The Secret Marketing Strategies For Building Huge Consumer Brands
Ask any marketer at a consumer internet company where they spend their budget and the answer will be a long one.
Paid user acquisition is a science unto itself and very important for many consumer internet companies. However, in my opinion the best consumer internet companies have become successful by focusing on more creative and unconventional marketing methods. Let’s look at a few case studies and deconstruct them:
Focused PR and grassroots marketing. 10 years ago, Zillow founder Rich Barton approached marketing head Amy Bohutinsky with a challenge – grow Zillow’s audience from nothing to 1 million visitors per month by launch day without spending any money (there is a great article detailing this very situation). Amy blew right through the goal hitting 1 million visitors in the first three days post-launch and 5 million visitors in the first month. She did this through savvy PR, grassroots marketing, and by leveraging Zillow’s Zestimate product, an online home valuation tool. They were doing all sorts of creative things like showcasing celebrity homes and creating useful real estate market benchmarks which were then syndicated out to major media outlets and even used by the government (note: Waze did something similar with traffic data). Zillow ended up being hugely successful in driving word of mouth traffic. They did this by building something that really resonated with consumers and by being particularly adroit in how they created buzz.
TV show / Content Production. Did you know that Ancestry.com co-produced a TV show on NBC called “Who Do You Think You Are”? It was a partnership between Shed Media, NBC and Ancestry.com. In each episode, a celebrity goes on a journey to trace parts of his or her family tree with the help of Ancestry.com’s service. What could have ended up being a catastrophic marketing failure or silly gimmick ended up being positively game changing – the show went on for seven seasons (Wikipedia) and was a huge success. Prior to launching the TV show, the company was consistently adding 30-40k subscribers per quarter. After the show’s debut the company added 150k subscribers that quarter and 100k in the quarter after that. Talk about unconventional marketing!
As a side note, this isn’t the only company that has experimented with producing TV shows. JustFab, a women’s ecommerce unicorn, helped create a reality TV series called “Kimora: House of Fab” which chronicled the day-to-day life at JustFab (Wikipedia). The series focused on Kimora Simmons’ career with the company.
Gifting. Forget PR, content marketing and TV. Sometimes a consumer product or service inherently lends itself well to friend referral marketing or gifting. This has proven to be a powerful marketing vector for Blue Apron’s subscription meal kit service. I personally know many people who have gifted a week or even a month’s worth of Blue Apron meals to someone because, well, why not? It’s just a lot of fun and a really cool gesture. There is probably some friend that you know enjoys cooking and will definitely consume the product (as opposed to gifting them ill-fitting apparel from an ecommerce site or a Postmates delivery when they aren’t home). Gifting someone meals to cook on their own time just makes a lot of sense and is really smart on Blue Apron’s part. It also creates a ton of brand excitement that spills over magnificently onto social media.
Most successful consumer internet companies have some secret sauce that has helped them build strong brands and drive significant organic traffic. I have highlighted just a few creative marketing strategies that go beyond standard paid user acquisition – they are outlined in the original blog post.
Also, go read the rest to learn how Supercell and GoPro found their specific growth channel to become consumer brand hits.