My friend Rekha told me about this optical shop up at Harvard Square called Eye Q Optical. They recognize that choosing the right frames can be a difficult job. They do a smart thing. They take a Polaroid snapshot of you with the glasses on so that you can show it to your friends and see what they think. Word of mouth by design.
I've always loved the Polaroid experience and how instant printing changes the entire routine and protocols of picture taking. It's a great marketing tool, too, whose novelty is based on its obsolescence. Polaroids have been used in bar promos forever, the company's site even has a Diageo case study about it. The company also sells branded instant film, in case you are interested.
There's also this Polaroid iZone camera that prints stamp-sized pictures that can be used as stickers. The iZone camera itself has been a show piece of viral marketing and is featured in a couple of books: The Art of Innovation by IDEO's Tom Kelley and The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rozen.
This Brazilian promo has been making rounds for the past month or so: Polaroids were placed in bathrooms instead of mirrors to reinforce the company's "instant images" positioning. Not unlike this photobooth that shoots scalps and dandruff.
Speaking of the word of mouth, I've just finished reading Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk about Your Stuff that the author, Mark Hughes, had kindly sent to me. He was the one who had masterminded the renaming of Halfway, Oregon into Half.com, so besides all the good advice it contains, you are treated to a behind-the-scenes story. The book has received glowing reviews all around and was named one of the best biz books by Financial Times back in 2005 when it came out. Many popular business books today are more like over-extended magazine articles. Buzzmarketing isn't one of them: for your $15 and a few hours invested into reading it, you'll get lots of stories from across many different industries and a lot of conclusions to draw.
Finally, if the Nor'easter (?) subsides, I'll be in New Orleans for the next couple of days for a WOMMA event. Looks like it's going to be fun. Say hi if you are there.