One of the world’s leading suppliers of professional commercial and industrial floor cleaning equipment wanted to do “social media.” We figured it out.
The problem, of course, is that professional commercial and industrial floor cleaning equipment is really, really boring. Maybe it isn’t to people in the industry—but we suspected (correctly) there are very few people who are passionate about keeping office floors sparkling.
And that was the key, actually. Who cares? Or to put it more pointedly: is anyone celebrating—in a creative way—the lives of this company’s end user, the custodian?
We built a “pop-up publication” for this industrial cleaning company to celebrate custodians’ stories of the “Big Mess.” Detectives have authors turning them into characters and there are so many hospital shows that we’ve lost count.
What’s there for custodians? Messy Little Stories.
The Creative Process
I. The Kernel of the Idea
Messy Little Stories took 3-4 weeks to marinate. Their marketing materials was, well, pretty boring. Sure, you could tweet about turning radiuses, chemical solutions, industry awards—you could even do infographics! But it’d be the same old, ineffective, expensive fix. At the time, I was studying Heidegger and came across his idea of objects being either “present-at-hand” or “ready-at-hand”—that’s when I realized we were approaching the problem all wrong.
2. The Development
The problem was that the typical solutions made their products “present-at-hand.” For instance, if you’re drinking a cup of coffee and the cup is working, the object is “ready-at-hand,” meaning it is not present to you. It would become present if it were to leak or break. All their marketing was making their products present-at-hand, not ready-at-hand.
Our challenge was figuring out how to make their products “ready-at-hand”—while marketing the dang things.
3. The Conclusion
Silent allies. That was the second revelation. These products were the silent allies of custodians. By celebrating the “war stories” of custodians—the truly gross, heroic tales—we would position the products as “ready-at-hand.” The story entertained while the underlying message did the work: these products work. It also gave sales reps a good opportunity to “touch” prospects—send ‘em a funny story—and positioned the company in a positive light, as one that said thank you to the folks doing the thankless job of cleaning up after the rest of us.
Design Elements / Technology
While the text surrounding Messy Little Stories could have hints of playfulness, the design itself needed to be strong and clean. In discussions with custodians, you got the impression that these were not people who enjoyed “digressions” or “whimsical storytelling.” It had to be clear and to the point.
We built the publication on WordPress, making it easy for us and the client to add content as necessary.
It’s too bad. Just as we finished up building the platform, our champion got fired, killing the project. We’ll never know.
THE TAKE AWAY
Do you see potential with the conceptual framework behind Messy Little Stories? Are you in a situation similar to the industrial floor cleaning company’s? Let’s talk. We really, really want to try this concept.