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B2C marketing begins with stickers, apparently

The Concept Spot serves other companies, so while I know a thing or two about branding, I mostly do it for others. My own branding rarely goes beyond getting my website, invoices, and proposals all to look like they came from the same company. In fact, after the slinky incident of 2007, I vowed I would never create any sort of “swag” or promotional products for my own brand ever again.

Then I went and started a podcast of ghost stories called Homespun Haints. And everything changed.

Hello, stickers

Shortly after beginning my podcasting adventure, I attended a conference and everyone handed me a sticker. A beautiful, vinyl, waterproof, die-cut sticker with their podcast’s “album art” on it. They told me they printed these wondrous pieces of art with Sticker Mule, a printer that, I’ve since learned, creates waterproof, die-cut stickers that can be ordered in quantities as low as 50. Perfect for a budding podcaster’s budget.

“Do you have a sticker?” they asked. I looked at my feet. Such a thing had never occurred to me. I handed them a business card.

After attending three more days of this conference without anything fun to give away, I vowed I would, too, order some pretty stickers from Sticker Mule.

But just 50. Because, after all, who in their right minds would want a sticker with my logo on it?

Sticker Mule did a really nice job with my stickers

(I had a flashback to the boxes in my basement filled with 250 logo-imprinted slinkies. For years, I would give everyone I encountered a slinky—and they would hand said slinky right back to me).

People seem to want stickers

As I devised ways to sneak my 50 new stickers into people’s bags and coffee, I was invited to lecture at Kennesaw State University about the visual ecosystem I had created around my podcast. Midway through my lecture, a woman in the front row raised her hand.

“Did you bring us stickers?” she asked.

I stared at her, open-mouthed.

“Uh, I will next time,” I fumbled. Really? These grown adults wanted to slap my logo in sticker form onto their water bottles and laptop skins? What was this wonder?

I realized that if this trend continued, I’d need to order more stickers. I decided to test the waters a little bit first.

A few weeks later, at the urging of my new podcasting friends, I started a Patreon. Thinking no one would ever sign up, I started promising the world to new patrons. “Buttons!” I exclaimed. “Stickers! And a coffee mug! All with my logo! All for your patronage!” No one will want this, I thought. No one wants to pay for my logo.

Apparently, I was wrong. After people began to sign up for the Patreon, I realized I needed to design—and order—more swag.

Lesson learned

Maybe it has something to do with the quality of Sticker Mule’s stickers, or maybe the world’s a little more sticker-crazy then I realized, but I’ve come to accept that grown adults want stickers with other people’s logos on them. I am making it a goal of mine to hand one to everyone I meet. This is a brave new world for me.

I mean, if I’m really honest with myself, I like stickers, too.

But, as experience has taught me, no one wants a branded, bright yellow slinky.

If you want to order your own waterproof, vinyl stickers, check out Sticker Mule. I’ve become a little bit obsessed with their products in the last few months. TIP: Be sure to sign up for their mailing list to get very amazing promos on the regular.

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