End of Year Idea Exchange: A $10.77 Marketing Tip

This past year, I spent quite a bit of time in crowded hearing rooms and conference auditoriums filled with suits, ipads, smartphones and laptops – but few electrical outlets. To recharge a device, you’d have to wait for an outlet to open up. And even if that happened, there was no guarantee that the outlet would be within the vicinity of your seat — which meant that you’d need to leave your equipment under someone’s chair to plug in and hope that no one would steal it.

I was somewhat annoyed that the facilities where I was spending so much time hadn’t been upgraded to add more outlets.  At the same time, as a latecomer to these sorts of events, I was equally annoyed that in within these enormous rooms full of supposedly smart people, none of these geniuses even tried to come up with a better alternative.  So after one or two plug-less experiences, I remembered my power strip and electric extension cord that I typically bring with me on trips and decided to just keep it up in my computer bag even if I was just staying local.  Since then, whenever I find myself in a similar situation, I’ll plug int the extension cord, run the power strip to a central location and voila – whereas previously, only two people could huddle around the outlet, now five or six could conveniently share.

So what’s all of this got to do with marketing?  Plenty.  Because my power strip and extension cord allow me to make connections with my connection!  Whenever I plug in, at least one or two colleagues will gratefully thank me for sharing or alternatively, will compliment me on my preparedness.  Not only does a power strip let me stand out in an otherwise anonymous meeting room, but it also serves as an ice breaker to open up conversations. At some point when I remember to do so, I’d like to put my business card in a luggage tag and attach it to the extension cord for added visibility (I would also love to give away branded power strips, but I haven’t been able to find any). But even without this added extra, my $10.77 investment has proven itself a powerful (!) marketing tool.

What’s your favorite cheap marketing trick? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.


  1. Tamar Cerafici on January 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    A holiday story about a $15,000 power strip. This seriously happened last week. I meet once a week with a marketing mentor at a Panera store north of Pittsburgh. After reading this post, I took a power strip. For an establishment that encourages long stays and computer use, Panera is awfully low on outlets. About 10 minutes after I plugged my cord in, two real estate developers asked to use an outlet. We bonded over a shared need for good social media (at which my mentor excels), and it turned into a deal for her and a referral for me. My mentor charges 15,000 for her services.  The power strip was $3.50  at Home Depot.

    Another thought – have your name & info imprinted on the power strip, and leave it with whoever is using when you’re ready to get back to the office.  See if the Law of Reciprocity works for you.

  2. Jay Pinkert on January 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    You really hit on something there. Small kindnesses and sharing in large, anonymous gatherings is an easy way to make connections (no pun intended).
    I’m not a smoker, but I always envied smokers for their networking advantages — their unspoken pact to share cigarettes and flame sources. Even their ghetto-ization to designated smoking areas. There was a Friends episode where Rachael faked smoking because all best networking at Ralph Lauren took place outside on smoke breaks.

  3. Mike Korner on November 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Excellent idea! Funny how the little things can make a difference even in Marketing.

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