1. WePay drops 600 Pounds of ice in front of PayPal conference
One lovely morning, the group payment startup WePay, dropped a 600 pound block of ice outside its giant competitor, PayPal’s office. PayPal had recently made bad news with freezing certain accounts. WePay wanted prospects to know that they could count on them, hence the marketing shtick where WePay froze hundreds of dollars inside a block of ice with the words “PayPal freezes your accounts” and that you should “unfreeze your money” by switching to WePay.
Moments after the WePay team dropped their block outside the Moscone center, a PayPal security guard chased them to remove it, but not before TechCrunch covered the proceedings on their website. Did the trick work? Yes. WePay documented that they received a 300% increase in weekly traffic, 225% increase in signups, and a 3x higher landing page conversion rate.
- WePay had a dedicated landing page. WePay dedicated a special landing page for its stunt where they could advertise and assess response to its campaign.
- WePay involved its viewers. WePay involved its viewers in the experience by posting pictures and documenting the process.
- WePay responded. WePay knew it had something viral going for them and that it would need to be ready to answer a barrage of tweets, emails, and, possibly, media interest. It prepared itself for when the questions arrived.
2. Eat24's success advertising on porn sites
There is small coincidence that Eat24’s greatest consumers are porn stars, since the company largely advertises on porn sites. It started when Eat24 looked for the cheapest marketing option, while checking where the majority of Americans spent their time online. They discovered that pornographic sites attracted 30% of all web traffic and that 40 million Americans visited them a day. Porn sites cost 1/10th the price of Google+, Twitter, or Facebook ads, and best of all showed no major brand advertising there. Eat24, thereupon, spent hours analyzing typical ads and testing their own images and titles. Typical ads were, duh, sexy, so Eat24 stood out by running its own. They reported that their banner ads saw three times the impressions of ads they ran on Google, Twitter and Facebook combined, that they received a huge spike in orders during the time their ads were live, and that they achieved all of this for 90% less than what they would have otherwise paid with conventional ads.
- Dare to be different. Dare to do the unpopular. Some companies may reject porn sites because of their reputations. Eat24 used it for its profits.
- Continuous testing. Eat24 “conducted countless hours of research over long sleepless nights” to see what would work. Their work paid off. They found, for instance, that five times as many people clicked on their banner ad when it was placed next to a video than when it was placed on the homepage.
- When rejected, ask why. One of Eat24’s rejected ads featured a monkey. Upon inquiry, the company learned that porn sites hate monkeys. Rejection stings, but finding out why you were rejected can help you.
3. The man who jumped from the helium balloon
Red Bull messengers are stunt professionals who hype Red Bull with sponsored events, such as a jump over the Corinth Isthmus or a dive in the Voullagmeni Lake. On October 10, 2012, Red Bull did its most spectacular stunt yet, sending Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space in a helium balloon and having him jump 12,000 feet down to earth. Millions of viewers, who had been told of the event ahead of time by social and mass media, stared at the Red Bull logo stretched across his parachute and breathed a sigh of relief when Felix landed safely.
In the six months following this stunt, sales rose from 7% to $1.6 billion, according to research firm IRI. The company sold 5.2 billion cans worldwide, a 13% increase over the year before, and markets as far afield as South Africa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, France and Germany, also, saw double-digit gains.
- Right place and time. Red Bull chose the right audience in the right context. The stunt resonated with its brand. It reflected the essence of the brand and was targeted to viewers who sought adventure.
- Right messengers. Red Bull used digital PR services that can, sometimes, be more effective and are always cheaper than advertising. Web PR services gets its clients onto media outlets such as Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, Forbes and The Chicago Tribune. This plan worked for Red Bull.
- Building momentum. Red Bull talked to the media for months before Felix took the plunge. The company waited for the buzz to spread and for web PR gurus to spread the news so that people everywhere would stop what they were doing to watch.
3 most important takeaways
If you want to remember anything, it’s this:
- Do your own thing as each of these ‘crazy’ companies did. They profited.
- Choose the right audience and context, so that your project has maximum impact.
- Be ready to respond, so that you can profit from results.