Back in 1999 a lot of startups burned through all of their cash on crazy advertising programs and marketing stunts. Even though HubSpot recently raised $12 million in venture capital financing, that's not us. In fact, because we use mostly inbound marketing, we spend relatively little on marketing. So, I thought it might be fun to think about the ways we could (but won't) spend the money.
- Send 17 Million Pieces of Direct Mail. There are a bunch of services where you can rent a list, they will print, address and mail a postcard for you for about $0.70 including postage. There are 25 million businesses in the US, we could get rid of the 8 million that are not a good fit for HubSpot, and send the rest of them a postcard.
- Place 50 Million Cold Calls. I found this service online that will make 1,000 cold calls for $250. Well, I've got $12 million dollars, and I figure I should get a little discount for buying in bulk. With 50 million cold calls, we could call every single business in the US.... twice. How awesome would that be! Talk about a great way to get the word out. After just a couple weeks every single business owner in the US would know HubSpot. Talk about buzz!!!
- Create a mascot and make it world famous. I am thinking that we need to do something with the orange widget in our logo. Give it a face and a name, and have it walk around and talk to people about marketing. Maybe it could also be really snarky and sarcastic and make funny jokes about how lame most advertising is. We'll schedule some time with the creatives at our NYC advertising agency and then hire a director to film some short movies with our new mascot. (Inspiration: Do you remember the Pets.com sock puppet? It was a character that the startup created to market itself. When the company finally went bankrupt, many people speculated that the sock puppet character was worth more than the company.)
- Buy 1 Billion Pop-up Ads. If you assume a $12 CPM for pop-up ads we could get a billion of them. Imagine a billion pop-ups invading every computer online. We could do all of the "best practices" for pop-up ads. "Squash the monkey and win a prize." "Pick who will win, Obama or Hillary." "System message: Your computer is about to electrocute your mother unless you click this box and pay $9.95 to have the virus removed." I think the response to this would be huge!
- Start a Fleet of 5 HubSpot Blimps. This would be cool. We just pick the 5 best markets in the US for HubSpot and park a blimp overhead 24x7. A blimp is about $2 million, so this plan still gives us $400K to pay for gas and pilots for each blimp (and you thought I wasn't thinking ahead). Everyone in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco would be wondering "What the heck does HubSpot have to do with a blimp?" We'd be wondering the same thing. But it would still be cool.
- Put Marketing Devices Similar to Bombs in a City. You all heard about the backfired marketing stunt in Boston from Turner Broadcasting? Where they put electronic signs that got mistaken for bombs around the city? Sure, it shut down a lot of the major roads and got them sued and they had to pay a ton of fees in damages to the city. But talk about BUZZ, baby! The stunt got them coverage in the New York Times! All PR is good PR as they say. And with $12 million we can place a lot of devices and still pay off a bunch of lawsuits. Bring it on!
- The HubSpot NASCAR team. Sure, there is not a strong connection between NASCAR fans and HubSpot's target market. But who can resist the lure of getting involved in one of the fastest growing sports in the US, especially when it is much more open to commercial involvement that other sports. A cool $12 million will net us a lead sponsorship of a lower level NASCAR team, including our logo on the car, uniforms, using the crew in marketing events, and more.
- Hire a Celebrity Spokesperson. Want a great way to get people to pay more attention to your company? Hire a celebrity as your spokesperson. GoDaddy has Danica Patrick. Accenture uses Tiger Woods. I had a hard time thinking about who would be best for HubSpot. But I think Oprah might be a good choice - she has proven she has staying power, and she is basically a self made marketing success having promoted herself for years. Another choice might be Martha Stewart. I'd just want to hear her say "HubSpot, its a good thing." But I guess the whole insider trading and prision thing might not be a positive for our brand. If you have ideas about this, leave a comment. I'm all ears.
- 10,000 Hours of Infomercials. Have you ever bought a set of steak knives from a late-night TV ad? What about a juicer or car wax? And don't forget any number of cleaning products from electric sweepers to miracle stain removers. Do you dread your nights of insomnia because you fear it will cost you more than just lost sleep because the infomercials are too convincing? Clearly we're missing a big opportunity here. I mean at 2am when you can't sleep, you are certainly looking for some inbound marketing software. HubSpot Infomercials, here we come! "Get started fast with just 12 monthly payments of $250! Buy today and get a Free Website Grader Report!"
- Send 250 Billion Spam Emails. Yes, 250 BILLION with a B, baby!!! This is an even better deal than those cold calls. I found this service online that will send 4,000,000 "opt-in emails" for just $200, and again, they discount at higher volumes so I should be able to get an even better rate. Think about the effect this would have. If we sent them all at once we could probably crash the entire Internet. Sure, probably a lot of them would be blocked by Spam filters. But some of them would have to get through. Plus the buzz factor would be tremendous!!! Pretty much everyone on the planet could get an email from HubSpot. Or every person in the US old enough to use email could get 1,000 HubSpot advertisement emails. That's one a day for three years. Huge! The best part about this program... they take credit cards online so I get 12 million AMEX points once I fill out my expense report. Can you say 4 weeks all expenses paid in Tahiti? I can!
What would you do if you wanted to waste $12 million on marketing? Leave a comment with your own funny idea.
The Funniest Idea of How to Spend $12 Million to Market HubSpot will Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card
Post your idea as a comment on this article. The comment must be made by 12 midnight on Tuesday, May 20, and I alone will be responsible for determining what the funniest idea is.
Update: Contest is Now Closed
The winner is Pete from www.elrhino.com. His reponse, and the accompanying Boston Globe article was the one that caused the most out loud laughter around the office. Click here to open the full size version in a new window. Pete should email me at mvolpe [at] hubspot [dot] com to claim your prize.
There were lots of good ideas! All the other tattoo ideas were good, the in person pop-ups suggested by Lisa Warnock were cool (and actually could be do-able on a small scale), and the awesome idea of HubSpot toilet paper by Darren Angus with the slogan "When you least want to be interrupted, you'll be happy we are there." I wonder what Charmin would charge for that?