These days, implementing a marketing strategy for your business that actually works can be pretty hit or miss. With new trends, memes, GIFs and videos going viral daily, it’s hard to know what tactics to use to really grab your audience’s attention. Fortunately for Manhattan Mini Storage (MMS), their witty one liners paired with old-school imagery makes for a marketing strategy that’s been going strong for almost two decades.
It all started in 2004, when Archie Gottesman, chief branding officer of MMS, used a billboard to depict a Buddha statue with a speech bubble saying, “My owner’s a Jew… again.” Soon after, she received an angry call from the Anti-Defamation League about her latest marketing experiment. It turns out, not everybody got Gottesman’s sense of humor.
“I’m Jewish,” Gottesman explained to FastCompany. “A lot of Jews try Buddhism for a while, then go back to being Jewish. I thought this picture was hysterical, but that’s the thing about our advertising: not everybody gets it; we’re dancing on the razor’s edge.”
However, that billboard wouldn’t be the last controversial one-liner gracing the streets of Manhattan. Since then, Gottesman has tried out more than a few memorable phrases such as, “If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married” and “Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?”.
So what is the secret behind MMS’ genius advertising strategy? One piece of advice Gottesman had was keeping the communal decision making to a minimum.
“Groups water down good advertising because everyone has a point of view,” says Gottesman. “It just seems that ads created by a committee don’t have a very strong voice.”
Instead, she hired a trusty sidekick, Stacy Stuart, a marketer with an MBA and experience at Ogilvy & Mather, who seemed to get what she was going for, and the two have been MMS’ branding department going on twenty years.
All in all, Gottesman’s outlook was to keep it simple. “There was no grand plan: we just decided to play up the funny. We’re in New York and we figured that New Yorkers are a pretty sophisticated audience, so we just gave it a try.”
So how much business do these clever ads bring in? While MMS, a private company, was unwilling to disclose growth or revenue figures, the business appears to be thriving and currently serves over 250,000 customers.
As for Gottesman, she says, “I found my joy doing this, it’s just how my mind works.”