people don’t like throwing away something of quality.

Remarkable Color/Design

Umbrella design must stand out, they must be remarkable in color, design or both – imagine a day-glo pink, leopard-spotted umbrella in a sea of black umbrellas.

Limited Number of Takers

Not everyone will want to use a free remarkable umbrella. But for those that do, the scarcity raises visibility against the rest.

Those choosing your free remarkable umbrellas will take it as a fashion statement, or just because they prefer staying dry over being like everyone else.

Lots of Ad Space

Place your logo on the handle butt for visibility in umbrella stands. Place ad copy on the top covering to be read while it’s open, and text up the handle.

Why aren’t umbrellas free now?

Traditional business thinking.

Its logic is about selling umbrella features and benefits to its distribution channels. Our umbrella is better than that umbrella, or its cheaper.

Umbrella advertising could be the next big thing. And you can tell everyone that you read about it here.

Hope it keeps raining.

Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: change, marketing, selling

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