I was trying to get rid of a rug.
A big one, in decent condition… large enough to cover a room, and therefore too large to either stuff in the garage without marital conflict or simply toss in the trash or leave at the curb.
I was on a mission to re-home it. So, naturally, I turned to my local Buy Nothing group and NextDoor, where surely, someone nearby would come scrambling for a free floor covering.
I cleaned it up, snapped some photos, wrote up a quick description with specs and posted it online.
I went back an hour later to see how many were vying for the gift of my free rug.
I refreshed my feed. How could no one want this rug?
No hands raised. Not a like or a comment in sight.
I let this all simmer for a few days. Then, after a particularly strong cup of coffee one morning I had a bright idea…
The time had come to put all those years I spent studying creative writing to work.
***Cue the knuckle cracking. Tear open a piece of gum. Turn that invisible hat around backwards. It’s time to have some fun.
I opened a Google doc and banged out a piece of copy and headline for my rug that broke all conventions of every other thing listed for free or sale online. I gave it a personality and a story. I posted it on the same websites, along with the exact same photos from before.
And I sat back and hoped for the best.
Suddenly, there was a flood of interest. The direct messages came pouring in. I may even have been getting a boost of exposure from the algorithm because a lot of people just wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed reading the ad.
In less than 24 hours, my rug was riding off into the sunset toward her new home.
It’s easy to forget that at our core, we’re all humans, and humans are inherently attracted to creativity. We are easily interrupted by something new and different.
We tend to think that because business is business and it’s all very serious that we always have to follow certain conventions and rules to be taken seriously. Maybe that’s true to some extent. But, when it comes to marketing and communication, it’s hard to get anyone to listen (let alone act) if we’re putting them to sleep.
There’s a case for creativity in our 9-5 lives. In fact, I’d say this area begs for it.
Creativity could mean humor. It could mean unconventional ideas. It could mean simply doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. It could even mean saying less. Much, much less.
My point is this: there’s power in breaking out of the formulas and templates all around us. There’s power in offering a carrot of something so different people can’t help but pay attention.
Steve Jobs knew this. Elon Musk knows this. The marketing folks at Progressive Insurance know this.
Every once in a while, I’ll come across a property description that breaks the mold — one that has a real voice, tells a story, and makes me smile. Do I go out and immediately buy the house? No. But the neurons in my brain start firing and I stop what I’m doing for a minute to spend more time there. And in a world that’s jam-packed with nonstop talking and advertising and information, that pause is worth something.
There’s a case to be made for it.
Now… I suppose you want to see this ad I’m talking about.