One day in 2009 I conducted a marketing experiment: I went to the post office and sent 20 coconuts through the mail.
I’d read somewhere that you could send weird objects through the Royal Mail. If you can stick a stamp on it, the law says that have to deliver it. Or something like that.
People claim to have posted watermelons, teddy bears, and even £20 notes – all ‘naked’ through the post.
So, I decided to try sending something unusual through the mail to promote a small marketing agency I was running at the time.
I decided to send coconuts.
The campaign went like this:
- I picked 20 marketing directors in my industry (online gambling) who I’d like to work with
- They would come into to work one day and find a strange coconut sitting on their desk
- This big, hairy coconut would have my agency’s logo stuck to the side – and URL to download an ebook I’d written
- Hopefully they’d get the coconut, download the ebook, read about my agency – and hire me to work for them.
That was my campaign.
One lunchtime, I went to Tesco and bought 20 coconuts. I took them back to the office, printed out some labels and superglued them to the side of each coconut. Sticking paper to a hairy coconut is really tricky. I had to go back out and buy three different types of glue until I found one that would stick well.
Finally, I was ready.
I hauled the coconuts down to the post office, stood in line and approached the counter.
Remember that I’d read the post office would deliver almost anything?
Turns out, nobody had told my branch.
“They’ll kick them around like a football”
“They’ll crack them open and eat them”
“They’ll get stolen”
Nobody there thought very much of my marketing campaign. Or the integrity of the postal system, come to that.
Still, they let me take my chances and mail them.
Here’s the cashier processing the coconuts:
I even had to fill in a customs declaration form and glue it to the shell:
Package contents: COCONUT.
Done. I retuned to the office and waited, not very hopeful.
Amazingly, it worked.
Within a few days, I started seeing sign-ups in AWeber. People were getting the coconuts, and they were signing up for my newsletter.
Within a week exactly half (10 people) had responded.
I slowly followed up with the rest of the folks – the 10 who I didn’t hear from. Those who I was able to reach told me they never received the coconut. One guy in Gibraltar just got a clear plastic bag with a smashed up husk, so I guess some did end up in a mailroom kick-about.
As far as I can tell, everybody who got a coconut did what I asked them to – signed up for my newsletter. That’s a 50% delivery rate, but a 100% response rate. Not bad.
Out of the 10 who signed up, one person became a client about six weeks later.
The cool part is, for a long time after wherever I went to industry events people would come up to me and say:
“Oh, you’re the guy who sent Jim / Janet the coconut!”
Word really spread.
Back when I did this, I would have only recommended this approach for VIP targets. The cost of the coconut and the mailing came to about £2.50 each. But with rising PPC costs, I think it’s worth exploring with a wider audience.
For example, LinkedIn’s minimum bid to reach the same people online is £2.14. And that’s just for a click – not to put a big-ass coconut on their desk.
Let know if you try it.
You’d be nuts to miss out.