Marketing hacks that worked. Pic by Steven Depolo

Marketing Hacks that Worked a Treat

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Every company in the world is obsessed with marketing and sales - trying desperately to get in front of potential clients, gain visibility, join the conversation, and generally drum up new business in order to grow.

Competition is fierce these days (regardless of size and industry), so it's not that surprising that innovative and creative people are out there trying to find new and interesting ways to market and promote themselves.

But which marketing strategies actually work?

I posed this question to a bunch of different companies and what I found was quite interesting. It's not necessarily the 'type' of marketing strategy you use (you don't have to come up with something completely new in order to succeed), it comes down to 'how you do it'.

Take a look at what strategies these companies used and how their efforts paid off...

No half measures (Computer repair doctor)

Computer repair doctor
Matt Ham, the owner of Computer Repair Doctor bought an ambulance and wrapped it (see the above image). Here's what he said about it:

"Honestly, I think vehicle wraps don't work in general. They are overused and people simply don't notice them. They blend into the background these days because they are so common.

However, our ambulance has done wonders for us because it's unique. It's big, it's clearly an ambulance, and it's funny. This tactic worked because we went all out and committed to the idea.

We'll routinely leave the vehicle in busy shopping centers for a day or two at a time or park it in places that have high visibility. We got so creative with our parking spots that we eventually got a call from the FL DOT basically telling us we had to take it down a notch.

Our customers have to fill out how they heard about us when they drop-off a device, and to-date we've had over 600 customers say they heard about us because of our ambulance.

At $50-200 profit per job, that's a lot of money."

So advertising on your vehicle is not all that new, right? But look at what a great job they did at it. Instead of being conservative they took the leap and went all in. In fact, I would probably use their service just to have my PC repair tech rock up dressed as a medical intern.

What's nice about Matt's story is that they have also done proper research and analysis of this particular campaign so that they know for sure (from their customer feedback forms) that the ambulance is working as a lead generator and new business driver (no pun intended).

Be controversial (Rebel hack)

Rebel hack
Carly Klineberg from Rebel hack related a story about a blog post that ultimately ended up generating a huge amount of interest precisely because it was controversial. Here's what happened:

"We wrote a really controversially titled post, 'The Death of the Digital Marketing Agency', and published it on our new blog to try and start a conversation around the future of digital marketing agencies.

As a result of the article circulating online, we got it shared on Inbound as a link from Dharmesh Sha - one of the most successful digital marketers in the world and CTO at Hubspot.

A popular user of Inbound took our title and article (cleverly crafting a reply to it) and posted his reply on the site - linking to our article, and letting readers know he'd done so by posting the link in the comments.

Due to the attention grabbing headline he used (hacked from us) and his strongly opinionated reply - the post became popular and a discussion began forming in the comments, which we also became involved in (amicably of course).

The two links to our article ensured our new site got viewed over 6,000 times in just a few days, and we received several e-mail enquiries from potential clients.

The moral of this story is - if you've written a great and catchy blog post that's also controversial - get it shared. Ask for quotes from big players in your industry, tweet it to people you think will be really interested or have an opinion, post it on sites like Inbound. Don't be afraid of creating some strong replies, it's all part of the conversation. "

So, once again, creating content that stimulates debate is not something new. But getting it picked up and shared on bigger platforms is. Increase your chances of this happening by targeting topics that are of direct interest to the bigger players.

Be warned though, being controversial is like walking a tight rope with no safety net. Ensure that your opinions are at least defensible so that you can join the debate with intelligent and rational points.

Startup Santa (Baron Fig)

Startup Santa by Baron Fig
James Mazza from Baron Fig was telling me that they were looking for a way to get one their products into the hands of their target audience - local and international startup companies. Their answer is priceless:

"Send your head of BD dressed as Santa to deliver free gifts... in August."

He elaborates:

We entered with one simple question. How do we get our core product, the Confidant, into Startups all over the world?

The solution was Startup Santa.

We received 400+ submissions to this form and visited 20+ local startups in the NYC area. We attempted to get to every single startup, however the response was so overwhelming that it just wasn't possible.

Instead we mailed out packages of wrapped gifts to startups that we couldn't visit in person. We learned a lot of important lessons and we solved our problem. We got the Confidant into businesses everywhere."

What I like about this story is that it is ultimately a human relationship based strategy. They physically went to their potential clients' locations and handed out gifts - complete with Santa and elves. This type of thing makes an impression. It's fun. It's unique. And, you end up capturing a lot of attention and time from potential clients.

You're the best (RT500 Enterprise)

RT500 Enterprise
RT500 Enterprise was stuck with a small marketing budget and the problem of making a data based subscription service 'sexy'. Here's what they came up with:

"We couldn't spend a lot of cash. We had to use what was available to us, which was basically the unique data our service provides. Plus, trying to convince potential clients of the unique benefits of using RTE through advertising was simply having no effect.

We stopping trying to convince, and decided to actually demonstrate. We picked a bunch of leading marketing influencers who had published books and started tracking them with our service.

It turned out that Guy Kawasaki's book was dominating sales. But seriously dominating. We figured he would love to hear about this so we wrote a quick article, complete with sales graphs showing how his book was beating everyone else's.

Guy was so pleased he sent out a tweet to his more than 1.5 million followers saying "This made my day" with a link to our article. This not only drove a lot of traffic to us, but also seemed to improve the trust factor in the long term - leading to generally higher conversion rates on a sustained basis"

So, hopefully you've been able to see that not every hack has to be completely new in order to work. But, everything that works seems to have something unique/new/unusual about it. There's definitely a bit of 'secret sauce' in each one of these hacks. The trick is finding your own.

What unusual marketing techniques have you tried? Have you met with success or failure? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

7 ways to network effectively

When I started my first company some years ago I placed all my focus on creating a great offering, but almost no effort went into sales and networking. Needless to say that it took an incredibly long time to get off the ground - 6 years in fact.

During that time I learned a lot about how business works, and my focus has shifted almost completely onto sales, marketing and networking.

Nowadays, a good idea with a quality product backed by excellent service is the bare minimum required to succeed. Because there is so much competition (especially online), what sets companies apart these days is how effectively they can network and promote themselves.

Here's the thing about moving traditional customers online; you have to find innovative marketing strategies and ideas to get them to migrate.

How to work with social media effectively

Social media marketing is one of those things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners wonder if they really need.

In general, my answer is yes, but I need to qualify that by saying that the amount of time, effort and cash you invest must be proportional to the returns you want (and can realistically achieve).

I serve on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit, registered charity, and we have utilized the tools and technologies provided by the Web, and in particular, social media, to drive visibility, engagement, and awareness that would simply be out of reach otherwise.

increase revenue from AdWords campaigns

With the majority of all Internet traffic passing through organic search, it is only natural to want to advertise on Google using

Creating viral social media content

For many bloggers, webmasters and entrepreneurs there's nothing quite as exciting as seeing an article or brand mention taking on a life of its own and gener

How to increase site traffic an conversions. Pic by Tony Alter

Everyone knows that in order to make more money online you either have to increase the volumes of website traffic, or increase conversion rates (or both

Drive traffic without SEO

I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.

Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.

Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.

Customer service is a great marketing opportunity

Any company that outsources their customer service is being silly, and are inviting competitors to swoop in and pilfer their client base.

Customer service is one of the few real opportunities you have to forge a solid relationship with people. Why on earth would you want to hand it over to someone else (who hides you from the people that sustain your business)?

And while handling customer complaints and queries can seem like a chore, it can be converted into one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to you.

Marketing explained with cows. Pic by Chris Marchant

It can be a challenge, especially if you're new to the game, understanding what marketing jargon means.

Email marketing intro

Email marketing is a popular and effective online strategy for small businesses (as well as large corporates).

"Are you looking for some great content marketing strategies that will help to generate plenty of buzz around your blog posts and articles?"

Content marketing is not only important for getting your content read by other people.

One of its primary purposes is to help establish authority so that your content enjoys high page rankings and gets plenty of organic search traffic from Google.

Tips on how to do B2B networking

Having a great product or service is simply not enough to enjoy strong sales (especially online), which is why it is crucial to build strong relationships with other organizations.

But recognizing that your enterprise can succeed or fail depending on the quality and quantity of the business relationships around you is one thing - finding and nurturing those partnerships is another thing entirely.

This article highlights three techniques that have proven themselves to be invaluable when it comes to ensuring that your company is constantly growing a powerful network of allies.

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