Promotional Marketing - How To Generate Better Ideas

Michael Merrick Crooks

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I walked into the office of my Chiropractor/Acupuncturist and signed in. There on the desk were three pens. One looked like a syringe, another was a crooked pen and the third looked like a bone.

"What are these, " I asked, knowing full well they were pens.

"They're pens, " the doctor replied. “I'm trying to decide which one to promote my practice with. What do you think?"

It took me a minute to respond. I was dismayed that someone was trying to sell him such cliché’ ideas. Who ever this someone was, had little understanding of the good doctor or his practice. I was also a little irritated that he hadn't called me in the first place.

"Let me guess, " I said, holding up the syringe pen. “Our patients love it when we needle them. "

"Yeah, " he blurted out in amazement.

I held up the crooked pen and said, “We'll get you back on the straight and narrow. "

"Well, yeah, " he exclaimed.

I picked up the bone-shaped pen and said, “The imprint involves the phrase, no bones about it. "

The doctor came to the sudden realization that the ideas he thought were so clever only moments before, were neither clever or original.

"You're always talking about blood flow, energy flow and balance, that's your message. " I said. “So when it comes to your promotional marketing, why is your message suddenly bones, needles and crookedness?"

I told him if he wanted ideas that supported his message and what he was really about, we'd have to look beyond the obvious.

Promotional marketing professionals often stop at the first idea they think of when developing creative ideas to promote their business, event or brand. And while the first thing they think of may indeed make sense, these ideas are usually cliché and tired. But by digging deeper, better promotional marketing ideas can be discovered. The key in this case is to focus not on the “tools of the trade" such as needles and bones, but to focus on the philosophy of the doctor: balance and flow.

Several promotional marketing ideas came to mind. Imprinted mugs and imprinted packets of tea with multiple tea bags inside. Patients could think of the doctor numerous times when they enjoy the tea. And, he can always offer them more tea bags on return visits, reminding patients to share with a friend.

Mugs make great sense for doctors and other medical professionals. They serve as a nice handout to first-time patients. But often their real promotional marketing value becomes evident when a few mugs are stored at the local florist. When the doctor learns of a patient illness, an arrangement is created and delivered in the doctor's imprinted mug. This also works great for congratulatory events.

As far as pens go, there are pens that contain a liquid with a custom float inside. As the liquid flows back and forth, the logo or some other icon flows back and forth as well. A blood flow or energy flow message is now appropriate.

Stretching is also an important part of a Chiropractic therapy regime. So an exercise band might fill the bill.

Then I thought of bandannas. Bandannas are being used creatively in a broad range of venues. Festivals, communities and businesses are printing maps, schedules and take out menus on them. Along that line, a Chiropractor or Acupuncturist can imprint a map of the body on a bandanna. The map could show how and where an imbalance creates pain. Or I could show acupuncture points and to what part of the body those points relate.

Thinking creatively is something that can be learned. There are two books I discovered early in my career that have been especially helpful in generating new and better ideas for my clients. The books, both by Roger von Oech, are, “A Whack On The Side Of The Head" and “A Kick In The Seat of The Pants".

As for the Chiropractor? We co-branded a body-map themed bandanna with other businesses such as a fitness center, a drug store and a massage therapist to offset the higher cost of the item.

Perfect! Creative, relevant, useful and affordable promotional marketing.

Michael Merrick Crooks is a 23-year advertising veteran, copywriter and founder of Crooks Advertising Alliance. His firm, based near Lansing, Michigan (USA) is a creative strike-force that provides advertising, creative problem-solving and promotional marketing services to a diverse client base. His fresh thinking is the result of maintaining the insight of a 7 year old. Always questioning. . . . asking “why?" From logo development and brochure writing, design and production to targeted, promotional concepts, Crooks has an uncanny ability to look at the same thing everyone else does and see something different. For more thought-provoking marketing articles and insights visit or


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