Why the pandemic was the perfect time to start with side project marketing?

Stefan Herrebosch
Stefan Herrebosch

What is side project marketing?

If you ask yourself: ‘what is side project marketing’? This is the best way to explain it: it is like the free cheese you get at the supermarket, it is just the digital version of it. Because it’s the same effect, which is the reciprocity because you’re building small tools to help people. That builds on that reciprocity effect that they’re more likely to work with you afterward.  

Here you have some examples. Back in the days, Facebook was not that popular. There were not a lot of people that knew about Facebook or at least the advertising side. So when you were trying to explain back in the days, what a Facebook ad was, it was very hard for people to imagine how a Facebook ad would look like. So if you typed in “how does a Facebook ad look like”, the first results on Google showed up and there was something called ‘mockup generators’. If you opened the page you could actually visualise how Facebook ads would look like to clients. 

You could just download it, show it to the client. Nothing is for free, so you think to:  ‘What is going to happen? Am I going to leave my details here? Am I going to have to pay for this?’ 

What happens afterwards is the fact that when you were able to download it, you have to go to this landing page showing the company’s service. So it turns out they have software for Facebook ads. So you could just solve a single tiny problem that you are facing at the moment, showcase your mockup ads to your clients and actually also discover what the company service was all about without even realizing that this exists. 

Next example is the email signature from HubSpot. Which is a tool, a free tool to actually build your email signature.  So you give all the information and they will mock up and give you a beautiful design on how to make your email signature totally for free. What you’ll see is that you also have to give a few details. Well, in this case, because it’s your email signature, they are going to get a lot of data from you for a simple reason that you have to give them data. Otherwise, you can’t get the email signature, which is obvious.

In the second step, they’ll ask you how big your company is and if you do advertising at all, just to sent the data to the sales team so they can follow up the biggest leads and all the smaller freelancer that they might not want to go after, or at least spend resources on to go after. You’re just able to use it by just answering a simple question, but of course, you leave with leaving a bunch of data.  

So, if you look at the results of how many people are actually going to this page, you’ll see a bunch of things. You’ll see that they have about 16K traffic, just for people that want to generate the templates for the signature. They have about 2.8 ranking keywords for them organically, and they have about 2,600 organic backlinks. Just to that specific email signature, just because people love it. This is why also they’re linking towards it. Because it’s not a sales page, nobody links to sales page people link to something which is interesting or nice to have. 

Why start now?

There are many reasons why you should start now. If you look at the situation we are in right now, you will see that a lot of people are working from home. So a lot of people are going online, but because they have to go online, they have to use their laptops to communicate. 

So you’ll see that there’s a lot of eyeballs that are going up and that means that the supply of demand online is going up. There are more people heading online. That is a positive trend for people that are going to invest in digital marketing. 

The second trend you can see is that the demand for attention is going down because of lower digital investments. So there’s a lot of companies that are actually cutting down budgets for digital marketing. There is a very simple economical effect that is happening right now because the eyeballs are going up, the demand for attention is going down, which basically says that the price for distribution is there from going down. 

So basically if you would compare and you want to reach a thousand people online, you’ll see that before the crisis, it was actually more expensive and sometimes even up to four times to target the same exact people than what you would do right now. 

Now there’s a catch to this. The eyeballs are going up and the demand is going down, so the pricing is going down, which is super nice for us as marketers because distribution channels are open to grasp. But there’s an important thing that you have to know while we were in the crisis. Of course, the eyeballs are going up, but it does not mean that the intention to buy something is also going up.

So for some markets, of course, the demand is going up, but for most companies, it is not something that people are ready to buy right now, but you have to imagine that this crisis is not going to take forever. I mean, everybody has witnessed an economical crisis in 2008. It is something that is temporary. So after all, when our economy restores, people will need to buy something again, we’ve seen this through history all the time. 

So what is important to know for now? 

If you are going to start your campaigning right now if you’re going to start building site projects if you’re going to build something that is a value to people you’d have to change the angle of your campaigns. They might not be revenue-driven, but they might be helpful driven. In order for people to be aware of what you stand for and how you work and how you help them through the crisis. Whenever they are ready to buy after a crisis and the economy is stabilizing. So that’s an important thing to understand that because the pricing goes down, it doesn’t mean that your return on investment goes up. You need to change your angles for your campaigns during this crisis. So you can have the uplift after the crisis.