Mouse Trap Marketing

This is a cute little story about the power of smart marketing.

In my high school a requirement for graduation is to take at least one Physics course. That was regardless of whether you were going for an Honors Diploma or not; so everybody in the class had to take Physics at some point. The famous project of Fall semester in Physics was the classic Mouse Trap Race Car. That’s where you make a tiny car that is powered solely by the energy you can harness from a mouse trap, and then you race your car against other people’s cars. Instead of speed, we were judged on distance traveled. The race always took place the week before Winter Break and the winner(s) would get an insane amount of extra credit.

About 2 miles from the high school there is a Dunn Hardware store. And one day a guy who works there started noticing that around December time there always seemed to be an influx of students coming in to buy hardware supplies, most notably plywood, string, washers, and of course, mouse traps.

Eventually he figured out that all these students were buying supplies for their Physics project…

So then he got smart.

The next year around December time Dunn Hardware started selling already made, ready to go Mouse Trap Race Cars.

Can you guess what happened?

The guy who found out about this annual Mouse Trap Race Car project got permission to start making Mouse Trap Race Cars to sell in the store. And then, just in case your teacher was smart enough to realize that the store down the street sold already made Mouse Trap Race Cars so made you assemble your race car in front of them, there were also prepackaged race cars that weren’t assembled but had all the parts you needed to make it and came with assembly instructions.

Why that guy doesn’t work in marketing is beyond me.


Housekeeping Note: The answer to last week’s question from DON’T PANIC is Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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