Surrounding today’s shipment of cat food, I met a new friend. His name is Box. And he (?) wants me to post pictures of my cats on Facebook. OK!

Every 2 months or so I get two bags of special cat food delivered to my house by Petflow.com. With free shipping. Without going to the store to attempt to find the special cat food or lug it home. One more time, with free shipping. Awesome. But for the first time today I noticed something else about Petflow that delighted me anew … a clever offline, low-tech, semi-hidden, shipping-materials-based push to Petflow’s Facebook page. Brilliant! And here’s why:

  1. Low risk: Normally the bottom of the box is just wasted space. The cost to add this generic message to the bottom of each already customized shipping container was probably very low.
  2. Delight: There’s a chance that some people won’t even see it, if the box is handled as intended right side up. but seriously, how often does THAT happen? So those who do see it get a little delight out of the fact that something interesting is actually ON the bottom of the box. Like they discovered it and others haven’t. Aren’t they clever consumers? Score one for positive branding.
  3. Personal feeling: I know every customer gets this same box (Oh my god, I just got a slight sad feeling at that admission, further proof that the message did hit home as a personal-feeling communication, awesome!). But it FEELS personal, perhaps because it’s in combination with the point above — it’s hidden so it must be meant just for people like me. Cool, smart people. And Box is casual. He’s real and normal sounding. He sounds like a pal, not a marketing person or a stiff paper box. I like Box. I kind of want to do Box this favor and share pictures of “my cuties” on Facebook for him. Score two for positive branding.
  4. Drive to social: To post these pictures, I have now Liked Petflow on Facebook and gone through the motions to post a photo of Mittens the cat claiming Box as his own. In the process I have also shared the Like and the photo with my network of 484 Facebook friends and commented on another post on Petflow’s wall, which was also shared with my network of 484 Facebook friends. Some of those friends have pets. Most, I’d wager. Some, like me, dislike lugging bags of pet food home from the store or wish they had more options in brands or formulas. They may decide to give Petflow a try.
  5. Naturally earned links: And a few total nerds and/or pet lovers like me will be so delighted by this whole experience and the brilliance of it that they will blog about it, thereby earning a valuable link back to the Petflow site and Facebook page.

All this for the low-risk addition of a generic but clever message on the bottom of a dumb old cardboard box. (Oh my god, I actually feel a tiny bit bad for calling Box dumb and old. I’m going to have a really hard time recycling him, I can tell.)

In all of our efforts to create the most brilliant online campaigns possible, this is an excellent reminder to remember the part that low-tech offline marketing can play in the digital marketing mix. Hats of to you, Petflow! Gotta run, I need to check and see if Box wants another cup of coffee.

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