Subscribe to Inc. magazine
MARKETING

Experimental Marketing: The Big Payoff of Being Scrappy

Optimizely's head of experimental marketing recently explained how to get through to your audience with empathy and a little bit of humor.
Advertisement

The plight of the startup marketer is having to get things done with a less-than-optimal budget.

However, this unfortunate fact gives B2B marketers like Jodie Ellis a license to experiment. It's allowed Ellis to take on a special title: head of experimental marketing at Optimizely, an enterprise A/B testing service. 

"I like making fun of the fact that a lot of people have these problems and challenges," Ellis said Thursday, at the FunnyBizz Conference in San Francisco. The event was themed around creating meaningful business content, especially the kind with a sense of humor. 

FunnyBizz drew an audience of about 200 people, many of them marketers who knew exactly what Ellis was talking about. And this empathy is what Ellis likes to play off of when executing some of his experimental marketing techniques. 

For example, Ellis revealed an interesting strategy around last year's annual Dreamforce event, a developer and user conference hosted by Salesforce in San Francisco.

The price point to do traditional marketing was high: At the very least, Optimizely could spend $20,000 to set up a tiny turnkey booth in a sea of other booths. 

It simply wasn't in the budget.

So Ellis decided to experiment with a cheaper but flashier way to get Dreamforce attendees' attention. He and and a few colleagues launched 20-foot illuminated blimp into the night sky above the Salesforce after party at AT&T Park. It cost less than $7,000. 

The blimp read. "Blimp ads don't work, website optimization does." 

"This is an experience we all have as marketers and content creators--how well is it performing?" Ellis said, explaining the message and the target audience. In effect, it was targeted at people just like him: members of a small startups that must constantly obsess over ROI.

In a further show of empathy, Ellis wrote up a tongue-in-cheek blog post explaining how you, too, can launch a blimp, ensuring that your brand makes an appearance at must-attend conferences for a fraction of the cost. 

"Listening up to the audience that you may be trying to address is really critical," Ellis said. And keep in mind, it's even better when this emotional connection is a funny one. 

Last updated: Jun 5, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: