I always seem to be in public somewhere with my laptop or netbook, meeting with a client at Panera Bread or Starbucks, or just getting out of the house and doing some work while grabbing lunch a local restaurant (with free WiFi, of course). When my laptop or netbook is open, I’m marketing for Toshiba or HP, but I should be marketing my business instead. It is hard to imagine a travel agent that does not use or carry some type of electronic device at all times, be it a laptop, netbook, cell phone, iPod, or iPad. If you carry them, then make them market for you.
But how? Skin them. “Skins” are personalized covers that you can place on a wide variety of devices. And with SkinIt (www.skinit.com) you can create your own customized skins, uploading your logo and other images, adding text, and editing colors and fonts.
Removable and reusable?
Yes, skins can be removed. SkinIt uses 3M technology to create their skins, guaranteeing they will stick firmly but that no residue will be left behind when removed from a device. However, even though they claim that skins are reusable, when removing skins they often stretch out of shape. This makes reusing them difficult, if not nearly impossible.
To skin a USB flash drive is $9.99. Here’s a thought, if you can get your hands on inexpensive USB drives, skin them and then give them away or use them as drawing prizes. It should be cheaper than buying customized drives that often require a minimum purchase of 50 or 100. However, you will need patience to sit and apply a skin to each individual USB drive. You may not want to do more than a couple.
To skin a 4th generation iPod Nano is $19.99, and to skin an HP netbook was $24.99. A laptop? $34.99. I was lucky when I ordered my laptop and netbook skins, because at that time SkinIt was running a promotion of 20% off.
Ease of creating
The process for creating a customized skin is pretty easy. First, pick the type of device that you want to skin. For example, if skinning a laptop, pick the brand first and then the model and size. Next, click on “create your own” on the left under the design selections area. You can then set your background color, upload images, place them where you want them to appear on the skin, resize and rotate them. Then, add text.
Quality and Limitations
The quality of the skins that I ordered was very good. They are very sturdy, and thick. They do not appear to easily tear (although, admittedly, I did not purposely try to tear mine). I’m not sure if this would really be classified as a limitation, but they are strict about the use of copyrighted material (as in, you can’t). They do sell pre-designed skins with copyrighted material, like Disney characters, but you cannot customize these skins. So if a Disney Specialist had dreams of slapping Mickey Mouse on their laptop along with their agency logo, it won’t happen.
Combine what you can onto a single skin, without overcrowding. I did this with my Toshiba laptop skin, since it was significantly larger (compared to the netbook). It was large enough for my logo, the Kiwi specialist logo, and the CLIA ECC logo. Also, be selective about what logos you use, how many, sizes, etc. Some image files will start to look blurry or distorted if you make them too large. Whenever possible, use high quality images whenever possible. The smaller the image, the more blurred or distorted it will look if enlarged on the skin.
Since my Kick Butt Vacations logo didn’t look “right” with the rest, I ended up skinning my netbook with the Kick Butt Vacations brand by itself.
So now, which brand that I want to promote will determine which device I take with me when grabbing lunch or meeting with clients. The netbook will be going to college campuses a lot more in the future.
Patience is required when applying a skin to your device. Once on, it is difficult to reposition them. If you have OCD tendencies, skins may not be the way to go for you. If having the skin slightly off center or crooked will drive you crazy … or if bubbles will bother you … skinning your devices may not be the best way for you to go.
Overall, skins are a great way to market your business every time you use a laptop, cell phone or other device in public. If using skins leads to just one booking, they will have paid for themselves and be worth the investment.
(Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Brentwood, Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvaations.com) she focuses on travel for young adults under 35. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209).