I love Sharpies. I carry one in my travel bag at all times because you never know when you might need one — like the time that I accidentally gouged the wooden desk leg in a hotel room. Applied a little black Sharpie and it was as good as new!
Other people dig Sharpies too, such as the guy who decorated his basement with a Sharpie or celebrities such as the Olsen Twins who use them to sign stuff or creative people like Mike Peyton, a "snake artist."
So it was fun to come across the Sharpie Blog, "a dedicated space where we can showcase some of the really fun, cool, creative stuff that gets made using Sharpie markers." The blog is written by Susan Wassel, better known as Sharpie Susan.
I connected on Twitter with Bert DuMars, Vice President E-Business & Interactive Marketing at Newell Rubbermaid (makers of Shapies) to learn more about this blog and others developed by the company.
Graco (another product from Newell Rubbermaid) was the first blog that was created. "They read mommy bloggers and met with a bunch of them in person to find out what they wanted," says DuMars. The mothers that they spoke with said to avoid being hardcore about the product and instead focus on helping parents.
"Then about a year ago, customer surveys showed that Sharpies were fun and creative but the site, because it is just a product site, was not so much fun," DuMars says. "So that led to the idea of a blog about creativity and art. The blog is about showing additional use for the pens."
I like that the Sharpie blog is not a hard sell. A lot of the blog is focused on art and Sharpie Susan does a great job showing off the work of the artists. Sharpie King for example creates works that can sell for thousands of dollars.
Sharpies already had fan sites, Facebook groups and video tributes, so the team needed to work with what was already happening. "We didn’t want to invade and ruin much of the social media stuff going on around Sharpie," DuMars says. "We wanted to help push it along a bit."
So what does executive management think about the blogs? "Senior people were happy to have us do this if we didn't invest a lot of money and didn’t harm the brand," DuMars says.
If your brand is fun and useful, consider the approach taken by Sharpie. Showcase your fans' creativity and let them market for you.