How Two Guys and a Cement Mixer Changed How Bloggers Think

Filed as Features on October 12, 2008 3:45 am

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On , I just published “The Real Benefits of Sponsoring a WordCamp” which highlighted one of the most talked about exhibitors at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas a few weeks ago: Bruce Christensen and Tom Vail of Cart-Away Concrete.

While most of the exhibitors at Blog World Expo were there to promote their products and services to the mass of bloggers in attendance, Tom and Bruce were there for a different reason. They were there to learn.

So many events and conferences bring together a lot of people with a marketing agenda. They want to sell products and services and make money. Tom and Bruce of Cart-Away Concrete showed up at this blogging conference with their portable cement mixer and said, “We don’t have anything for you to buy. We came here to learn.”

That’s right. They just came to learn from everyone who walked through the Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibition Hall over the course of the three day event. They aren’t bloggers, they aren’t web hosts, they aren’t marketers, or guys with cool blog gadgets. They are construction experts in equipment and concrete. How many bloggers have a huge commercial construction project underway and would need them? Hmmm?

No, they were there to learn. They could hire someone to teach them what to do and set up their blogs and social media services to promote their franchise and contractor business, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to learn from everyone in this new online social media business.

And they did.

They also taught a lot to the bloggers attending Blog World Expo.

Dr. Forgot honored Cart-Away Concrete with the The Most Unusual Booth Presentation Award:

They had an actual portable concrete mixer on their booth – you know, the kind that you see affixed to the back of a truck. The mixer contains cement and rotates on the back of the truck as it drives down the highway toward its destination. Well, the clever people who own Cart-Away figured out a way to remove that big mixer from the back of the truck and make it portable.

…They are looking to market and franchise their product. So why come to a Blog World Expo to show off their refined cement and other material mixer? For the same reason bloggers and other companies attended – to get the word out about their product. Tom Vail who was dressed as and claimed to be a test dummy, and his assistant who was dressed as and claimed to be a lab rat had a full house (no silly, not the type that beats a royal flush) at their booth for the entire time. They had no competition for their product type. Very clever. A way to think outside the cement truck.

David Peralty of Extra For Every Publisher thought this was a great gimmick that other businesses should bring to blog conferences:

Over in the corner of the exhibits there was a concrete mixer, and two guys with very bold green shirts. They were there promoting their business outside of its normal niche, and in doing so, became one of the highlights of the event for me. It made me wonder if other businesses will begin to catch on that Blog World Expo could be an amazing opportunity for businesses that don’t normally interact with bloggers to find a whole new group of potential customers and if nothing else, be noticed by a crowd that is well connected online.

100k Job From Home points to Cart-Away Concrete as an example of how the economy may be in recession, but blogging is still big business, siting the recent sale of Bankoholic for USD $15 million:

All I can say is that: WOW, while the economy is in a recession, a blog bubble is here now.

When a medical doctor stopped practicing and turned into a professional blogger (MacRumors.com), when someone can build a $30k plus monthly income from blogging within 2 years (JohnChow.com), when a company that sells concrete trailers (Cart Away Concrete) set up a booth in the Blog World Expo, do I need more approve for my point – a blog bubble is here now.

Becky McCray of Small Business Survival did a video interview about Cart-Away at Blog World Expo, explaining:

Cart-Away showed up at Blog World Expo with a concrete mixer. Were they just in the wrong place, or what? No, they were there to learn, to learn social media, blogging, and related skills.

Standard advertising just didn’t work for them, so they’ve given that up, in favor of exploring the world of online community.

Ben Spark also interviewed Cart-Away and actually read through their material later trying to figure out how he could help them and do business with them:

I thought to myself, “Why?” “Why is there a concrete mixer on the floor of Blog World Expo?” Well, I didn’t have to ponder too long because I walked over and talked to Bruce from Cart-Away Supply about what they were doing at Blog World Expo. Cart-Away has advertised with traditional media for years and wanted to experiment by coming to blog world expo and to see how far they could reach. Well, a concrete mixer on the floor of a blogging convention sure gets noticed.

Stars and Muses also declared Cart-Away as one of the highlights of their Blog World experience:

I need to interject a section on one of my favorite groups at the convention. The people at Cart-Away Supply win huge points from me today…I love the guts they have to show up at a blogging convention to generate buzz about a company that doesn’t have really anything to do with blogging. They’ve started a blog to keep people posted on the results of this little experiment. I recommend checking it out. And hell, if you have a minute, take a second to talk about the guys at Cart-Away.

John Hawkins of John Hawkins Unrated was stunned to find a cement mixer at Blog World Expo. For him, it was a “forward thinking” moment. He was also stunned at how many people didn’t get it as to why Cart-Away Concrete was at Blog World Expo, and admitted that even he first thought they were in making a mistake and in the wrong convention.

They actually MEANT to show up at a blogging convention. Their idea was to bring a cement mixer in to the middle of a blogging convention where they would stick out like a sore thumb. Then, when everybody came up to ask the burning question, they’d tell their story. Why go to a construction convention when they would be one of a few hundred companies offering similar products. Instead, they came to a place they wouldn’t fit in but would give them access to hundreds of walking/talking media outlets.

I can guarantee that there is no chance they would have received the level of attention they received had they been at a construction convention. And, they certainly wouldn’t have been written about by a few dozen bloggers when it was all said and done.

I can only imagine how the conversation went with their boss the first time they said they wanted to spend money to exhibit at a blogging convention.

I’m happy to blog about them and support their effort. No affiliate links. No paid posts. Just a guy who has to tip his hat at a couple forward thinkers. I wish you guys the best!

As I was walking away from their booth I overheard a guy saying to his friend, “I just don’t get why those guys are here.” You are right, you don’t get it. and you probably never will.

Did John know that the bosses were the “dummies” at the conference? These two guys run a national franchise business and they are watching the economy change and knew that had to do something desperate. The bloggers were talking to the bosses, not their representatives. These guys are all about hands-on.

Marty Fahncke was also serious impressed by Cart-Away Concrete and their approach. Asking why a cement company wouldn’t be attending traditional conferences and tradeshows, the logical choice, why would they attend a conference for “bloggers, podcasters, and new media experts. In other words, the biggest collection of laptop-toting geeks I’ve seen since I used to attend MacWorld years ago.”

So I was intrigued when I walked past a booth featuring a huge concrete mixer, and the word WHY? in large letters on their backdrop.

…So Cart-Away’s Bruce Christensen came up with an idea; Instead of marketing to the same people all of their competitors are marketing to, in the same places, with the same message…why not come to a blogging conference and ask all of the influential bloggers there to help tell their story.

BRILLIANT!

Because they are the only construction related vendor at this tech/blogging related event, they really stand out. They have a great story to tell about why they are doing what they are doing. And they are very upfront about the fact they need help, and can’t do everything on their own.

Even John Chow wondered why there was a cement mixer at Blog World Expo:

One of the strangest booth at the 2008 Blog World Expo was the one from a company call Cart Away Concrete. Yes, they sell concrete trailers. Now, you might be wondering why a company that sells concrete trailers would be at Blog World. I got the feeling Cart Away may not know themselves because their booth had a big sign that asked, Why?

It turns out that Cart Away is trying their hands at getting some viral marketing by exhibiting at Blog World in the hopes that Blog World bloggers will blog about them. Well, it worked!

This is a prime example of how to make a lot of noise. Break the rules. Why go to a trade show in your industry? Why not sponsor and/or exhibit your wares at a conference or convention totally out of character where you can stand out and do your own social media experiment.

In fact, if you have a totally unrelated blog business, why not start with blog conferences. The social media and business experiment Cart-Away Concrete and Supply created was a huge success for visibility, free advice from experts in social media, and an education for the attendees.

They now have a blog: Cart-Away Supply®. It offers a variety of tips, tricks, and advise as well as information and feedback from their Blog World Expo experiment.

My head is just swimming with new knowledge and new respect for an amazing community about which I was barely aware. We have been welcomed by a group who has nothing to gain from helping us. We have been offered help and advice from all quarters.

…Bruce flew back (since he drove the unit down all 1100 miles). Today he has sent out notes to many people. The gist of his message and mine is, “Thank you.”

Thanks for starting to inform us about the world of blogging and the universe of social and new media.

Thanks for showing us a glimpse of the amazing power and potential of these new (to us) means of communication.

Thanks for tutoring us and give us great tips on what to do to maximize the effectiveness of our blogs and websites.

Thanks for being such a friendly and open community. To a person, the folks we met were helpful, interested and interesting.

To track their Blog World Experience, see:

I challenge you to think about what Bruce and Tom did with their cement mixer. They thought totally outside of the box. If a couple of hard hat wearing, construction-type business owners can think that far out of the box, what’s your excuse?

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  1. By Rarst posted on October 14, 2008 at 2:05 pm
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    I feel like those two are bloggers already. Only they managed to push their story without actually having a blog. Blogging is telling stories, isn’t it? :)

    Reply

  2. By Harpenden posted on December 13, 2008 at 7:11 pm
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    They are an excellent company they have marketed so well! Great post!

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  3. By portable cement mixer posted on January 8, 2009 at 8:45 pm
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    This is awesome! I wish I had the smarts to think about doing the same thing. Checking these guys out now..maybe I can get in touch with them.

    Reply

  4. By Steve @ St Albans Builders posted on January 9, 2009 at 2:57 am
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    Wow those guys have got the right idea! They have created a buzz about their biz.

    I think allot of their success you can attribute to the fact their customer service is outstanding. They have 84% customer retention.

    I see they are offering franchise opportunities too. Expect to see more of their trucks around.

    Heck I may even look into it myself.

    Reply

  5. By Sheffield Concrete Pumping posted on January 20, 2009 at 7:14 am
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    Great marketing guys, well done

    Reply

  6. By Promotional Products posted on April 27, 2009 at 9:02 am
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    That is a great way to promote your product and learn something new while your doing it. I bet they made a lot of friends and there strategy worked because now you are promoting their product.

    Reply

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