That Time I Got My Ass Kicked By A-Train Marketing

Colorado Wind

I’m a strong believer in coopitition.

What’s coopitition? One of my favorite mentors – a counselor – Fred Fuller (who is turning 69 this year, Happy Birthday Fred!) told me that he often helped out his “competitors” (a word he says with actual air quotes) by teaching them his sales techniques and sending them customers he couldn’t help when he was fully booked.

“Nick,” he says adding an appropriate dramatic pause, “there are more than enough crazy people to go around.”

None of my competitors can do exactly what I do, and I can’t do exactly what they can do, so I have precisely zero problem sharing my best knowledge with competitors who are willing to do the same. I usually do this at meetups like the Social Media Round Table. Sharing knowledge is how we grow our industry away from gurus and so-called “experts” and into something more respectable.

Even so, few things piss me off more than getting my ass kicked by a competitor. Actually, only one thing – “I wish I’d thought of that” moments. But that’s for another blog post.

So there I was, on a blustry, windy Colorado day. The fifth blustery, obnoxiously fucking windy Colorado day, to be precise. And I decided to take 15 minutes to whip up a WTF Marketing PSA on the wind (the one above). I laughed my butt off and went off to do some client work. Little did I know that A-Train Marketing‘s Andrew Schneider posted a funny meme of his own and totally kicked my ass with it.

Here are the stats reports (A-Trains is on top, mine is on bottom):

A-Train Marketing Stats WTF Marketing Stats

Here’s Andrew’s perspective on it:

“First, you have a lot more material about you kicking ass than my rogue LOL post,” Andrew knows me well, and flattery gets him bonus points.

He went on to say, “In terms of ass-kicking, it is mostly limited to reach. There wasn’t any staggering surge of visits to our timeline or new fans. I haven’t done anything to help it. Actually, the only actions I took were to post it, share it as a comment on your post, and then later in the day share it on my personal wall. I subsequently went and liked the posts of those who shared (and were visible to me). That was actually only about a dozen. I would count it as a win for traffic to our website, although it hasn’t led to any new business yet. There was a spike in traffic from Facebook, which doesn’t really show up in the post insights but I can see in GA.”

Andrew’s post got ten times the number of shares; ten times the number reached; ten times the number liked. So how’d that happen? Here’s my breakdown:

  • WTF Marketing’s PSA is branded (our logo is on it), which some people can feel inherently yucky about sharing.
  • Andrew’s LOL post features two jabs: one at Hickenlooper (Colorado’s Governor) and one at Wyoming (a state Northern Colorado has a friendly rivalry against). Both of these things give it local clout, where mine is just a stick figure being blown over and a jab at the wind (which can magically talk). Magic and stick figures, for the record, do not trump the Governor prodding a rival.
  • Andrew’s post was timed about an hour after WTF’s, which meant more people would be at work and not commuting when the post was fresh.
  • Faces almost always trump logos/cartoons (at least, when those logos/cartoons are faceless) – Hickenlooper could have just as easily been an accountant riding a pony and done just as well.

What can we learn from this?

Given that WTF Marketing’s schtick is PSAs in stick-figure style and we do them for my giggles as much as for any business reason, I’m not overly concerned. In fact, while I was annoyed Andrew’s joke got more mileage, I mostly wanted to do this writeup to give him props for a nicely done viral post.

Overall, this PSA wasn’t pointed at our usual finely-tuned demographic (geeky/fun freelancers/small business owners) – the lot who love zombies, coffee, and staying up late. It was pointed at Coloradoans, and when you target that general of an audience, your humor has to be very local, very timely, and very focused. Our PSA missed the mark in that regard.

In any case, nice work Andrew – and thanks for giving me a good run.

And now a question for you, dear reader, what lessons have you learned from your competitors lately?