Photo Courtesy of Zoho

It’s no secret, I’m a fan of Zoho and Zappos. Their approach to marketing, branding, customer service and creating company culture resonate with me. Earlier this year, one of Zoho’s competitors hosted a huge event in San Francisco and of course they weren’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 a brilliant piece of marketing and it’s what your marketing should look like in 2014.

Innovative and 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?

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 12.17.50 PMEffective Use of Social Media.

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.

Your business can have the same kind of success.

Just look for potential problems and be the creative solution.