How can I generate website traffic with $0 marketing budget, Have Already done all general stuff, but no avail – Part 3?

Continued from Part 2

I will assume that you went through the first part and the second part, if not you can go through the first part Here, and the Second part here, now getting right on to it :- The third method is Be the David.

sumo-david-golliath3. Be the David

It’s not that you don’t have a marketing budget. It’s just that people keep doing everything to stop you. You have such a wonderful product, but people can’t hear about you.

Just look at the chilling tale of Häagen-Dazs vs. Ben & Jerry’s. This story is an oldie, but a goodie.

Reuben Mattus was a Polish immigrant. He was 47 when he decided to start his own ice cream company with his wife, Rose Mattus. They called it Häagen-Dazs, which as you may already know, means absolutely nothing. It’s two made-up words meant to look Scandinavian.

Let’s go back to 1978 in Burlington, Vermont. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, “a couple of hippies,” as they have described themselves, took a twelve thousand dollar investment– four thousand of it borrowed– and opened an ice cream scoop shop in a renovated gas station.

They called it Ben & Jerry’s, and within a few short years, it became a staple of Burlington, Vermont. They opened their first franchise in 1981, and in 1983, the same year Pillsbury bought up Häagen-Dazs for eight figures, Ben & Jerry’s opened their first out-of-state franchise. Within a year, the two companies would be, more or less, at each others throats.

I probably don’t need to tell you that Häagen-Dazs was a huge success. In 1983, Häagen-Dazs was sold to the Pillsbury company for 70 million dollars. See, while the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream scoop stores were nice, the real business was in the cartons of ice cream they sold in grocery stores.

When Ben & Jerry’s began moving into Boston, the “Doughboy” tried to throw his weight around. Häagen-Dazs threatened to pull their product from grocery stores and other distributors unless those distributors signed an agreement that would basically make them the exclusive premium ice cream brand in all of Boston.

It might sound a little outrageous now, but it makes sense. Pillsbury had just paid 70 million for this name brand. Of course they were going to try and protect it. Besides- Häagen-Dazs was a huge seller, one distributors couldn’t afford to lose.  Ben & Jerry’s were certainly doing well for themselves– the company brought in about 4 million dollars that year– but they simply couldn’t compete with Häagen-Dazs on that level.

As for ice cream in Boston, it seemed Ben & Jerry’s was out of the game before it even began.

But the folks at Ben & Jerry’s weren’t going to go down without a fight.

Tactically, it was a brilliant move. After all, Häagen-Dazs was more than just “another ice cream company,” It was a truly inspiring entrepreneurial achievement, an embodiment of the American Dream. Pillsbury on the other hand? Well, it was a bit easier to pass them off as a faceless corporation.

And it was that thinking which begat their now infamous slogan, “What’s the doughboy afraid of?

They plastered Boston with the slogan. They took out ads on buses. They handed out flyers. They made T-shirts. They took out an ad in Rolling Stone magazine.They set up a toll-free number that people could call to learn more about the situation, and they printed that number  on every single pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream they sold.

“Do you think the Doughboy is afraid of two guys working with 23 people in 4,000 square feet of rented space?” one of their flyers read. “Do you think the Doughboy is afraid he’s only going to make $185.3 million in profits this year instead of $185.4 million? Do you think the Doughboy is afraid of the American Dream?”

A little verbose, maybe. Hyperbolic even. But it worked. Ben and Jerry were able to successfully cast themselves as the underdog victims of a cruel, faceless corporation. And the media was starting to take notice.

As the deadline Pillsbury had set for distributors to stop carrying other brands of premium ice cream neared, publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston

Globe started running pieces on this “David vs. Goliath” battle.

Finally, Pillsbury gave up. After months and months of back-and-forths, an agreement was reached: Pillsbury would not punish distributors for carrying Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Ben & Jerry’s would take the 1-800 number off of their ice cream pints.

For Ben and Jerry the battle was worth the time and effort.  After all, they got more publicity in that short time than years and years of advertising would have gotten them

How does this translate to your startup? Again, if you pitch a reporter a story about your new startup and what it does, you have a limited chance of getting attention. If you’re however the victim of some big unknown evil, or even better, a David fighting a Goliath, the media will love your story.

The key lessons from there are that

(a) if you’re competing against Yammer you should be fighting Microsoft (for the purpose of the story);

(b) if someone is trying so hard to stop you, then it goes without saying that your product is so good and superior that it deserves attention.

Morale of the Story

Traditional low budget marketing methods have a very limited success rate because your message usually gets drowned out in a sea of other messages and highly funded campaigns that as a result get much more attention.

None of the examples I shared tell you exactly what to do with your particular startup, because to really be successful you need to customize these concepts so they apply perfectly for what you are offering. I do hope that at the very least I gave you some food for thought and some leads you can follow in designing a low cost marketing solution for your launch.

How can I generate website traffic with $0 marketing budget, Have Already done all general stuff, but no avail – Part 2?

Continued from Part 1

a.baa-Game-over-shirtI will assume that you went through the first part, if not you can go through it here, now getting right on to it :- The second method is Being the platform yourself.

Being the Platform

Stop thinking about your product or platform as the story. We’ll start this one with an example. TheChive is an internet sensation and a great site for “guy stuff”. This is of course a very crowded space, and fighting for traffic is extremely difficult. They can do all the PR they want, but no one is writing an article on mainstream media about how TheChive is the best site for guy stuff just because they were pitched a PR story about it.

But what if something extremely interesting happened on theChive?

October 2010, the brilliant guys at theChive post a story that had all the characteristics of an internet sensation. Some person sent them some pictures of a girl named “Jenny” who had grown tired of her boss’ harassment and decided to quit her job in a unique and entertaining way (Girl quits her job on dry erase board, emails entire office (33 Photos)).

The story had all the components needed to go viral.

1. Jenny has a vulnerable girl next door look and she was victimized by an asshole male. Win with both guys who fantasize about being a savior and women who hate womanizing men.

2. Jenny is quitting her job in a grand way. A way many of use can only dream of having the courage to do. She’s now a hero. Gotta tell the people who work with me when the boss isn’t listening!

3. Start a discussion. HOPA? What the hell is that? I’ve never heard the term but it sounds like everyone knows what it is. How can I not know what HOPA is? Better look it up and start using the term all the time so people know I’m meme savvy! Hot Piece of Ass? But isn’t that HPOA? Better go argue with people about it.

4. Mystery. Who is she? We know so much about her, someone must know who she really is? Let me Google/Bing it!

5. Ego. Hey Techcrunch – check out this story. This guy’s system backfired on him and it turns out he spends more time reading Techcrunch than actually doing his job! How flattering! (this was an intentional part of the ploy – they referenced Techcrunch specifically).

The whole store was a clever hoax created by theChive.

The post on theChive immediately prompted John Biggs to post an article titled “It’s official: the best bosses read techcrunch” (It’s Official: The Best Bosses Read TechCrunch! | TechCrunch), and who can blame him? I would do the exact same thing if I were in his position.

Notice he posted a story about the girl, not about theChive! Nevertheless, theChive is of course linked to in the articles and in the discussion of HPOA/HOPA.

Mainstream media were soon to follow.

Reports say theChive saw traffic jump dramatically as a result of the story, from 15,000 uniques an hour to 440,000 the next. Overall, its estimated that millions of unique visitors were exposed to theChive as a result of the story. theChive has since grown to be one of the biggest blogs in the space, if not the biggest.

Morale of the story 🙂

Notice one key aspect. theChive was never the story. At least not during the actual hoax. It just happened to be the platform on which the story took place.  However, once the hoax was revealed, the creation of the hoax became the story and theChive got plenty of additional press and credibility.

2nd Part continued on Next Post….

How can I generate website traffic with $0 marketing budget, Have Already done all general stuff, but no avail – Part 1?

controversyI will assume you did the traditional stuff at a reasonable level. This means you have identified your target audience, the channels you can use to reach them and most importantly your messaging which clearly identifies your value proposition (what’s the benefit of using your product/problem you’re solving) and differentiation from competitors.

So lets get right into it. You’re launching a new startup. You spent all your money on development. You now need to launch and you really have no idea where the users are coming from. In this first installment of this 3 part series, i will show you a simple method which I call the “Shock Theory”.

Shock Theory

The Shock Theory, identifies a controversial topic that is being heavily debated by your target audience and targets it. For example, lets say you have a product that targets housewives. And lets say its early 2011 and rumors are spreading around Oprah leaving her show. This is inspiring heavy debate between haters and fans. This is your opportunity! Many of those Oprah fans are housewives!

So now you go on to all those discussion forums, Twitter hashtags and blog articles and start posting comments that are contrary to the popular opinion. For this to work, your “opinions” need to be controversial enough to spark interest and discussion, but not so controversial that people will dismiss you as a troll.

You should have a blog post set up with an article providing support and credibility to your argument… and also packed with ads for your company’s product. It goes without saying that the blog should not be on your domain or under your name. For example, here you would buy the domain “Oprahshouldhavequityearsago dot something” or something along those lines, create a blog post, and generate 20-30 comments/discussions to make it appear very active and have people feel like they need to join in on the argument.

Now all you need to do every time you engage in a debate on a third party site, is forward people to the relevant blog where they can see “evidence”.

Did I mention that the blog should be plastered with ads for your product? (Ideally, make it look like they just happen to be ads served by an ad network).

Why is this called the Shock Theory? Because you pop into a battle zone, give everyone a jolt, and watch everyone evacuate (hopefully to your new blog).

Obviously the stronger people feel about the topic, the better. Imagine how well this could work in an elections, sports, reality TV and other context.

Here’s a great example of a grenade where the scheming mind behind it was so smart they actually got the gullible reporter to write a piece about the awful epidemic of college students paying tuition by working as strippers (http://www.indianexpress.com/new…), and endorse that particular person’s strip club in the article. Amazing.

2nd Part continued on Next Post….

What are the top 6 worst things you can do for your start up early on?

Loosing Track1. Hire a law firm and end up burning cash .. very bad investment and advice.

Learning : Just because another fellow entrepreneur hired this big shot law firm, you shouldn’t.

2. Thinking that Market research is talking to friend and family. Not talking to real users specifically asking them if they would PAY … Real $$$

Learning : it’s quite easy to fall prey to false analysis. Be careful.

3. Starting with No goto market approach and focus. Thinking that you could sell to anyone and everyone .. believing that the criteria is anyone who can pay you, you can chase that “category” and potentially make money.

Learning : Focus .. Legend says Yelp spent 3 years in just SFO before they expanded to entire US (in the next 3 years)

4. Coder’s Favorite : “Let me code this one small feature as it’s quite easy for me. Because it will make my platform look cool. This will help me market the product better”.

Learning : No one .. believe me NO ONE cares about your features or technology if there is no need for it if it is not solving a problem.

5. Assuming your business is not only become successful but also will scale quickly : And assuming this on day 0. This thought itself screws your execution and line of thinking. The whole lean term shouldn’t just be in execution but also thinking. Have a big vision but lean thought.

Learning : Realistic Expectation, Focussing on the Strength of your product and Mastering it for a Target audience and then Scale

6.Choosing Partner like you Hire somebody:- Made a contractor-minded developer a co-founder or just because he name dropped references such as Ed Cass and Jonathan Perel, spoke as if he was highly intellectual and acted as if he knew what he was talking about.

Learning : Don’t just make a guy who can invest (as in Money or i Knowledge) as your partner. Your partner has to be as passionate as you are.

What are the free (or close to free) resources for entrepreneurs?

EntrepreneurIn terms of reading and learning, there is a ton of accumulated wisdom available on the Web for free thanks to the efforts of many veteran entrepreneurs, angels, VCs, lawyers, CPAs, and others.

I’ll produce my “Top 15” list of favorites here: – the focus is heavily on early-stage startups in consumer Web, mobile apps, social media, digital media and similar businesses that intend to seek angel or VC funding at some point in their lifecycle:

  1. Survey results regarding current state of the VC funding market (WSJ) – http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2010/02/19/venture-deal-terms-studies-hint-worst-is-over/tab/print/
  2. How To Pick A Co-Founder, by Naval Ravikant (Venture Hacks) – http://bll.la/4I
  3. CompStudy 2008 Report on Equity and Cash Compensation at Technology Startups – http://bll.la/4J
  4. How to Work with Lawyers at a Startup (Mark Suster) – http://bll.la/9M
  5. The Founders’ Pie Calculator (Frank Demmler) – http://bll.la/9j
  6. When and Where to Incorporate, Corporation vs. LLC, etc. (Yoichiro Taku) (“Yokum”) – http://bll.la/4K
  7. Types of Angel Financing (Scott Edward Walker) – http://bll.la/4e
  8. Seed Funding Best Practices (Mark MacLeod) (“StartupCFO”) – http://bll.la/4E
  9. Term Sheet Series (Brad Feld) – http://bll.la/9m
  10. Term Sheet Generator for Venture Financing (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) – http://bll.la/9Y, plus my commentary at http://bll.la/55
  11. Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Advisors, by Babak Nivi (Venture Hacks) – http://bll.la/4h and http://bll.la/4i
  12. How To Pump Up Your VC Valuation (Matthew Bartus) – http://bll.la/9K
  13. Series Seed” Financing Documents (Ted Wang) – http://bll.la/53,
  14. Gust.comThis is rapidly becoming a valuable resource for early stage entrepreneurs and angel investors.