Mailchimp and the Make-Things-Happen Medium

Mailchimp and the Make-Things-Happen Medium

(Cross-posted on Branded Matters).


I've often referred to branded products as vehicles that can be used to evoke surprise and delight. A pristine example of this is the recent campaign by one of my favorite brands, Mailchimp (if you are reading this post via email, you are experiencing the simple power of Mailchimp's service). To celebrate their mascot's 10th birthday, they ran a surprising campaign: if you were in a major city and walked into a coffee shop and you just happen to be sporting a Mailchimp t-shirt, you'd receive a special surprise: free coffee, courtesy of Mailchimp.

The swag business is about making things happen. From enhancing customer loyalty to developing new business, this physical medium inspires action. The best practitioners are those that recognize these items as more than tangible products (e.g., a shirt, a mug, a mouspad), they recognize branded products as communication vehicles that translate meaning.

Do you utilize branded products to make things happen? After all, these are physical, multi-dimensional, calls-to-action and need to be seen in light of an intended outcome.

A few questions to ask as you develop your own campaign of surprise and delight:

  • Who are your heroes? Mailchimp's heroes are their brand advocates. Who are your brand advocates/heroes?
  • What emotion do you want to evoke in people that participate with your brand?
  • What purpose are you trying to communicate? (Appreciation? Education? Engagement?)
  • What results do you want? What is your intended outcome? (Mailchimp's purpose was appreciation and -I'm guessing- their intended outcome was the furtherance of brand loyalty. A nice bi-product of the campaign was a host of people talking about the campaign online, which translates into more attention and traffic).
  • What method of delivery should you use to surprise your audience? (Mailchimp's method of delivery was local coffee shops).

Mailchimp also practices a little used secret when it comes to branded products: instead of doling out shirts to everyone, they reward their most faithful and attentive customers by giving away a limited number of shirts at various times throughout the year. According to Mailchimp, "We think it’s a lot more fun to surprise our customers with unexpected moments of happiness".

Clearly, Mailchimp is a favored brand by many, not merely because their platform is fun and immensely useful but because they deeply appreciate their customers and brand advocates, a make-things-happen company using a make-things-happen medium.