Content Marketing

Motorcycle Giant Sends Cash

Besides the occasional birthday card from Grandma, most of us are unaccustomed to receiving cash by mail. That’s why Honda’s new marketing campaign is so shocking.

I first became interested in motorcycles after working on the award-winning documentary Bring It 2 Peter. As part of the shoot, we retraced the steps of  Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper from the 1969 counterculture classic, Easy Rider. While interviewing riders, and traveling along the original Route 66, I fell in love with the sense of freedom that’s inherent to owning a bike.

Last summer I finally became a licensed motorcyclist myself, and as a smaller, fairly cautious rider, I wanted to buy a machine that wouldn’t be too overwhelming right out of the gate. The 250cc Honda Rebel was the perfect choice and, as an owner, I often receive correspondence from the company.

Usually, the mail I receive from Honda is fairly uninteresting warranty information or welcome-to-owning-a-motorcycle type of material. But when I rip open this particular envelope, a crisp new dollar bill falls out.

My first thought: “Is it fake?”

Having received many fake plastic credit cards in the mail and “too good to be true” checks, I immediately smell a rat.

Why is Honda sending cash through the mail?

I read the letter, and scan the accompanying survey. It is indeed an actual dollar. In addition, the company wants to ask me a few lifestyle questions so they can compile marketing insight.

As a product marketer and content strategist myself, I know how valuable these insights can be. They can help to more effectively target potential buyers, upgrade product features, and in some cases learn some embarrassing truths about your brand.

Do I fill out the survey? Of course I do. And I take the trouble to drop it in a mailbox. Why?

One of the reasons is that it is unexpectedly delightful to receive cash (even a small amount) by mail. This company just gave me something of immediate value, never knowing if I would fill out the survey.

As humans, we are often taught that “one good turn deserves another.” Plus, compared to the general public, I’m sure motorcyclists are statistically more likely to take risks and approve of risk-taking behavior (like sending money through the mail).

“Wow, how gutsy and irreverent – like me,” I think.

Now Honda (in my mind) is like me, they’re my pal. They give me money. It’s no big deal to answer a few questions – especially since they are fun. One of the survey questions asks if I feel that motorcycling increases my sex appeal (duh), or gives me a “sense of freedom” (double duh).

Of course, I have no idea what kind of response rate they get from these surveys. It would be a great A/B test. Maybe I’ll think about that later. Right now I’ve got to drive my sexy motorcycle down to the corner store and spend my free cash.

Like motorcycle movies? Check out Bring It 2Peter.

 

About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is an award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival.

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How Writing About Boring Stuff Made Me a Better Writer – and Rich

When I graduated from college with a Master’s Degree in Writing I was ready to write the Great American Novel, a few cover stories for Rolling Stone Magazine, and probably an Oscar-Winning independent film.

Looking back at my hubris, I can only shake my head. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting those things. In fact, it’s important to have long-term goals.

In my case however, I thought I should have all of these things immediately. When immediately turned into a year, two years, a couple babies, and a divorce later, I became panicky. My empty bank account let me in on the sad truth that in order to make a living I was going to have to write about *gasp* boring things.

Omigosh, boring things. healthcare, computers, vitamins, exercise, insurance, you know, boring things. Things my parents did.

I did not get to write about rockers with hot tattoos, or moody declarative statements about the world, or the Cannes Film Festival, or the tiny house movement, or if I did, it cost me more to research the article than I ever made from it.

What was I supposed to say about boring things? Yay, insurance. You pay too much and it’s boring. Vitamins: Healthy people take them. Boring. Fish oil and male enhancement supplements, eww (and boring).

I was a writer, a real writerly writer. I had deep stuff to say, epic stories to tell. But noooooooo, I had to sit at a desk and write about boring things.

I kept this attitude up for a year. Okay, three.

Then something happened. I dug in and started understanding and researching. Not the products themselves, but the stories. What the products did and how they made people feel. I stopped phoning it in and imagined life being better. Conflict. Resolution. Concrete words. Stories.

Suddenly the stuff I was writing wasn’t boring anymore. Not because insurance, vitamins, exercise, or missile technology is any more inherently interesting, but because I can make them interesting.

missile

I didn’t ramble on and on, stating the same idea three times. Sentences were leaner due to the strict editors and creative directors with whom I worked, even though in the beginning I hated these boring people just like the boring things. But with their patience and insight they got me to the point where I could make toothpaste sound like a chapter in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. For that I will always be grateful.

Then the money came. Well, the numbers came first, as in people were responding to the copy in a way that made the analytics guy smile, so I got a raise. You know, that whole corporate, measurable results thing. That’s real if you actually have results to show.

MORAL: There’s no such thing as boring stuff, just bad writers.

HOMEWORK: If you want to be a better writer, pay your dues and, if you can, spend a few years writing about “boring stuff.”

In the process you will:

  • Make more money
  • Learn to employ more effective storytelling techniques
  • Become a better editor
  • Become a better researcher
  • Write tighter copy
  • Learn humility**
  • Act less entitled**

*What I am would not be considered rich to some people. But I’m a writer and I pay my bills, so there’s that.

** I think the last two were more of a gift for the people around me, as these qualities made me more likable as a teammate, friend, mother, wife, adult, person, human being.

5 Secrets to Crowdsourcing Success

In 2010, Janelle Sorenson and I were trying to figure out how to fund our short documentary, Bring It 2 Peter. Part of Janelle’s job at the time was the decidedly unglamorous task of sorting mail. However, occasionally she would stumble upon something interesting, like a hand-scrawled envelope addressed to Hollywood actor Peter Fonda.

The envelope was dirty and wrinkled when we found it, and it had multiple postal markings. The last of which was a stamp that said, “Undeliverable.”

We took that as a challenge and decided to follow Fonda’s route from his most famous movie, the 1969 cult classic, Easy Rider, retracing his steps in reverse to Los Angeles to locate the actor.

The road to Bring It 2 Peter.

The road to Bring It 2 Peter.

It should be easy right? We’d just borrow a camera and go!

CHECK IT OUT > Our 2010 Kickstarter Page

I’m sure your project is no different. I’m sure it’s amazing. I’m sure you’re excited and full of joy and hope and everything but capital.

“What’s capital?” you may ask. Capital is the upfront money it takes to make a film. Or a record. Or a macramé bust of Marie Antoinette. We artists need it. And I’m going to tell you how to get it. Or at least how we got ours. So without further ado, let’s get going.

  1. Don’t Talk About the Money – It seems crazy since that’s what you’re trying to get, but your backers are more focused on the finished product. They want to think about what it will be like to hold it in their hands and tell all their friends that they helped make it happen. At least that’s how I felt with the projects that I have chosen to back. In fact, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have now found that certain Kickstarter phrases seemed to guarantee failure. I’m not sure about all that, but it’s definitely best to focus on the emotional impact of what you’re doing. Tell your story. Kickstarter (or IndieGoGO or whichever platform you choose) takes care of the money part for you.
  2. Shoot a Great Video – A picture is worth a thousand words, but video can be shared on Facebook, or a blog, or anywhere web traffic roams. A video is content and people LOVE to share content, especially if it is surprising or novel. Why? Because it makes them look cool. And deep down, we all kinda want to be cool.
  3. Hire a Writer or at Least an Editor – One thing that Janelle and I had going for us with our film is that we were both writers. We had three English degrees between us, as well as some marketing and publishing experience. I’m not saying everyone has to have that, but you can definitely hire somebody to edit your page fairly reasonably. Check out the Freelance Writer’s Association website for a ballpark cost. You can also hire a local college student who may work for deferred payment (they get paid once you make your goal) or even just a credit in the project. Ask around.
  4. Be Realistic – Sure Amanda Palmer got a million dollars to fund her project, but she’s Amanda Palmer. If you don’t meet your goal, then with most of these crowdsourcing platforms, you get nothing. One of our biggest concerns with Bring It 2 Peter was not only getting nothing, but of being labeled a failure. The idea that there could be this website out there with a giant stamp of “Did Not Make Funding” for one of our pieces of art was just not an option for us. So what can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen? Well, a couple of things. Number 1 (actually number 4) is to lowball. I cannot stress this enough. Put up the lowest possible figure that could possibly allow you to make what you want to make. Why? Because you cannot fail. I don’t care if you have to set the limit at $100 and your mom pays it. Which leads me to number 5.
  5. Have an Angel in Your Pocket – Not a real angel, although I’m sure that would help too. I’m talking about an angel investor. Somebody you know with a decently high credit card limit in case you’re 2 hours away from the end of your funding period and don’t feel like you’re going to make it. You can’t use your own credit card because that would be cheating, but your dad, or great aunt Mildred are fine examples of angel investors that can share in your success.

About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is an award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival. Watch it now at:

http://www.amazon.com/Bring-It-Peter-Craig-Jackman/dp/B00DY7R2NO