I was approached with a simple brief…

The client, a start-up rookie trying to make a break from his 9-to-5 as a builder, wanted to have some level of comfort that the initial production run of his product would sell.

The product we were marketing is targeted at the 15 to 21 age group and is a boutique play (i.e. it differentiates by being better and more expensive). I suggested, instead of his initial desire to “go retail” and sell exclusively in shops (Worst. Idea. Ever.), that he sell exclusively online for the first run. This approach would allow him to:

  • Build a marketing list which can be revisited for the second run, third run, and so on;
  • Create an online buzz that would get potential resellers coming to him, instead of vice versa; and
  • Find, court, and on-board brand champions to continue the momentum after the campaign ended.

He agreed and we (myself and Peter Wright, a great friend of mine and the dude who looked after all of the implementation) set about brainstorming a campaign. What we ended up coming up with was a little unorthodox but the results were truly spectacular.

  • We firstly created a page using Kickofflabs.com. This service is specifically designed for viral landing pages. They have a free package, but the cheapest one without their branding on it is $15 USD per month.
  • On the page we added a very vague product shot. Minimal detail – just enough to give the punters confidence that we weren’t selling vapor. To be honest, the product does look pretty darn cool. Important thing to note here is that the product itself DID NOT YET EXIST… The photo was taken from a very early prototype.
  • The Special Sauce: If you sign up to a Kickofflabs.com page it creates you a unique referral URL. If you then invite someone else to sign up their sign up will be linked back to you as a credit.
  • The REALLY Special Sauce: We encouraged this influencing behavior by creating a competition – The prize being the very first of these products to hit the market. How to win it? Be the person who got the most OTHER people to sign up. Instant crrrrrazy viral nutso-ness.
  • To seed the competition and get it going, we went around the various forums relevant to the product, identified the mavens and the talkers, and let them know what was going on. NOTE: This last part took us no more than 2 hours.

The result? Truly phenomenal.

Within 7 days we had 1500 signups to the service with $0 Adwords or ANY OTHER PPC spend and an very healthy conversion rate of around 35%.

At the time of posting this the landing page has had just over 15,000 hits since it’s launch on October 23rd. If the conversion rate carried through they should have over 5000 signups by now.

The client was initially aiming for a Christmas release, then a January release, and then a Q1 release… (hopefully the poor kids who signed up will get their widget one day…) My point is that after 3 months the competition is still running and still going strong generating leads WITHOUT A SET END DATE.

All of these signups are motivated by 3 things: Free. Cool. First.

  • They’ll win something for free… Everyone likes that.
  • What they’ll win is presumably cool (in part because of the buzz we generated).
  • They’ll be the first to have it… Kids seem to dig that. Grown-ups do too given the right market.

I’ll do another post shortly to report back on what sharing methods attract the most leads… There’s some eye-opening information there as well.

I don’t condone setting up an offer like this if you have no intention to follow through on your word (which remains to be seen here) but it goes to show that the barrier for permission is pretty low with the right incentive.

Selah!