Line for laser engraver

Earlier this month I spent time in Boulder, Colorado for the 3rd Annual Big Boulder Conference.  It is a two-day event that is filled with some of the top minds looking at how to leverage social data for numerous problems from commercial to academic.  But to my surprise the hit of the conference wasn't the content it was something else. The company formerly known as GNIP, now Twitter, puts on the event.  They have always done a great job at all parts of the event.  A big shout out to Bre Zigich and team for all of the work that goes into making this great.

One great part of the event is the schwag.  One year it was Nalgene bottles, last year it was a backpack and this year it was a great looking Sigg Bottle.  They never skimp on the quality of the swag but this year something very interesting happened.  They had a laser engraver on site for two days.  The first day I don’t think a ton of people thought about it.  I had mine done with my Twitter handle on the first day.  As people started showing their bottles off word-of-mouth spread about how cool this was.  The second day there was a constant line to engrave water bottles.

By the second day something else happened.  People were engraving other things.  First I saw a few iPhones engraved, the iPads and then Macbooks.  The engraving also moved from simple text to images and logos.  Grumpy cat was very popular for some reason – ask Zach about his choice.

Hey @Lindholm - your water bottle just got a lot awesomer.

— Zach N. Hofer-Shall (@znh) June 6, 2014

Hey @stillings we are laser engraving our laptops with grumpy cat. Is this chill? Let me know?

— Lauren Schutte (@laurenschutte) June 6, 2014

I loved the idea so I had my laptop engraved.  Since my work and passion are one in the same for Tellagence, that only made sense.


Of all the great content on stage the star of the show was the laser engraver, although I know the guy running the machine was glad to go home.  If the marketing schwag had been left at a great Sigg water bottle most people would have thrown it in their bags and moved on.  The engraving made it personal.  It was about mass customization, which drew people in.  The extension, which was probably never planned, was people engraving their laptops and phones.  These are devices we spend most of our days on.  When people asked where you got that the answer will be Big Boulder.

As a brand, how are you thinking about moving from mass marketing to mass personalization?  Not just in schwag but in your brand messaging and social interactions.  Consumers don’t want a generic message received in a generic way.  They want something that was made for them delivered by people they trust.  In a world where brands have to do more and more to stand out, think less about being louder than the next marketer and being more personal with your customers.