Let me tell you a little story.

When I attended the Free Style Conference (a conference for people in beauty & retail business), I noticed this guy promoting his e-cigarettes.

free-style-conference-hall

Now, I found that a little odd because what on earth does e-cigarette have anything to do with beauty & fashion?

Maybe he’s trying to get models for his next marketing campaign? But if that’s the case, why spend money and sponsor a booth?

So is he trying to get distributors? Maybe.

Is he maybe hoping that someone with retail presence would want to hook him up with their distributors? Who knows.

I listened to him for at least 30 minutes because I was trying to figure it out.

Then, I had the chance to talk to him after the conference during their mini happy hour.

This man is a complete genius.

It turns out he’s there to get free publicity.

How?

That conference was attended by influencers who, on the average, have following between 200 to couple of thousands. On top of that they were tweeting / instagraming like there’s NO tomorrow

There were over 200 attendees. That’s 200 x (say average) 500 followers = 100k followers.

Meaning 100k people got to see his products for FREE, but in social context (not in advertising context).

If he had to pay $50 CPM to get his stuff seen via traditional sponsorship, that’d be $5,000 worth of free ad impressions.

Not bad huh?

Sure it’s not direct response marketing but it is still free advertising, not to mention all those connections he’s potentially making with retail influencers
Here’s the thing.

When you are taught marketing by some “guru”, you tend to become tunnel visioned and start thinking that is the only way.

One of the things I tended to believe that if I wanted online success, EVERYTHING had to be online. But people are by nature social, and real social stuff happens OFF-line in the real world.

Internet-Addiction

If I know you AND like you in real life, i am more likely to give you a link on my site, or at least mention you on my social profile.
Here are some activities that a lot of marketes tend to discredit, but are insanely powerful.

1) Participating in Pop Culture

If you are not from US/Canada, April 1st (i.e. April Fool’s) is the day we play prank on each other. Why? I have n o idea.

At first, it seems like it’s just a ploy to get some cheap laughs.

But, actually, pop culture can be an AWESOME SEO tool get people to link to your site.

If you do a prank, not only is it going to make people laugh (and spreading laughter is always a good karma, even if you are a huge corporation) but it can get quite viral and people (i.e. bloggers) will link to your prank.

Do a search on “april fools roundup” and you’ll notice bloggers linking to the sites that have pulled off good pranks.

april-fools-roundup-google-search-results

Remember… FREE links = SEO power.

2) Entering & Holding Contests

I’ve mentioned this again and again.

Contests are freakin’ AWESOME.

I managed to grow an email list 1400% just tapping into dog owner’s vanity.

What dog owner DOESN’T want to think that her dog is the cutest on earth? Who doesn’t want to enter the competition and actually win it?

We’re biologically WIRED to want to win competitions, no matter how trivial the reward might seem.

Of course, if your contest has some spiritual or psychological “twist”, it works even better and people will do the hard of promoting your contest for you (like this Dove campaign for “real beauty”).

dove-beauty-competition

Here’s the crazy thing.

You know those fantasy sports websites where you create leagues, trade players, invite friends, etc…

That business is worth $70 BILLION dollars and it’s not even real sports! ( source )

Yes, contests are an insanely profitable & addictive marketing tool.

3) Taking picture with influencers

I always wondered, why on earth do marketers take pictures with celebrities & influencers?

Simple: BUILD trust.

If I take picture with Mother Theresa, the odds are that when I ask people money for donation while standing in front of a large picture of me and Mother Theresa, people will “trust” me.

When I started my previous solar lead generation business, i needed to build trust fast.

How?

I went to an event held by SunPower (a large solar panel manufacturer), I wore a short that said “SunPower”… in front of a solar panel that said “SunPower”.

taewoo-in-front-of-sunpower-solar-panel

On top of that, I took a picture with the CEO of the largest SunPower franchiser (at the time).

taewoo-and-mark-danenhower-president-founder-of-the-solar-company

Every time a SunPower dealer would call me, I pointed that out …. and voila! Customer acquired!

Key Takeaway

  1. Offline is sometimes the best online link building tool
  2. Be savvy with media, especially pictures & videos
  3. Use human vanity to your advantage and hold marketing contests

What have you used in the past that worked well? Share your ideas in the comments box.