Case Study: Grasshopper.com (formerly GotVMail Communications)
GotVMail Communications was founded in 2003 as a virtual business phone (PBX / VOIP) telecommunications product/service company to help smaller businesses give the appearance of being much larger than they really were. They were a strong, smaller company looking to grow.
In May 2009, the executive team decided to go through a re-branding initiative to help explain to the world their new mix of advanced services and position themselves as a universal resource committed to the advancement of entrepreneurs.
The company founders realized that they could leverage the re-branding process and use it as an opportunity to create large scale awareness through a national, viral plan.
The integrated print+online marketing campaign consisted of the following elements:
1. Branding, Design & Programming
Naming, design, print, programming and social media elements were all universally aligned around the company’s new core values of inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs. The name “Grasshopper” was chosen to exemplify the forward motion and leap ahead advantage that the company aims to provide for its emerging entrepreneur target audience.
2. Video & YouTube
Creating a public service-like animated motion graphic video rather than a traditional corporate promotion ensured that the commitment to entrepreneurial excellence was clearly demonstrated and felt prior to revealing the source of the video. The final screen read: “See how Grasshopper empowers entrepreneurs to succeed.” The video was launched May 4, 2009 and timed to match the official re-branding announcement (PR) with placement on YouTube and the company’s new website.
3. Direct Mail Design, Printing & Fulfillment
Knowing that most standard direct mail pieces get stuck at the gatekeeper, Grasshopper took several precautionary tactics to ensure the right person got the right promotion at the right time. First, they carefully identified a list of the right reporters, journalists, TV anchors, bloggers, celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs and CEOs. After three months of very careful list scrubbing, they culled their list down to the perfect group of 5,000 key influentials. Second, they created a compelling piece consisting of: a box, minimal branding consisting of their logo and url, chocolate-covered grasshoppers and a message of: “You’re a risk-taker, a dream-realizer. What’s left to do that you haven’t already done? Eat a grasshopper.” The bag of grasshoppers had a tag with a final call to action, “ Entrepreneurs Can Change the World. Join the Movement Now!” with the URL for the video posted on the company’s website. Finally, the target audience received the piece via FedEx (not USPS) to ensure the true recipient actually received it in time…not the gatekeeper.
4. Sales Follow Up & Social Media Interaction
Employees from the company followed up with every blogger and key influential to make sure they received the package safely and that it had indeed been opened. Next, they began responding to online questions posted on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks. Conversations were not aimed at promoting the company brand, but rather encouraging recipients to create and submit their own photos or videos for placement on the Grasshopper.com website.
In the first month after the campaign launched, the video on their website received over 47,000 unique page views with their video on YouTube generating around 130,000 views with 400+ 5-star ratings and over 160 comments.
The most successful channel of all the social media tools, the campaign was mentioned in 1,461 tweets by key influentials including: Guy Kawasaki, Alltop Founder; Kevin Rose, Digg Founder, and Jason Calacanis, Mahalo, CEO – influencers with a reach of more than one million followers.
The campaign was also mentioned within 119 blog posts and news articles, with features appearing on seven major tv network broadcasts.
Traffic to their website increased significantly in the first month, with a 93% conversion of viewers clicking on the “How it works” section to learn more about their services. In addition, the company has seen a 4,911% increase in visitors from Twitter and a 3,286% increase in visitors from Facebook plus 30,000 referrals from StumbleUpon alone.
REVERSE ENGINEER THE CAMPAIGN
Crafting a buzz-worthy campaign is no small feat and several key components were integral to ensuring a viral campaign that generated more buzz than the company had received in the previous 6 years of business combined.
Grasshopper.com’s well-designed direct mail piece was unexpected, non-traditional and unique. Minimal branding combined with a unique leave behind and a well-scrubbed list ensured that 95% of recipients went to the URL and almost unheard-of response compared to the traditional 2-5% standard direct mail response rate of a basic postcard.
The animated motion graphic video was focused squarely on celebrating the potential of entrepreneurs to change the world and celebrating them as an important, exciting part of our lives. By de-emphasizing their branding relationship to the video, the founders ensured the viral-ability of the video and it has now been seen at many entrepreneurial-focused conferences ensuring it continues to have longevity long after the initial campaign is over.
By integrating multiple print+online marketing components in a careful and well-thought out manner ensured that each tool performed at its highest potential and leveraged one another for optimal success. Careful list scrubbing, direct mail design, website/video + social media integration guaranteed a viral, unparalleled result that to date has been unmatched.