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Lead-Gen Content Marketing That Raises the Bar

It’s not everyday I get big UPS packages. When I opened a recent one, however, I was delighted and impressed to say the least.

The package was from SharpSpring, a marketing automation company that targets agencies like Elasticity. They sell us a group price for marketing automation tools that we can then use for any or all of our clients. Inside was an interesting set of gifts along with a wonderful little piece of content.

The inside of SharpSpring's package

The box contained a six-pack of Hank’s Gourmet Root Beer, six SharpSpring-branded bottle koozies and a very small purple T-shirt. The cover letter – a personalized, signed communiqué from founder Rick Carlson – was plain spoken and to the point: “If we’ve won you over with our shameless bribe … then please reach out … .“

This gift box was an attempt to simply get me to do a product demo with them.

But wait! There’s more!

Accompanying the letter was a one-page instruction sheet, comically written to show me how to place the root beer in the refrigerator, remove it when cold, place the koozie on and even use the purple T-shirt to open the bottle (to protect your fingers and hands from the sharp edges). It also had recycling instructions for the shirt, which included options to A) Wash your car; B) Use it as an oven mitt; or C) Make a hammock for your hamster.

And then there was the kicker: A WARNING call-out box at the bottom that said, “Do not attempt to use orange T-shirts for marketing automation purposes.” Orange is the primary color of at least one of SharpSpring’s competitors. Clever little dig, there.

Certainly many companies use gifts and gimmicks to get your attention. The ones that do often stand out. Why? Because, if done correctly, the gift box is a “holy smokes” moment. Here’s why this one worked:

  1. It was a gift almost anyone could appreciate. Sure, a bottle of bourbon might be more customized, but as the letter said, they elected to send root beer and avoid federal prosecution for shipping alcohol across state lines. (Legalities differ between states.)
  2. It wasn’t just a gift. The package included 3-4 items together with a story that explained each gift’s purpose, even if the purpose was a joke (like the T-shirt).
  3. It was engaging. Using humor and storytelling, SharpSpring pulled me in to really pay attention to the package and every piece of literature in it. As a result, I know more about them and what they do, and I am quite likely to want to see the demo.

There are gifts and there are well-thought pieces of content marketing that take the audience on a little journey. This package was the latter. Perhaps it can inspire your storytelling for your next pitch to a client.

One Response to Lead-Gen Content Marketing That Raises the Bar

  1. Jason, thank you for “getting it.” We have been a realtively small company that is now making big waves in the marketing automation space. We are approaching 400 agencies in ~20 countries that use SharpSpring to deliver MA to their many 1,000s of clients. Our success comes from building our entire business around marketing agencies. So who better than an agency to appreciate a good promo, right?

    In the sprit of full disclosure, you unknowingly pointed out a small mistake in our package to you. You should have either gotten a collateral sheet that referenced the purple shirt you received (representative of Marketo), or you should have gotten an orange shirt representing that “other company” whose name I cannot recall at the moment 🙂 The point is that the shirt and collateral piece in your package should have matched, as we did custom mailings based on the technology our research suggested you were using. In any case, you “get it” and I appreciate it.

    I can tell you that the promo is simply a representation of the hard work and creativity that we try to put into everything we do – not the least of which is the SharpSpring marketing automation platform itself. For us, the challenge is getting folks like you to see what we have to offer. Once that happens, people are generally blown away and join us. As such, we try to pull out all the stops to “say hello” with a bit of personality, knowing that if we get your attention and get you on a demo, we’ll likely become long time partners. I look forward to proving that later point to you in the near future. In the meantime, thank you again for being so receptive and taking the time to write about it.

    For your readers, at Sharpspring, we try to never do a promo where you can attach another company’s logo, and still have the promotion work and make sense. The promo MUST speak to our unique selling proposition (USP). In this case, nobody can say that they are “the perfect fit” for agencies like SharpSpring can, because we are the only platform built for agencies. Contrast this with a generic March Madness promo where any company can slap a log on the promo and the promo would still work. Are you saying anything with a promo like this? In short, IMHO a great promo (or sales pitch, or any other communication of any kind) should not only be attention grabbing, but should be 100% focused on what makes you valuable to your prospective clients. Ok, off my soapbox now 🙂 As you can tell, I live and breath marketing, and i appreciate when our work results in a connection like this, so thank you.


    Rick Carlson

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