Toys form so many of my childhood memories, I’m sure they do for you as well. When I was a kid I loved going shopping with my parents because it meant that whether we went to a department or grocery store, I could probably find some toys to ogle over. And if I struck out and we only went to a grocery store, well they would at least have comic books, where I could look at the ads for toys.
But once, maybe twice a year, my family would go shopping in the ‘big city’. And in the big city, was this magical store called Circus World. When I went to a TG&Y or Walmart, at best I might find two or three isles of toys to drool over. But Circus World was an ENTIRE STORE FULL OF TOYS! It was a magical place for an 8 or 9 year old to be. There was an entire isle of Star Wars toys, then one for Six Million Dollar Man toys. And for some reason they had a section for board games (gross!). Oh and Hot Wheels and and and…well I better calm down!
I will always remember Circus World because it was completely different. It was a unique experience that’s never left me.
Around this same time, I lived in a very rural area with very limited options for television viewing. We are talking like 3-4 channels picked up by antenna. This is waaaaay before the days of satellite or cable TV. One of my few options for television viewing was PBS, which I generally thought was meh, other than Seasame Street and then later The Electric Company.
But around 1980 or so, I discovered this very odd and very quirky (especially for public television) show that came on every night at 10pm. It was a short program, about 5-minutes long called Jack Horkheimer, Star Hustler! Every week, Jack would tell us what was going to be happening when we looked up at the sky. Which stars would be brightest, which planets would be visible, everything. I have always loved astronomy so the subject naturally interested even 9 year-old Mack, but the format was so different from the rest of the programming on PBS. It was short, just a few minutes so I could always stay interested. And it was fun, even ‘hip’. Well here, see for yourself:
I could not for the life of me tell you what shows came on before or after Star Hustler, but I will always remember ‘Greetings! Greetings, fellow star gazers!’
The point here is, we tend to remember things that are unique and unexpected. Until I discovered Circus World, my 9 year-old self had no idea that it was possible to have an entire store that ONLY sold toys! I thought toys were the 2-3 isles in TG&Y between sporting goods and housewares. My 9 year-old self thought programming on PBS was pretty boring, until I found Jack Horkheimer, Star Hustler on late one night when I was probably staying up past my bedtime.
When marketing your products and services, think about how you can provide a unique experience for your customers that surprises and delights them. And if you do it right, you may even make a lifetime memory for your customers, which will mean a lifetime of word of mouth about your brand.