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There’s a time and a place for the fun marketing stunt or goofy ploy for attention. But sometimes it’s better to focus on substance over gimmick marketing to earn more sustainable, thoughtful word of mouth.

Here are three ways to do it:

1. With your packaging
2. With your space
3. With your content

1. With your packaging

Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and a Vanity Fair editor all have one thing in common: Their writing is now featured on the side of Chipotle cups and bags. Why? Because instead of selling that marketing space to beverage brands, Chipotle wanted to share thought-provoking work. These “Two-Minute” pieces are all designed to turn something people usually ignore into something people talk about.

2. With your space

At every Kit + Ace store, a clothing retail shop owned by Lululemon, there’s an eight-foot table and a deck of cards with conversation-starters on them. That’s because every month Kit + Ace’s store managers are required to host dinner parties with their communities. These dinner parties help Kit + Ace get feedback and inspiration from creative people in the area. But more importantly, they help a big retailer make meaningful, personal connections on a micro level.

3. With your content

FitSpoon is a data-driven spoon that opens holes in your cutlery to slow you down when you’re eating too fast. BeatTweeter is a ring that detects your heartbeat so that when it stops beating, it can tweet out your #finalfarewell. And iBlinds are internet-connected blinds that use real-time data to tell you how bright it is outside. If these devices sound ridiculous, it’s because they’re fake. They’re a part of creative tech company RehabStudio’s “Internet of Useless Things” collection, and they make people think about the reasons companies miss the mark with connected devices. Isn’t that a much more memorable and funnier way to start a conversation about a creative tech company?

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