For many of the world’s most well-known businesses, things were rocky at the start. Sales were trickling in, growth was stagnant and hope was low. But with a little planning, research and imagination, these companies were able to turn things around following creative marketing campaigns. In this article, we will review some of the companies that went from zeroes to heroes after a creative marketing strategy paid off.
With an average of 328 million monthly users, it’s hard to remember a time when Twitter wasn’t one of the most powerful social media channels available. But during the early days of Twitter, things were anything but smooth sailing. While all new companies face some struggles early on, Twitter was also inventing a brand-new business as well.
The first tweet was sent on March 21, 2006. At that time, the company was on precarious footing because of its affiliation with Odeo, a website that allowed users to create, record and share podcasts. Apple had just released its own podcasting platform, which essentially made Odeo null and void. Worried about the future, the founders of Twitter bought their company back from Odeo, somewhat controversially.
With many of their early adopters heading to the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive Conference, Twitter executives saw a golden marketing opportunity. Rather than buying a booth like everyone else, they instead worked with the conference directors to setup “tweet visualization screens,” allowing everyone at the event to see how Twitter worked in real time. Conference attendees were able to tweet and then see their tweets show up in real time on the tweet visualization screens. Over 60,000 tweets were sent out that day, and the rest is history.
Lesson: By identifying your current demographic and going where they are, you can find others who share their interests and promote your brand in front of a captive audience.
Before 1996, there were no free webmail services available. Hotmail became the first one and faced some difficult marketing decisions early on. Working with a limited budget, they could not afford to spend big dollars on billboards, radio ads, television commercials and other types of traditional marketing. What they did instead is considered one of the first growth hacks of the Internet era.
At the end of each Hotmail message, the company put “P.S.: I love you. Get Your free email at Hotmail.” This essentially became a free advertisement for the platform every time one of its users sent an email. Within six months, Hotmail had gained 1 million new users. By December of 1997, they had over 10 million users and were sold to Microsoft for $400 million.
Lesson: There are low cost ways to market your products and services if you’re willing to think outside of the box.
With over 500 million users worldwide, Dropbox is one of the most popular file hosting and sharing services on the web. But when they first began in 2007, they struggled to find a marketing scheme that would propel their growth. The problem was that they had a service that people didn’t yet know they had a need for. In what would become one of the most viral referral programs in history, Dropbox empowered its early users to grow the company.
The company placed a “Get free space button” on its homepage, offering users an extra 500 megabytes of free space for every friend they invited and convinced to sign up. This fueled signups, increasing them by 60 percent for several months. To this day, many of Dropbox’s users come via referrals.
Lesson: Your most powerful brand ambassadors are your current customers. Give them a reason and a method to share what you have to offer with their friends, family members and coworkers.
Unlike the above-mentioned companies, Old Spice was well-known on the market prior to its rebranding from 2008-2010. Created in 1937, Old Spice was, well, old. Their demographic was elderly men, and they had a decidedly uncool image. In addition, the introduction of Axe to the male fragrance market put even more pressure on Old Spice to reach a younger demographic. A viral ad campaign called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” completely changed the perception of the men’s fragrance company.
The Old Spice Man, former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, asked women to “look at your man, now back at me” while riding horseback or taking a shower. Because of its humor and the brand not taking itself too seriously, it became an instant hit with young consumers, generating millions of online views. The follow-up social media campaign was also a huge hit. Within one year, Old Spice Body Wash sales rose by 11 percent.
This campaign was the second and most memorable of Old Spice’s rebranding efforts. In 2008, watching its sales of “Glacial Falls” cologne struggle, the company changed the fragrance’s name to “Swagger,” creating the “Old Spice Swagger” campaign. The goal was to target the 12-34 demographic, and to reach them they teamed up with stars like rapper LL Cool J, NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.
Lesson: You can shift demographics and change perceptions about your brand by using creativity and humor in your marketing.
The right type of marketing can accelerate your growth and take your company from obscurity to mainstream. It involves finding the right combination between creativity, reaching the right demographic and finding the right advertising channels. Mary Pomerantz Advertising can help your company find the advertising strategy it needs to get to the next level. Call 732-214-9600 to get started.