Stickers are a serious tool in the marketing strategy of small businesses. Though this post will explore ideas for their use in the legal industry, I will in no way adhere to adhesive, peel-and-stick imagery or cling to dad-joke puns about stickers, leaving you stuck with a post full of tacky jokes. Except, oh yes, I will. Promotional adhesives are the most fun you can have when marketing and you should affix yours to everything, everywhere, all the time.
I am an avowed stickerist, with a laptop shell obscured by a thick layer of die-cut emblems doled out to me by every marketer at every event I’ve ever attended. I love them. I always ask for more and then immediately stick them everywhere. Which is how stickers work. Because they’re cheap, they’re real, they facilitate branding, and they’re fun.
Stickers Are Portable and Inclusive Branding Tools
My first experience with the power of stickers came from 1980s punk. Bands would print their most iconic imagery onto sticky labels and give them away at shows. Those stickers quickly found their way to car windows, skateboards, guitar cases and the backs of subway seats. Merch tables at a punk show weren’t about making money, they were about branding. They were about extending visibility. Stickers took that visibility and gave it legs.
The fans sticking stickers on stuff were brand ambassadors for the bands they loved, placing their portable adhesive branding materials in highly visible spots for free. It still works like that. Give a horde of conventioneers a stack of gum-backed paper illustrations and they’ll extend your brand to the most unexpected places. It gives people a little ownership of your message. They are, briefly, the curators of your brand.
Stickers Are Real and They’re Cheap
The magic of promotional materials is their tangibility. There is no more sticky marketing tool than a t-shirt (well, maybe a tattoo), which your target demographic wears on their body on your behalf. Stickers are just as sticky and for what you’d spend on a Facebook ad, you can buy a crate full. This means you can give them away without worrying about the ROI. The moment you hand someone a free sticker, your ROI hits 1,000% when that person views it as a gift.
Because stickers are real. Your clients or staff or anybody in the street can hold them in their hands — which gives them strange stewardship. People will feel compelled to put your sticker somewhere visible. Give your stickers away and, just like punk fans, people will do your branding for you. But this is more than just about extending your brand. Every time someone affixes your logo to their laptop they’re making a personal recommendation. It’s visual word-of-mouth and it’s your people who make it stick.
Don’t Let Your Existing Marketing Get Stuck Doing All the Work
Some of the most successful and creative marketing campaigns used stickers. Folgers commissioned giant stickers of a cup of coffee they stuck on manhole covers in the dead of winter. Escaping steam made it look like the cup of Folger’s was fresh and hot. Pedigree placed stickers of dog bowls filled with their kibble on the floors of pet stores — after lacing them with the scent of dog food. Dogs scrambled over to a sticker to try to eat the food. UNICEF flipped the dynamic by camouflaging their stickers’ adhesive side up. The stickers stuck on people and when they reached down to remove it, the other side of the sticker looked like a landmine and promoted UNICEF’s effort to remove leftover land mines from war-torn countries.
Using decals in cause marketing helps an organization get its message into nontraditional spaces — often right where the cause is most urgent. In 2012, the Melbourne Metro launched a campaign to educate its riders, who weren’t taking the dangers of falling onto the train tracks seriously. So with true Australian wit, the McCann agency created the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign. They put together an original hit song, shareable videos and hilarious print advertisements — all featuring adorable cartoon characters getting killed in the most idiotic ways imaginable. The campaign was enhanced by decals of the characters. The campaign went viral and decals were a huge part of that success.
Decals Do It Anywhere, Faster
You can’t exactly hashtag IRL, but decals let you take advantage of popular memes or viral images and get in front of a trend fast. For example, when a bird landed on Bernie Sanders’ podium in 2016, Bernie bird stickers were flying off the printer (ahem) almost immediately.
Practical Tips for Tacky Tokens
You don’t have to be running a campaign to make good use of stickers. Want to make your ubiquitous hard-shell carry-on bag stand out? Put your face on it. Same with your laptop, your journal cover or your briefcase. If you stick your face on a thing, that thing belongs to your face.
Where to Get Your Stickers
Your existing promotional materials provider probably offers printed adhesives. But a few companies specialize in them. Three of the biggest are Make Stickers, Sticker Giant and Sticker Mule.
- Sticker Giant may be the oldest and is based in the U.S. They offer an astounding turnaround time. With design approval by 12 p.m. mountain time, most of their products ship the next day.
- Make Stickers has a user-friendly website where they’ve simplified product choice into four categories, making it easy to zero in on what you want.
- Sticker Mule is the most recognizable purveyor, due to its Facebook offer of free stickers and its global footprint, which covers 17 countries. Sticker Mule offers the widest range of products, from die-cut stickers to custom coasters. (Attorney at Work is a loyal customer.)
In addition to these, Vinyl Disorder has a massive product line including wall decals and quotes (which will be used shortly in the Creative Writer PRO offices). And Redbubble is a free marketplace for independent artists, where you can find stickers to suit practically any purpose or taste, from Star Wars heroes to “funny lawyer” stickers.
Look, don’t get stuck on figuring out if stickers work. Email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a couple of stickers in the mail so you can affix them to anything you want. Because here at Attorney at Work, we want our marketing advice to stick.
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And Just for Fun
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