The marketing gimmicks listed here are age-old but don’t seem to have lost their charm even today. The deal is to use them innovatively to suit your marketing objectives. These are expected to help you grow your customer base multi-folds in a very short span without spending a dime! Some of these have helped me over and over again in my role as a marketer all through my career in the IT industry and I draw inspiration from companies that have used them in interesting ways. I have consolidated such examples and listed below for ready reference of those who look forward to get inspired.
An interesting example to quote would be that of AirBnB’s innovative gimmick of reverse engineering their way into Craigslist to help their users cross-post, thereby leveraging a huge community that already existed.
This gimmick lasted a few days, Craigslist apparently blocked the AirBnB API from posting into their system, but it did create a lot of initial buzz to help AirBnB get started. This is amusing to me specially owing to the originality of the idea, the efforts of re-engineering and the fact that marketers at AirBnB knew this would be very shortlived, but they still invested their time into it. This stunt is not for the fainthearted. You might want to get into an official co-marketing/community development partnership, but the key here is to leverage existing networks and their credibility to grow multi-fold quickly.
Virality built inside the product
A lot of marketers rely solely on social networks, advertisements, referral programs, contests to generate virality little realising the power and potential of their own product. The mantra here is to look inside. You will find something that you can do to leverage your early adopters to spread the word to their networks without having to hard push a referral program.
Hotmail did this well too by including a simple message at the end of every email automatically “Get Your Own Free Email account”. When Sabeer sent an email to an Indian friend one day, that triggered 2 lakh new signups on Hotmail from India within days. This technique was more recently replicated by Blackberry for emails sent by users that included an auto message at the end “Sent from my Blackberry”.
Creating viral loops through referral programs
Each one of your user should bring in atleast one more new user for your product. This is the holy grail of viral marketing. Give away something that doesn’t cost you much but is of significant value to your user. A two way reward program would be ideal. Make sure you incentivise both the referrer and the referee for being part of your journey.
Be mindful of the fact that it is very important to retain your users. A database of a lakh signups that do not use your product will take you nowhere. Guide them through their journey of your product. The needs of a new user that has just signed up for your product and those of a user that has been around for a month consistently are very different. Also do keep an eye out for understanding new use cases of your product that your users may discover!
This is where companies can consciously leverage networks of their users to spread the word by encouraging more usage and incentivising love for the product.
Well, we all look up to our friends for advice every time we are trying out something new. For each action that your user takes, there should be a new social proof generated which will further build your case online.
Creating a waiting list, by invitation only community of users, creating a hype, a rush to try your product free for an exclusive set of users on first come first serve, merit or other factors is a marketing gimmick used by many brands before. It still doesn’t seem to have lost its charm, try it if you think that will work for your product.
Word of caution, do not force fit these gimmicks into your marketing plan, use only what works best for your audience and your product category. Your product may or may not have a virality loop, social sharing potential and the last thing you want to do is annoy your users. But the good news is, by using some of these tactics that suit your needs best, you might be able to increase your base of users (for your product or app) without much effort, just by being creative.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of the employer.)