I’m thinking about running a contest.
I’ve been thinking about running a contest to promote another site I’ve been working on. Now, before anyone get’s too excited, this is something that I’m just speculating on right now and wouldn’t even start for months, if I do it at all. For whatever reason, I’ve been a little nostalgic for the old, Internet “boom” days. Those heady days when the Internet bubble hadn’t quite burst and receptionists might be paper millionaires. It was that culture that launched many of the websites that we all love today, like Amazon.com, along with so, so many that never made it. There are still some remnants from those days, like ThinkGeek.com, who sold us all crazy t-shirts and junk for our desks, a way to spend those ridiculous salaries so many geeks were making at the time. I should note, however, I was not one of those making the giant salary. I was just a “working-class” geek who ground out networks like some kind of piece-worker who lusted after so much of that material culture. I especially loved the imported vinyl toys that were around then and have since passed into a kind of obscure subculture that still lives on the web. (You can find examples of what it’s become at KidRobot.com) So, the idea I had for the contest has been influenced by all that. Also, I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of other people’s desks and bags. I love to see the contents of their life as bounded by the confines of an office or the bag they carry. Of course, there’s a trick writers use to help define their characters by what they carry in their bag, or luggage. Obviously, the idea that what one carries on a daily basis in some way defines who they are. I know I’m not the only one, too. There’s a Flickr group dedicated to “what’s in your bag” that I find endlessly entertaining.
So, it’s with that in mind that I started thinking about the contest. I had in mind to put together six or twelve bags, filled with junk, as if they belonged to a designer or geek who’s life one might covet. Perhaps someone I wanted to be once, or wish to be in the future. Maybe just what strikes me as an interesting character or someone I would like to meet. I’d like to include some sort of branded merchandise, whether it’s the bag or pens or something else, I’m not sure. Ah, but that does put me in mind of another theme from that era that seems to have changed some; schwag. This was the stuff that was passed out at the trade shows that seemed to happen every week, advertising new companies and new services and even reminding us of the old companies. There were companies back in the day that only seemed to exist long enough to produce a month or two worth of schwag and then slip silently beneath the waves. (In fact, I suspect I have a few t-shirts from some of them!) At one point, there was so much schwag floating around that there was a company who did nothing but package and ship schwag to subscribers, called ValleySchwag! They don’t exist any more, but a new company has replaced them called Startup Schwag. In any case, a lot of us who were in IT during that time have fond memories of running about collecting the “best” schwag at conferences and trade shows, so, I’d love to include some of that sort of junk in my contest give-aways, too.
At heart, I’m a marketer. I have a degree in Marketing and, perhaps more importantly, I grew up with an inveterate salesman. He was always talking about sales and marketing and how integrated that all is in business at every level and, somehow, that became supersaturated into my personality. I’m always thinking about promotion and advertising. People always talk about getting people to read their blog or look at their photographs or whatever, but they almost never do things to make that happen. It’s not rocket science. All you have to do is give people something they want, something they need. Word will travel. Honest. So, that’s my intention with this contest. I’m not entirely sure how to get everything squared away, but by the time I’m ready to launch it, I will. Until then, though, what would you all like to see in the bags? Keep in mind that I won’t include electronics like laptops or iPods, or weapons, or cash or anything that equates to cash like gift cards. Most importantly, no “adult” products, like porn or condoms or anything crazy like that. (Well, okay, maybe condoms because that strikes me as funny.)
So, if you want to see something in one of the bags, or have suggestions for running a blog contest or any other related comments, leave me a comment. Also, if you have something that you’d like to include, let me know! We can probably work something out to let you benefit from the advertising push. This is, incidentally, a contest I plan to run for about a year, either monthly or bi-monthly, depending. And, no, it won’t be on this blog, but another project which I don’t want to directly link to this. Don’t worry, though, if you’re a regular commenter or an old friend or have suggestions about this contest, I’ll be sure to let you know what the project is and when the contest starts.