What Can Business Owners and Marketers Learn from Beer Pong?

Posted by ImageWorks Creative Team March 01, 2011

Well, a few creative examples come to mind:

  • Determine next year’s marketing budget based on the simple formula of 2% gross sales x the number of ping pong balls you successfully land in half-filled cups of a tasty medium-bodied beer, or
  • hold a “Beer Pong Shootout” to determine which employee deserves a promotion.

While both ideas would make for a fun office party, that’s not exactly what we have in mind.

Actually, what we mean is for you to think more along the lines of “Purple Cow,” an inspiring book by Seth Godin. In the book, Godin postulates that marketers need to think about their products from a different angle. Uniquely, in other words.

So now you’re wondering how a purple cow has anything to do with beer pong and office parties, right? To start, let’s discuss the history of ping pong. The sport was founded in 1880 in India, and gained extreme popularity in the U.S. in the mid-1900s, becoming so popular, in fact, that it became an Olympic sport in 1988. Stay with me…

Now consider how the development of beer pong (a drinking game version of the popular ping pong) has affected ping pong ball manufacturers today. These manufacturers used to count on a fairly predictable amount of sales based on the popularity of table tennis. Now, nearly every sporting goods store sells a version of the beer pong table, and many come decorated in a plethora of designs or college/pro-team colors. Every frat house has them and they are at nearly every tailgate for sporting events, concerts, races, etc… Add alcohol and crowds of people, and a ping pong ball is lucky to make it through an hour of game play before being crushed like a recycled beer can.

You see where I’m going with this now, right? Beer Pong has led to a HUGE increase in sales and revenues for ping pong ball manufacturers. It wasn’t the ping pong makers who invented the game, though—it was allegedly some Dartmouth college kids. Regardless of who started the trend, you can bet that ping pong manufacturers were wishing they would have thought up the idea—much sooner.

Here’s the lesson: We need to think outside the box and think of new ways to market and sell our products to create a buzz (pardon the pun). Did Gatorade really need 30 years to figure out they could sell more than 2 or 3 flavors? What about the oatmeal companies? When I was a kid, we had Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat—no flavors. Now there is an ENTIRE aisle with every flavor you can imagine for instant oatmeal, and about another dozen varieties of oatmeal textures, from steel-cut to rolled, etc. Imagine the impact this has had on the sales for a company like Quaker Oats!

So, think “purple,” think unique. What can you do to make your services and products distinctive or different from their current position? Can you offer something that could make your customers see your products and services in a different light? Can your services be improved and presented in a variety of ways or to other audiences with only minor adjustments?

Of course, if you can’t think of anything and haven’t yet hired us to think for you, there is always beer pong. Now that’s likely to inspire some creative ideas!

is the founder and CEO of ImageWorks Studio, an award winning custom web design and marketing agency. You can learn more at www.imageworksstudio.com.

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