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Photo Courtesy of Zoho

This out-of-the-box marketing campaign was sheer genius and it’s not just because I’m a fan of Zoho products. One of Zoho’s competitors hosted a conference in San Francisco and of course Zoho wasn’t invited. But potential Zoho customers would be there and we all know the name of the game is to be where your customers or potential customers congregate. What Zoho did was brilliant and this marketing strategy is something all small business owners can learn from.

Be Innovative and Go Offline

So if Zoho couldn’t go inside and interact with customers, they found a way to connect with them outside. Here’s what they did. Zoho gave free pedicab rides to conference attendees. Seems the event was spread out and getting around was difficult for conference goers. So pedicabs decorated with the Zoho logo and a message that said, “Take a test ride. Salesforce doesn’t have to know” filled the street and conference goers were appreciative.

How smart was this? Zoho saw a problem and offered a solution. This put them directly in front of potential customers in a positive way. Who can be mad a free ride? Now marketing of this magnitude requires a decent budget even though Zoho’s Brand and Marketing Specialist, Aravind Natarajan, called the budget “minimal.” Regardless of the budget, it’s all about creating positive customer experiences and that’s what Zoho did.

As much as a I appreciate social media, this marketing effort took customer engagement offline. Some of your best customer interactions will take place outside of social media.

In addition to the free pedicab rides, Zoho also bought conference attendees lunch. You can get pretty hungry in between all those workshops and visiting exhibitor booths and Zoho delivered another solution for these conference goers…a warm free meal. What I absolutely loved about this were the napkins that accompanied the meal. They had red lipstick stained notes printed on them. The note read, “Call Me! (or text me if you’re too busy)” signed, “Your dreamforce secret.” The napkin included Zoho’s phone number. How fun is this?

marketing strategy

Use Social Media Effectively

Offline and online marketing works together perfectly. Zoho used Twitter hashtags to let conference attendees know that they were giving away free pedicab rides and used sponsored tweets to help get the word out. According to Zoho the stats from Twitter were “overwhelming” and they got some great feedback from happy conference attendees.

Now notice how Zoho wasn’t disruptive to their competitor’s conference. They simply showed up in a way that added to the conference goer’s experience. Will Zoho be remembered, maybe even called or their services tried because of this non-disruptive yet highly effective marketing campaign? You bet they will.

When Possible Take A Risk and Do Something Different

Someone at Zoho scanned the horizon and saw an incredible opportunity. The ROI justified the risks and costs associated with a campaign of this magnitude so it was a huge win. This type of campaign isn’t something many small businesses could implement but you could scan the horizon of your own industry and plan something equally amazing within your company’s reach. Start thinking of ways to stand out, look for opportunities where you could make a huge impact and see a sizable ROI for your marketing efforts. If you or your staff need help with some out-of-the-box marketing ideas, I’m happy to help. You can schedule a complimentary Discovery Session here.

Will there be risks? Definitely. Are they worth it? Zoho would most likely tell you yes.


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