December 28th, 2004


What I was talking about a few posts back ...

So ... you wanna know what takes up my time when I'm not shopping for Pokemon cards on eBay, schlepping my daughters around town, or dealing with my Mom's place? Well, I'm the "promotions" half of the partnership with The Wife on our ClubZ! franchise (or, as I usually put it, I'm in charge of making the phone ring, she's in charge of being nice to people when it does).
I was, frankly, a bit surprised that one of these lovely items at the left here wasn't in our mail box this morning. If all went as planned, some 5,300 of these should have been mailed out from Tampa on 12/22 ... of course, with the ho-ho-ho crap in the middle of that (and having them going presort and/or bulk), I guess there's reasons why it's not here yet (but I'd be very surprised if we're not on the "parents" list we bought).
This is a cool promo piece that's based on one that I'd gotten in the mail from a pizza place a few years back. It's a standard 3.5x5" postcard, but with the top two inches being magnet-backed, in this case a handy 2005 calendar to stick on the fridge. We've been having to "reinvent the wheel" to some extent due to the "urban" nature of our territory, since a lot of the stuff that works in the boonies is either impossible here (yard signs), or laughable (our grocery stores don't let you put up tear-off flyers, etc., for example). Plus, since our market is narrowed in on families with kids in a certain set of zip codes, most of the things we initially looked at involved something like 90% "spill" ... which eventually led us to doing a direct mail piece, which made me remeber the pizza promo I'd stuck in my desk, which ended up as this.
Speaking of yard signs ... many franchises say they're one of their best promos. Since where we live there are damn few yards, and those typically have big fences around them, this was out of the question. However, it got me to thinking, and, after doing a bit of research, I figured out that advertising on the Brown Line el train would be pretty much the same thing ... with very low cost-per-impression. Over here on the right is a muchly minaturized version of the ad that's going up mid-January:
These will hit the train cars two weeks before the second term report card pick-up day for the Chicago Public Schools, and remain up for the four weeks following (or longer ... heck, there are signs still up for stuff that happend two years ago). One of the things we learned at that national conference is that the biggest "panic time" over grades is that 2nd term report card, when the parents realize that the 1st term grades were not a fluke and they haven't gotten any better.
I am VERY nervous about this, of course, since we have pretty much everything on the line with this business, and this is our first major "crunch time", and that these two (very expensive) projects had better make the phone ring, along with other stuff that we're doing (like being in the new Yellow Pages ... which provides a remarkable 30-35% of queries system-wide), since from where I'm sitting it looks almost like a "make or break" situation. I've done so many ad/PR/promo campaigns over the years, but none with quite the "Oh, gawd, what if I fail!?" feeling to it. So light up a green candle, cross your fingers, say a prayer, or whatever for us on this!

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Today ...

I had been planning on being over at my Mom's to keep going with the packing (especially since I'm losing two days out of this week), but The Wife had other plans for us. She had to go interview a new tutor this morning down around Roosevelt, so suggested that I grab The Girls and meet her there for us to run over to one of the museums. Obviously, I'm the obstructionist asshole if I challenge this sort of plan, so just went along with it. She was thinking we'd go do a few hours at a museum and then catch the new Jim Carrey movie.
As it turned out, we ended up (at Daughter #1's request) at the Planetarium and bought a family membership (we'd not belonged there previously, but, as is usually the case, the cost of an annual family membership was only a few bucks more than just getting in for the day!). Both of the girls were quite into it, and we ended up being there for a good four hours, including quite a nice lunch in their cafe. Unfortunately, Daughter #2 started on "melt down" when we were in the Gift Shop on our way out ... spending the better part of a half hour not wanting anything that was "doable" and being fascinated with all things inappropriate to the occasion (a museum visit a couple of days after Xmas when, lord knows, her parents were disinclined to purchse any "toys").
So, things went from the gift shop melt-down to the not wanting to put on coat melt-down, to the insisting we find a water fountain melt-down to the "not being happy at the prospect of possibly not going to the movie given her behavior" melt-down on the bus, to the alteratively plaintive and screaming demands that we still go to the movie melt-down on the subway home. Needless to say, a lovely time was had by all (especially when her big sister figured out that we were indeed not going to see the movie, resulting in more tears and general hostility).
How much you want to bet that by this weekend The Wife will be telling me that I'd have had my Mom's place cleared out if "I wasn't in denial about it"? What the fuck does she want me to do ... completely forgo sleep and work over there all night every night? It's the only way that I can even figure having a chance to get that done at this point!

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You won't have BTRIPP to kick around (or generally ignore) anymore ... at least for a couple of days

Yep ... I guess I'm going to be AFK for the next couple of days. As I mentioned previously, The Wife is exiling The Girls and me to the suburbs for two days ... having booked us into a "Holidome" up in Skokie so they can swim. I'm getting the rental car at 2pm, we should be checking in around 3pm on Tuesday, and then checking out by noon on Thrusday. What the hell I'm going to be doing (aside from "enjoying the company of my charming offspring") over that time, I'm not sure. I had toyed with loading up AOL on my laptop and bringing that along, but I guess I'll just go cold-turkey. I do think I'll need to pick out a book to read, as I'm less enthused at the prospect of spending most of the next 48 hours in the pool. The Wife has delusions that we're "near" anything (I checked ... even printed out the maps ... we're not) that would be more interesting than swimming, so I guess we'll just have to "do our time" up there and let her (hopefully) get all this data-entry stuff in QuickBooks caught up so that we can start 2005 rolling (of course, The Wife's computer competence is only slightly above that of our 9-year-old, so I'm sure I'm going to have to try to "fix something" over the phone at least once while we're out!).

So, all you folks on my Friends List, don't go crazy with back-from-the-holidays posting! I don't want to come back to 300+ posts that will back-log me for days.

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