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Newsletter #1003: The “Blank Walls” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

So much amazing potential is in a blank wall. It can bring a community together, help you spread the word about your stuff, and help your customers feel at home — you just have to tap into it.

Don’t believe us? Here are three examples from businesses both big and small:

1. Make it beautiful
2. Make it complimentary
3. Make it a conversation-starter
4. Check it out: Your World of Text

1. Make it beautiful

One neighborhood in Arlington, Texas, had a problem. Their houses faced a huge eyesore: the dilapidated backside of the town’s oldest strip mall. To fix it, the owner and neighborhood made a call on social media for artists to get together and make it beautiful. High-school students, professional artists, and a city councilman all worked together to paint different sections of the wall to create a giant patchwork mural over what had once looked like an abandoned building. Now the area is used as a community gathering spot. People get together behind the strip mall every month for an open house and music.

The lesson: It’s a reminder that the details matter — even the blank walls on the backside of your store. Something that might not have a significant impact on your business can have a huge impact on the rest of your community.

Learn more: CBS

2. Make it complimentary

MOO, a print and stationery company, plastered blank bulletin boards and brick walls — not with advertising — but with pretty cards that said stuff like, “I think you’re fabulous,” “You’re spectacular,” and “I think you’re awesome.” These walls full of unbranded compliments aren’t just eye-catching, they’re word of mouth tools. People took a hand-full of these complimentary cards and passed some on to their friends, spreading the word about MOO.

The lesson: When you make people smile, they want to share it with someone else.

Learn more: The Inspiration Room

3. Make it a conversation-starter

At some Caribou Coffee shops, they paint an entire wall with chalkboard paint and write conversation-starters like “What’s your favorite memory from last year?” or “What’s your favorite childhood game?” This gets people to pick up some chalk and participate, which gives their guests a great ice-breaker with Caribou Coffee employees and other customers.

The lesson: People love to feel like a part of something bigger and feel more connected to others. Caribou Coffee gives people that opportunity by turn a blank wall into an open forum.

Learn more: Charis Wilson

4. Check it out: Your World of Text

This text-based site lets you create your own domain for a blank page by typing anything after That domain will take you to a blank page where you can write anywhere.

Learn more: Your World of Text

You need a 14-year-old boy

Every so often companies get in trouble for an ad campaign that has some dirty double entendre. Sometimes they do it on purpose, but usually they miss it. Because mature professionals aren’t looking for crude sex references in everything.

Maybe you need a teenager or frat guy to help avoid unintentional scandal or offence.

A few examples:

The power to do


Coors Light Iced T


We have a new method for creating websites: We sort of steal things.

It’s hard to come up with a perfect vision for a new site on a blank screen.

So we have the entire team surfing for inspiration. We look at hundreds of sites and see what we love. A little of this color palate, that page structure, some of this navigation…  and we keep going until everyone says “THAT’S IT!”

What we get is completely unlike any of the sites we’re inspired by, and it’s more of a mash-up. It’s uniquely ours, and it’s great. 

Most important: We save months in the design process because everyone (including non-designers) can see the end result. Referring to real-live examples gives everyone the tools to explain what works for them. For example, it’s easier for the writers to see how the text will flow on an existing website than a wireframe.

Here are some similar thoughts from Seth Godin.

Hi! I’m back.

I haven’t written my daily blog posts in a few months, but I’m back, and plan to hit it regularly again.

This is my biggest break since I started writing in 2001, and I’m glad I did it. I had a lot of deep strategic and marketing writing to do for the company, so I put blogging on hold. It was too much to try to keep all those ideas in my head while also thinking about great blog posts. 

There’s a lesson for anyone who’s committed to long-term blogging (and blog excellence): Write when you love it, and write when you have something to say — not because you have to. Nobody can write great stuff under pressure and without passion.

You might want to take a look at this

A real thing I found on eBay:

IMG 1435

Bill gates portrait

Why the Ice Bucket Challenge works

Because it takes advantage of the fundamental principles of word of mouth marketing: Find people who already have big networks and get them to share Make people look good when they share Keep it fun, not an obligation P.S. Here’s a interesting investigation of the history of the phenomenon.

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3 buzzworthy displays that don’t cost a thing

This is a post from our project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day. Most brick-and-mortar businesses have in-store displays, and most are doing the standard marketing stuff with them (like decorating for the holidays). But as all word of mouth marketers know, doing what everyone […]

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Newsletter #1002: The “Lessons from a Texas Grocery Store” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] If you’re from Texas, you’ve heard of H-E-B. It’s the central Texas grocery store that people are actually proud of. It’s […]

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Newsletter #1001: The “Real People” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Real people: They work for you, they buy stuff from you, and they spread the word about you. And yet, most […]

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