So…what’s with the freaky redhead chick with a “d” tat on her arm?
One of the reasons I love being in business for myself is that sometimes I get to have a little fun and push the boundaries a bit. Sometimes I do that just for the sake of doing it, and sometimes I actually have a purpose.
About 15 years ago I was having an absolute blast living in Florida and accomplishing absolutely nothing with my life, an adventure I recommend everyone in their twenties has in their own way before they get real about life. It’s great to look back and remember so many experiences, both good and bad.
About a mile from my apartment was a stretch of road loaded with everything from nightclubs, gyms, and fast food restaurants to every variation of a Comfort Inn that you can imagine. This was the road you drove on every day if you lived anywhere in the vicinity because it connected you to the major routes both into and out of Tampa. In other words, this road was seriously travelled.
One day after I first got into town, I was driving on this road with my buddy when I saw a line of cars pulled over to the shoulder of the road and a huge crowd of people gathering towards the first car. As we drove past I realized what the commotion was about: standing on the side of the road next to a hot dog cart was an absolutely gorgeous blond in a red bikini and high heels.
“What the hell is that all about?” I asked my friend. He laughed and said, “Oh, that’s Haley, she’s a hot dog girl.” He then explained what, in fact, a “hot dog [blockquote type="blockquote_line" align="left"] standing on the side of the road next to a hot dog cart was an absolutely gorgeous blond in a red bikini and high heels.[/blockquote]girl” was. A hot dog girl was a brilliant marketing ploy on a stretch of road where every possible fast food brand around fought for recognition with neon signs 50 feet off the ground. But there’s smoking hot Haley, 5’8” in heels, with a line of hungry guys (and a few girls, too) wrapped around her little cart buying hot dogs and sodas as fast as she could serve them up. Totally brilliant! I consider myself a fairly good salesperson, but there is no way I could have created that kind of a stir!
That scene, “hot girls in bikinis selling hot dogs”, played out all day every day the whole time I lived there. It really made an impression on me, because how much more attention-getting can you get than that?! Not very much, I would say. So like I do with most things I find fascinating, I filed it away and figured it might be something I could draw on in the future. And I was right.
We have all been in a situation where we were vying for someone’s attention, either for personal or business reasons. Anyone that has ever submitted a resume knows the odds of your pdf titled “myname-resume.pdf” standing out from countless other resumes are soul crushingly slim when kept within the boundaries of proper business etiquette. So one day I was sending an email to a potential client who hadn’t returned my calls or previous attempts to contact him, and I thought to myself, “Hmm…what would Haley the hot dog girl do?”
What happened next could have been one of the smartest or dumbest moves I could have made. I made one very important tweak to that perfectly crafted email I was preparing to send. I changed the subject line to “Hot girls in bikinis selling hot dogs!”
Now anyone who knows me would probably say I could get away with that…I believe in a good laugh in business as much as in my personal life. The problem was that this person didn’t know me. But I figured I hadn’t heard from him up to this point, so if I turned him off with this pretty brazen move I really hadn’t lost that much. Guess what? Not 20 minutes after I hit “send” the client called, laughing hysterically and agreeing to engage me for the project.
I firmly believe that in the field of web design and development, it’s safe to assume that most of my competitors are as good as, if not better, than we are, at least[blockquote type="blockquote_line" align="right"]I wanted to put something together that would almost burn into the viewer’s retinas not only with color and contrast, but with subject matter as well.[/blockquote] in theory. But if you pull up a cross section of their websites, most sites don’t really have anything that makes them stand out. They may be fantastic standing alone, but when shuffled in a series of other sites from other firms, they all share the same general approach. digital reaction’s sites have historically been in that same boat, but not in 2012…
I wanted to put something together that would almost burn into the viewer’s retinas not only with color and contrast, but with subject matter as well. When I realized I wanted our own version of “Hot girls in bikinis selling hot dogs!”, I remembered the freaky redhead chick with a “d” tat on her arm. This was a piece of artwork I did months ago for an unrelated internal project that never got off the ground, but I always knew it would come in handy. It wasn’t just the sex factor I was going for (although she is a hottie), but more the attitude, the color, and the contrast. Of course, I got our “d” on her arm thanks to some old school Photoshop skills…
Obviously the more conservative folks out there could potentially take exception to my attention-grabbing method, but I assure you I mean no disrespect. It’s no different than Go Daddy using Danika Patrick and Jillian Michaels. They arguably all but cemented the Go Daddy brand into the minds of millions of would-be customers who wouldn’t have retained a second of their campaign if it were based on a guy standing in the middle of a server farm in a lab coat, which is really what their industry is about.
So now when a potential client is comparing us to the competition, not only do we stand out, but we also gain a competitive advantage because we have such a memorable visual in place. In fact, we have already been referred to as “the guys with that wild redhead on their site.” To that I say, “Mission accomplished!”
Thanks Haley, wherever you are–your hot dogs were terrible and your soda was warm, but your marketing presence was spectacular!