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.

How to breakthrough with marketing

Businesses can take off overnight. Social networks, global media, the Internet, marketing and word-of-mouth that spans the globe can drive your message to millions of people instantly. But it rarely "just happens".

If you've been marketing your startup, product or business online then you'll have seen product launches that seemed to come out of nowhere to become the hottest thing around, or videos and content that have gone viral driving millions of potential customers through to the originators - the "Charlie bit my finger" YouTube video sensation netted that family several hundred thousand dollars in revenue:

While some people luck out and ride a wave of viral/social popularity, basing your livelihood on success through blind luck is not a particularly fruitful strategy. Most people have to work hard for quite some time before they achieve a breakthrough marketing success. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to give yourself every chance of success.

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.

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

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Online marketing 101. Pic by See-ming Lee

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Influencer marketing leverages relationships gain trust and reach

Imagine you could hire a Jedi to sell your products and reach out to new people using their famous mindtricks. Seems almost unfair, right?

I recently did a one hour consultation with Stephen Conroy, the owner of cong IT in New York.

Stephen had requested a meeting to give him a feel for what he should be doing in order to promote his new business.

We chatted on Skype and at the end of the hour had covered quite a lot of ground. Poor Stephen had his ear bent by me for most of that time.

But it occurred to me that seeing a real-life consultation that deals not only with good practice (predominantly Internet based, in this case), but also shows the other side of the coin - interaction and thoughts from the business owner himself - might be really interesting to everyone else.