Marketing hacks that worked. Pic by Steven Depolo

Marketing Hacks that Worked a Treat

Disclosure: Just so you know, we may sometimes earn a small commission from affiliate links on this site.

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.

Free email marketing setup guide. Pic by Wayne Stadler

Modern email marketing campaigns, especially from small businesses, need to be able to grow a killer mailing list and deliver awesome emails to the right aud

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

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.

top digital marketing questions

Online marketing is about much more than introducing carefully selected keywords and phrases into content to optimize for organic search; or build up backlin

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.

3 common affiliate marketing mistakes

Starting an affiliate program to market your business online is a great way to get real growth - but it comes with dangers that you must manage pro-actively from the start.

By definition, affiliate marketing hands a degree of control over to the publishers who market on your behalf.

Because these publishers are incentivized with sales commissions, they may end up using advertising and promotional strategies that your own company might not be comfortable with.

Digital Marketing Tools. Pic by Dennis Skley

With a list of the right marketing tools, it's possible to be your own best small business marketer and SEO - without having to hire an expensive digital mar

The Best Digital Marketing Strategy, 2017. Pic by Matt Gibson

Competition in the world of online marketing is fierce - I mean really fierce - making it vital to choose the best possible marketing strategy to deliver sus

Sample press release template. Pic by Matthew Guay

The other day I decided to get some coverage in the news - actually, I wanted to get some exposure for a particularly nice bit of research we'd done - and st

Check out this list of ten great hyperlocal marketing strategies, by Carlo Pandian, that can help to drive local consumers to your site.

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.

"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.

Back to Top