Trying to get people interested in your startup may seem like fighting a losing battle. The early stages of a business contend with several challenges when persuading customers to get involved. Advertising to a large market can be expensive, and you have to figure out if your strategy will even work with your core audience. Standard marketing campaigns can be useful, but audience responses can be lackluster for something they’ve seen dozens of businesses try before.
The solution is to think outside the box when developing your promotional campaigns. To help, these 10 leaders from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss the unique, out-of-the-box promotions that did wonders for their businesses in the early days of their development, and why they worked so well.
1. A Motorcycle Giveaway
We gave away a motorcycle in a clickbait campaign that literally said “Delivering pizza to our competitor, then giving them the bike, too.” People loved it, and not only did our business increase tremendously, but so did our competitors’—though not nearly as much as ours. We were the bike-giveaway-good-guys. To this day everyone is confused—and highly interested in us. – Joey Bertschler, uniworld.io
2. Inviting Leaders For Lunch
One out-of-the-box promotion we had in our early days was inviting local business owners over to our offices for lunch. It wasn’t a sales pitch, but it led to a lot of sales. We invited them to meet our team, see how we do things and then, eventually, sometimes we would talk about their business and they would end up signing on as a client. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
3. A Mailer With Baby Socks
My company has a business-to-business focus and we typically target large companies. When I first started my company, I faced the challenge of trying to get a meeting or even a call back. I ended up doing a mailer with baby socks in it. The caption at the top was, “We’re just trying to get our foot in the door.” After 16 years, that mailer is still one of the highest response rates we’ve ever received! – Bill Mulholland, ARC Relocation
MORE FOR YOU
4. Custom Calendars With Fun Facts
When I launched my first company in 2011, my clients were mostly music buyers, label execs and artist managers. I created custom calendars that were packed with near-daily fun facts from music and pop-culture history, along with important industry dates like Grammy deadlines, festivals, etc. They were incredibly popular. Tons of customers told me years later they still referenced them. – Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker
5. Personalized Sales Videos
During the young stages of my startup, we were just cold-emailing a list of people without any personalization or relevancy. But over time, we as a team realized that it just wasn’t bringing enough results like we had planned. Then we started recording personalized sales videos for targeted prospects and sent those to them. That brought more than 20x revenue compared to just cold-emailing. – Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz
6. A Door-To-Door Campaign
Door-to-door is so old-school that it was a unique way at the time to market with our local businesses. Our company started to grow exponentially when we made great quality websites for them. Bigger clients noticed us and so we needed to hire more people, get a bigger office and do better projects. Everything worked out well because we kept on giving value to our clients on every project. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. A Spin-To-Win Campaign
We were surprised at the impact of our spin-to-win campaign. Early on, we introduced a pop-up designed to catch customers on their way out the door. All they had to do was click our call to action for a chance to win a free software license or a deep discount. Our sales nearly doubled after implementing this promotion. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
8. Using Points For Raffle Entries
We used a points system to generate entries into a raffle where we gave away a few of the latest iPads. Participants got points for completing an email signup, commenting on blog posts, mentioning our site on their blog and several other things. It ended up working out quite well because of all the different ways you could enter and it was easily worth the investment. –Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
9. Temporarily Free In-App Purchases
When I launched my app, we made all in-app purchases free for the first week. It generated a lot of positive publicity and it allowed us to show new users how great our paid services are. – Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
10. A Landing Page Sweepstakes
We had a mini sweepstakes on our website that allowed visitors to win discounts, freebies and merchandise (e.g. caps, a mirror, socks, etc). It was just a simple game, but it made our landing page much more successful. – Daisy Jing, Banish