Cast Covers and Marketing

There’s a common argument among PR and marketing people: is the most effective marketing and messaging created by those who use the product? For example, should you stack your dating website marketing team with young singles? Should your beard trimmer PR team be populated with hirsute men? Or can any good marketer come up with the goods?

I’m usually among the first to vote “No, a good marketer can do the job.”  One of my first clients many years ago was a winery association – I don’t drink.  I’ve worked for many years with enterprise software companies and never really been a member of that target market until recently.  I headed marketing for the Beacon Street Girls and have two sons.  But a recent experience has me rethinking that stance.

I recently took client service to an extreme and broke my leg just so I could test out a client’s product.  (OK, didn’t do it on purpose, really.  But come on, when you have a company that makes cast and walking boot covers as a client and you break your leg slipping on the ice, what else can you do?)  I was sporting a really ugly orthopedic walking boot on my right leg.

Our client, My Recovers, offers a wide variety of fashion boot and arm covers.  These very cool covers serve important purposes besides looking good:

  • The bright and cheery covers were a ton of fun – I got constant compliments and comments.  Everyone wanted to know more and know where to get them…for a friend, for their niece, for someone they knew who broke their leg.  (You never realize how many people break a bone until you break yours.)  I even had a special custom cover for going to SXSW.
  • The special outdoor covers kept my walking boot from getting wet in the snowy Boston winter.  (Yes, one of the worst on record in recent years.)
  • The covers kept my walking boot clean and neat. Even the doctor commented on that.
  • The covers kept the Velcro straps from sticking to (and tearing) my clothes, the furniture and rugs.  When I slept, the covers kept me from sticking to the blankets and ending up in a cocoon mid-way through the night.
  • The bright colors alerted people to the injury.  You’d be amazed how many times people step on your foot and you wouldn’t realize it, except when it HURTS.  (Especially riding the T in Boston.)  I’m sure I also got tons more sympathy than I deserved because my walking boot had FLAMES on it (or pink zebra stripes, or houndstooth check.)

Of course my client had alerted me to all these great benefits but some didn’t really sink home until I lived it…for 7 weeks and 2 days but who’s counting. I was also able to give product feedback like crazy.  And, came up with some packaging ideas – they really need to market that “Ultimate Broken Leg Gift Basket” I received.  Best thing ever.  The crutch pads and the crutch bag were great — when I was on crutches, being able to slip my cell phone into the pocket was so helpful.  I even figured out I could carry my coffee (with a cover) back to my desk at work.

Now that I’ve graduated to a “sport splint” and am back in my own shoes (only one pair fits over the splint but I’ll take it), I miss My Recovers cast covers. (I don’t miss not being able to drive and having to be driven everywhere!)

What do you think?  Are you a better marketer for products you yourself use?