April 1, 2009

Banjo Brothers Twitter Fiction

Banjo Brothers, a Minneapolis based bag company, and strong supporters of the Minneapolis cycling community sent over this press release regarding a new Twitter based marketing event that they are launching tomorrow.

The current state of marketing is evolving so quickly these days, it's a terribly exciting time if you care about such things.
This is the first I've heard of this kind of usage of Twitter, but I'm sure it won't be the last.
If you're a Twitterer, I suggest you check it out.

Banjo's Press Release below

Minneapolis, MN – April 1, - Seeking to combine social networking with art, branding and customer acquisition, cycling gear maker Banjo Brothers plans to release a piece of cycling-themed micro-fiction, by Minneapolis writer Ian Pratt through its Twitter feed on April 2, 2009.

The fictional story, which takes place in Minneapolis, will be released in 16 installments of 140 characters each, starting at 8 a.m. and concluding at 4:00p.m., via Twitter. Twitter is a rapidly growing social networking tool which allows members to send messages of 140 characters or less to other members who “follow” their updates.

“The marriage of cycling and art is a natural. The cycling community as a whole has a long history of being passionate about music and artistic expression. Recently, cycling-centric, events like Artcrank, which showcases bicycle-inspired original artwork and the Bicycle Film Festival, which now has spread from the United States to nine countries, continue to grow in popularity,” says company co-founder Mike Vanderscheuren. “We think the micro-fiction project will be intriguing to our cycling demographic and in the process of enjoying the story, we suspect these same customers will become more familiar with our products,”

As a company, Banjo Brothers was an early adopter of social media and used corporate blogging and advertising via blogs to connect with customers. As a start-up with limited funds for more conventional marketing, the Banjo Brothers used these low cost-tools to provide a means to reach a wide, but an extremely targeted audience. Through mostly grassroots efforts, the Banjo Brothers have grown from seven Minnesota independent bike dealers to over 450 dealers nationally in the past four years.

“Having a high level of customer contact is in our DNA,” says Eric Leugers, the other co-founder and chief product designer. “We’ve always positioned ourselves as an operation where you could pick up the phone and talk to one of us if you had a question or a problem, so using tools like Twitter and Facebook have come pretty natural to us. From a product design standpoint these tools are fabulous because we can see, read about and participate directly with our core audience of users.”

The idea for the Twitter-based initiative was Vanderscheuren’s, who to date, has been the company’s primary Twitter voice. He says the idea to release micro-fiction came from simple brainstorming about how to use the medium effectively in a fun and creative way.

“In a lot of ways, I consider this to be modeled after old-fashioned “branded entertainment” like television in the 1950s, says Vanderscheuren. “We hired a trained writer to craft the story and there are no product tie-ins or anything like that. This isn’t some heavy-handed marketing pitch even though we have some metrics we will use to gauge how successful this will be. Most importantly, we want it to be fun and entertaining and in turn we think that will be good for the brand.” According to Vanderscheuren there will be a special offer released with the story and Banjo brothers has partnered with Minneapolis bike shop and internet retailer Calhoun Cycle (www.calhouncycle.com) to process the special deal.

To read the story you can subscribe to or follow the Banjo Brothers’ Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/banjobrothers.

About the Banjo Brothers
Banjo Brothers International, LLC is a designer and wholesaler of well-made, affordable cycling gear for bike commuters and recreational cyclists. For further information, please visit www.banjobrothers.com or e-mail us at: mvander@banjobrothers.com.

About Ian Pratt
Ian Pratt is a product of Minneapolis. He left briefly to study creative writing at the University of Puget Sound in WA, but came back to ride on his bike and write things and curse the lousy post-grad job market. He owns and operates a blog at www.knowledge-dropped.com.

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