The only marketing WeHUB Messenger has done has been right on Penn’s campus.
The team behind the mobile app, which aims to be your go-to messaging tool, has plastered Penn’s Locust Walk with fliers. They hosted free drink nights for power users at Penn haunt Smokey Joe’s. They ran a treasure hunt for students that they say was wildly successful.
So has this decidedly low-tech approach been effective?
Though founder Hagen Lee said the app has 20,000 users, predominantly in the U.S. and South Korea, where the company’s dev team works, he didn’t have a definitive answer on whether the ground-level marketing had worked. That marketing style, he said, is in his bones.
“My motto is ‘Mileage makes a champion,'” Lee said, adding that the Germantown bedroom he rents with his cofounder, Robbie Stone, is covered in WeHUB T-shirts and fliers.
“The ground game is just as important, I feel,” he said.
According to him, it’s all part of building a brand “bottom up first.”
He’s not the only Philly startup that’s hitting the streets to acquire users. (It’s also worth noting that the rise in offline marketing also coincides with the rise of local consumer-facing startups.)
Here’s who’s also pounding the pavement:
- Delivery service goPuff advertises on University City District LUCY buses and sponsors events that use billboard ads.
- Laundry service Wash Cycle Laundry’s first major ad campaign featured ads on taxi screens, in and on SEPTA buses and on WXPN.
- DreamIt Ventures startup Pico went really old-fashioned and hung out at colleges to get students to download the app.
- Consumer startups doing multi-city rollouts, like Postmates and Tripda, get campus ambassadors to spread the word with fliers.
- RJMetrics also took to SEPTA’s Regional Rail with hiring ads.
For goPuff, which targets college students, the bus ads have had an “unbelievable impact,” said cofounder Rafael Ilishayev.
The team was inspired to buy ads by cofounder Yakir Gola’s father: he’s Joe the Jeweler (“Cash for Gold”) of many a SEPTA ad. Those ads have worked for him, Ilishayev said.
Ilishayev wouldn’t disclose how much they spent on ads but said that it’s “a lot less than what you would think.”
As for Pico, the team said their on-the-street strategy was about getting feedback. They dressed up on Halloween, gave out candy on Drexel’s campus and tried to get people to download the app on the spot. They also hit University of the Arts.
“We really believe in guerrilla marketing,” Mozer wrote in an email. “It’s very important to feel the crowd, even before you have a product live and by that save valuable time, and save some mistakes.”
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