When it comes to getting customers’ attention, you’re up against a lot of competition.
Whether scrolling through social media or surfing the web, potential customers are inundated with marketing messages—so much so that many find ads off-putting.
Which begs the question…
As a marketer, how do you stand out?
The answer isn’t yell louder.
Instead, it’s to do something unexpected. Something so logical that you don’t know how you never considered it before.
Start a side project.
We know, we know. This idea goes against the “focus on one thing and do it well” rule.
But rules were made to be broken.
Okay, well, this rule was made to be broken.
The concept of bringing customers to your main business through the creation of side projects (aka, “side project marketing”) has a proven track record of success.
By simply putting the professional pictures they had taken but hadn’t used online and licensing them for free use, they managed to attract loads of traffic — 11 million visitors a month. This amounted to enough to keep the doors open.
The side project game is so useful, in fact, that we’ve jumped on board, too.
We made both of them to kinda explode by getting hunted on Product Hunt, with 1636 & 910 upvotes respectively.
If you’re interested in riding the Product Hunt wave for your side project, we have a comprehensive guide on how to do so.
And how do you make side project marketing work for your business?”
Here are our quick tips.
Don’t: Be Overly Complex
When it comes to your side project, you want something that solves a problem. Your goal is to catch the attention and provide a benefit to potential customers.
But don’t create something so different and so complex that managing your side project becomes your full-time job.
Their tool allows users to determine the current efficiency of their websites. The site also explains to users how their marketing could be improved — another service that Hubspot provides.
Not only did this free website grader earn Hubspot some goodwill with potential clients, it also landed the company some accolades. Most specifically, the side project was a finalist for an ad:tech award and took home a Webby from The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
Do: Use Inexpensive Tools
Not only is side project marketing effective, it’s also can be pretty easy to implement…with the right tools.
There are tons of tools you can use to transform the task of building your side project from exhausting to effortless.
Not only can brand new start-ups build websites to house their side projects quickly with options like Yola, Wix, and Squarespace, they can also use low- or no-cost buzz-building options like Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook and other free tools to launch their side projects.
Not only does using these tools make the process of setting up your side project easier, it also makes it less expensive — which means you’re not losing much if it ends up being a flop.
Crew.co exemplified this lesson, using Tumblr to initially launch their Unsplash project.
Tumblr was free.
It was easy.
And it was accessible.
Everything Crew.co needed to taste sweet, sweet side marketing project success. And it was the success they saw, quickly at that, with a huge spike in traffic at crew.co thanks to this Unsplash launch.
Do: Partner Up
One mistake we see companies make when launching their side projects (and why those side projects crash and burn) is because they tried to do it alone.
In Veed.me’s case, they turned to codersclan to help make the side project of their dream a digital reality.
Together, these two birthed the legitimately beautiful — and useful.
And this side project wasn’t just aesthetically stunning — it was also profitable. Coverr quickly reached 100,000 unique visitors and, even more beneficial, resulted in 1,700 new email sign-ups.
Don’t: Forget to Have Fun
If you want customers to like you… really like you… you need to have some fun.
Customers will form initial impressions of your company with how you treat your side projects.
You want those impressions to be positive. So perhaps consider content that’s engaging, adventuresome and quirky.
Think your business is so serious there’s no room for fun?
Well, try this on for size: How serious is cybersecurity?
Pretty darn serious, if you ask me.
Side note: What a clever little play on words you have there, Checkmarx.
Game of Hacks is a gamified hacking experience, allowing programmers to put their weakness identification skills to the test.
Did it work?
Launched like a bullet, accruing 35,000 players in the first 24 hours.
And as you would expect, gaining Checkmarx some serious attention.
Side Project Today, Growth Tomorrow
With so many businesses implementing a side project marketing plan — and it works oh so well for them — there really is confounding evidence that this type of marketing is worth your time and effort.
If you’re ready to move forward with side project marketing, remember to:
- Keep it simple
- Use the free and low-cost tools at your disposal
- Explore partnership opportunities
- Have fun
By doing these four simple things, you can make side project marketing easy and effective.
Because, really, a the end of the day, we question should be less “why are you doing side project marketing” and more, “why aren’t you doing side project marketing.”
We’ve boarded the train.
Why don’t you?
Side project marketing is your ticket.