Marketing Strategies:

Creative Marketing

Case Study:  Half.com

Out-Of-the-Box Buzz Marketing Strategy Produces Tremendous Results

By: Vadim Kotelnikov

Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach Inspiration and Innovation unlimited!

Adapted from Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff by Mark Hughes

 

   

"It is one one greatest publicity coups in history."

~ "Time" magazine

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Moving forward with buzz marketing philosophy, Half.com catapulted to the Top Ten list as one of the most trafficked retail sites on the Internet in less than a year, with budgets one-tenth the size of their competitors.

The entrepreneurs from half.com managed to grow their startup firm from zero to 8 million registered users in less than three years. They looked for an interesting way to launch their site and e-venture an amazing idea, something that would make people and the media talk about their site. They wished to use a buzzmarketing strategy.

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At first they hired an ideation company that suggested the usual wild ideas, such as releasing a large balloon from Mount Rushmore... These were not really the kind of things that would make people talk about half.com.

After some time, half.com's team came up with a really interesting out-of-the-box idea. Find a place that has the word "half" in it, and convince them to temporarily change their name to half.com. A brief search in the US list of names of places brought out Halfway, Oregon (population 350).

In early December 1999, a representative of the Half.com marketing team paid a visit to Halfway, Oregon to ask Mayor Dick Crow if the town would consider changing its name to Half.com, Oregon. Although skeptical at first, Mayor Crow conducted in some preliminary discussions with Half.com and decided to direct the matter to the City Council for further consideration.

The council eventually agreed to change the name, and this is what happened:

On Wednesday, January 19th, NBC's Today Show was broadcast live from Half.com, Oregon, and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, corporate headquarters of Half.com, Inc. as the company launched its web site. Millions of viewers and Internet users throughout the country and the world experienced the proclamation of the World's First Dot Com City and the new person-to-person business model presented by Half.com. It is a day the town will remember forever.

Before spending a single dime in traditional marketing, Half. com captured the attention of the media, and the Internet community. Time magazine called it "one of the greatest publicity coups" in history.

Twenty days after the launch, e-Bay called. Within six months Half.com was sold to eBay for US$ 300 million.

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