BoogerBall

Branding The Ball – Going Online

I’ve read various articles in the last few years touting the importance of having a “web presence”.  One online marketing expert suggests that all of your marketing efforts point your customers first to your website.  There they should be able to easily learn all about you and your products in a self-serve fashion.  Educate your customers before they call you and you will be more efficient with your marketing efforts.  In fact, they may not even need to call you.  My experience is that every company uses the web in a different way and I have yet to close a sale without a few phone conversations (and often a face-to-face visit).  God made us to need each other (remember the Love your Neighbor command?) and most people just like to talk to other people.

That being said, a website is an easy way to get the ball rolling when it comes to communicating with people, assuming your target audience is “online”.  Since the product I am trying to market is really nothing more than a story (How to Make a BoogerBall), and my target audience is curious people like you, I really need a dedicated website to make it available to the public.  As a product development consultant, I’ve developed a few websites in my career (printncut.com, daleblanshan.com, samuelschutz.com, jasondionne.com, larishconstruction.com, mattwhit.com, etc.).  Most of my potential customers know they want a website but don’t always know what’s involved to have one, so here’s a bit of info about actually owning a website.

Some background first:  The Internet is nothing more than thousands of computers all over the world all connected to each other in one big network.  A website is nothing more than a small clump of files stored on one of those “web server” computers.  When someone types your website address into their browser, their computer sends out a request into the Internet.  The first stop is a Domain Name Server which has a list of all of the domain names (www.averyswellidea.com is a domain name) and the actual address of the computer where the website files are stored (67.202.70.14 is its IP address).  Then the request gets bounced all around the world until the correct location of your website files is found.  The files requested are then broken up into little chunks and sent back through the network to their computer where the chunks are reassembled and organized for viewing by the browser.  It sounds complex, but the process happens millions of times a day and is actually very efficient.

With that background in mind, there are three points of investment involved in owning a website.  The first is the purchase of a domain name.  This is usually an annual fee situation where you pay to reserve and use the name you want for your website.  There are many companies that sell domain names, Network Solutions being the most well known.  I use a service called NamesDirect.com because I happened to buy my first domain name from them several years ago.  I’ve been pleased with their service so I’m still a loyal customer.  I did a domain name search and found BoogerBall.com was available.  So, I purchased BoogerBall.com, BoogerBall.net and BoogerBall.org.  Buying the 3 most common names assures me that if I pursue using the Internet to market this product, there will not be a competitor that will use the same name to hinder my marketing activities.  I recommend this strategy to all of my customers as the cost is minimal, but having the name secured can be priceless.

The second point of investment in the process of owning a website is web server hosting.  You need to rent some space on one of the thousands of web server computers out there.  This is usually a monthly fee commitment that varies widely depending upon all of the features you need.  Of course, if you plan to have a big, security intensive website, or if you don’t play nice with others, you will probably want your own server.  BoogerBall.com will probably never need its own server.  I rent space from Steadfast Networks which has proven to be an excellent host and has made it so I can host sites for my customers (all of the sites mentioned above are hosted by my company).

The third point of investment for owning a website is in the actual design and maintenance of the site.  This can be a one-time, flat fee or a perpetual monthly expense.  It all depends upon your level of expertise, the complexity of what you need and what you are willing to pay.  I’m not an expert but I have learned that for my customers, creating a blog website powered by WordPress has been the best balance of cost versus capability versus self maintainability.  I can build it and they can maintain it, both with relative ease and aesthetic excellence.  You will notice that most of the sites listed above are powered by WordPress.  That is how the latest version of averyswellidea.com was developed.  So BoogerBall.com will become a WordPress blog site and that is a story for a future post.  -Amos

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Friday, May 21st, 2010 Product Development Comments Off on Branding The Ball – Going Online

Branding the Ball – The Name

The average American consumer is exposed to about 245 pieces of promotional media on any single day. (1) I believe this has resulted in gradually shorter attention spans and an increasing low tolerance for uninteresting advertisements.  For this reason, advertising media that once only touted a product’s features now focuses more on entertaining the viewer.  Beyond traditional advertising, branding has become a popular technique in marketing a product.

What is “branding”?  Branding is more than a catchy name, an easily recognized logo and a cool tag line.  Branding is the entire persona of a product.  Color, sound, smell, other product association, user demographic, market placement, event sponsorship, etc. etc.  It’s the whole package.  It’s the clothes you wear, the accent in your voice, your cologne, the church you attend, the friends you keep, the places you eat, the car you drive and what brand of facial tissue you blow your nose with.  So, if I were interested in marketing my booger ball product, how would I go about “branding the ball”?

The first thing to consider when developing a product into a brand is its name.  Names have always been important for me.  One of my customers had me working on a new machine that was to be their flagship product of the future.  It was going to include all of the key features of the successful products of their past at half the cost.  It was going to trump the competition.  The name they chose was “Model TBD”.  Now, I understand that the design phase is still early in the product development process, but a product this big deserved a name.  I couldn’t stand working on the project.  Nobody wanted to take responsibility for naming it, so I did.  We called the project the Lancer.  It wasn’t the greatest name, but it did inspire some of the true vision of what the product was to become.  It was much better than TBD (to be determined).  Eventually the marketing department named the product something different, but at least it had a “code” name to help inspire us.

Every project/product I work on needs to have a name so I am always coming up with names for products.  A good product name should describe the product.  It should be easy to say and spell (most important today in the internet age where address is everything).  The name also needs to fit the overall theme of your product (e.g. a sophisticated product needs to have a sophisticated sounding name).  When working on a name, I usually search available domain names (website names) that I might use to market the product.  I also search the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to see if the name has been registered as a trademark.  I do an internet search to see what else is out there in cyberspace.  I share the name with some of my friends and family to see what they think of it (in business, this is called a “focus group”).  I also say a prayer because I realize that my creativity comes from God who made me and He inspires me to come up with clever names.  All of these activities put together usually results in a suitable name for my project/product.

As it turns out, my story about how to make a booger ball, naturally leads to its own name.  The term “booger ball” is self descriptive.  A search on the USPTO site reveals only 2 registered trade marks including the words booger and ball and they are both expired.  A domain name search reveals boogerball.com is available.  The last thing that makes sense for this name is to combine the words booger and ball together into one word.  The website name does that naturally, but having a unique word (even if it is a combination of two common words) makes it easier to protect the name.  So from now on, I will call my product the BoogerBall.  Everywhere I need to talk about a ball of boogers, I will use the new word BoogerBall.  This is swell because the two words alone are nouns but together they can be used as an adjective.  A BoogerBall box is a box used to hold a ball fabricated  from rubber cement.  Capitalizing the two B’s hearkens back to my computer programming experience where I designed numerous database solutions for small companies and all of the field names were descriptive but mashed together with caps to make sense of them.

As I said before, branding is much more than just a name.  Now that we have established the name, we can focus on the many remaining facets of branding.  More to come…  -Amos

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 Product Development Comments Off on Branding the Ball – The Name

How to make a Booger Ball

Here it is, the original story.  I’ve only modified it slightly since it was first written, adding the update note from my daughter.  I am keeping the old page intact here as it is fun to watch the counter.  This is the “product” I was talking about in the post about Product Development.

When my daughter Ellen was four I started teasing her that I was saving all of my boogers in a big booger ball. I don’t know why I told her that except that it was fun to watch her make that “grossed-out” face that kids make when they smell something bad or see a squished cat on the road. She always begged to see it so finally I told her that she couldn’t see it now but I would give it to her for her eighteenth birthday. Well, guess what – she’s turning eighteen and I’ve got to come through with a booger ball!
Here’s the basic steps to successful Booger Ball manufacturing:
1. You’ll need rubber cement. I used four 4oz bottles from a local office store to make a ball 2” in diameter (it cost around $6-7 total for the four bottles).
2. Colored markers are used to add color to the boogers. Rubber cement dries in a nice neutral mucus color which is great. Boogers, however, are not all the same color. If you’re sick, they might be bright green or if you’re working hard in a dirty building they might be nearly black – remember that your nose is your body’s air filter protecting your lungs from the junk in the air.
BoogerBallStuff-Blog
BoogerBallBrush-Blog If you pick too hard or if the air is especially dry, you might find a bit of blood in your boogers. The colored markers in an assortment of colors helps to simulate the array of boogers you might accumulate over 14 years if you were really saving them.
3. A plastic tray, a plastic counter-top or a lid to a plastic tub to spread the cement on is needed also. I used two plastic lids from some storage tubs I had LEGO in. The cement comes off fairly easily but you might want to use something you are not especially attached to just in case there are some unforeseen problems in the project.

4. Rubber cement doesn’t come out of porous surfaces so be careful not to get any on the carpet like I did. Take your time and work in an area suited for craft projects. Rubber cement is also a bit smelly and rather flammable – read the bottle and heed the warnings there.
5. Spread the cement on the plastic surface in a uniform layer that’s not too thick. I was tempted to goop it on but when I did the boogers did not turn out as well as they took much longer to dry.
BoogerBallBrushDetail-Blog
BoogerBallPalate-Blog 6. Allow some time to let the rubber cement to dry. I used two plastic lids so while one was drying I worked on the other. This proved especially efficient.
7. Choose your color palate from the colored markers. Think of all the boogers that you have picked over the years and remember the colors. Purple and pink may not be useful (unless you’ve snorted dry Kool-Aid – ouch!) but the shades of green and brown with the addition of red and black or gray will work great.
BoogerBallLines-Blog BoogerBallLinesMore-Blog
8. Using the colored markers, apply thin stripes of color. I tended to use only one or two colors at a time. You will be making MANY batches of boogers so don’t worry about trying to add too much color in each batch. The rubber cement is a good natural mucus color that only needs an occasional accent from the markers. You may even make several batches without adding color as I did. BoogerBallLinesDone-Blog
BoogerBallRoll-Blog 9. Start in a corner and rub the dried rubber cement with your fingers making a rolled booger. Continue rolling until the booger roll is the desired thickness. Tear the booger from the plastic surface. You may end up with a long string that can be torn into smaller pieces. Roll some of the cement into little balls. Lump pieces together into interesting shapes.

BoogerBallRollMore-Blog

10. MAKE BOOGERS – you’re a pro already!

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11. Pile all of the completed boogers into one corner of your plastic surface or save them on a paper plate for later. You may choose to be truly artistic and make a booger painting. If so, I would separate the colors of boogers keeping all of the red ones in one pile with the greens and browns in other piles. BoogerBallBoogers-Blog
BoogerBallStartSmall-Blog 12. Start making your booger ball. These boogers stick together rather nicely without any added glue. Clump a bunch together to start the ball and continue to roll the ball in the pile until all of the boogers are stuck to it.

13. REPEAT.

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BoogerBallRough1-Blog 14. If you’re anxious to have a big ball without the time investment to really make a “real” one, you can start with a superball or other rubber ball. I haven’t tried this but I imagine if you coat the ball with rubber cement and let it dry, the new boogers should stick nicely and you’ll have a big fat ball of boogers in no time.
BoogerBallRough2-Blog BoogerBall-Blog
BoogerBallBox-Blog 15. You might find a cool box to put your booger ball in like I did at a craft store. If you get your ball big enough, you can use those display products designed for baseballs – that would be WAY cool.
16. Be careful – this booger ball is NOT edible!
There are some things to consider before you begin to make your booger ball:
• Why in the world would anyone want to make a booger ball?
• You may not score points with your significant other for taking on this craft project – no matter how creative your final creation ends up.
• Kids LOVE boogers and the idea of anyone really having a booger ball fascinates them. Keep your ball a secret, saving it only for special occasions. Your grandkids/nieces/nephews will think you’re the coolest grandpa/grandma/aunt/uncle ever.
• Life is too short not to make our own booger ball!
• This is a messy project using harmful chemical glue products – don’t let kids get hurt. The markers will stain your fingers for a time (even though they claim to be washable).
• Your fingers may become sore and a bit raw after a few hours of booger manufacturing.
• Please don’t eat your boogers.

So there it is; how to make a booger ball. If you enjoy this tutorial you might consider hiring me to develop one of your wacky ideas. Check out our site to see what else we do and how we can help you in the future. God gave us way too much creativity, but we’re willing to share! Send us a photo of your booger ball creation and we might add it to the Booger Ball Hall of Phlegm.


Update: Ellen loved her booger ball. Here’s the note she sent me:

BoogerBallResponse-BlogThanks for stopping by! -Amos

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Saturday, January 16th, 2010 Product Development, Swell Ideas 1 Comment