UserMuse Goes to Hollywood, Sort of

Time to light a fuse under this startup rocket

We’ve learned our lesson.

Last week was a roller coaster here at UserMuse.

First, we tied the all-time worldwide record for direct-response marketing performance with a 100% conversion rate campaign. We were flying high, but then veered a little too close to the sun. The economics of our new strategy collapsed, and poof - our advertising revolution was over as quickly as it began.

Or was it?

There’s no crying in startups. You find out what a company’s made of when you hit setbacks, and this team has got the right stuff. We’re a little older and wiser now.

Time to double down.

In hindsight, digital marketing is a little…I don’t know…yawn anyway. It’s just been done so many times. And you can’t change the world when you’re stuck in the past. So this time, we decided to go where the real action is:

Time for a hipper, younger medium.

Daytime network television.

Down and Out Near Beverly Hills

The moment we decided to spread the UserMuse gospel on TV, we were thinking Hollywood right away. San Francisco might be a more logical place to promote a startup that lets people make money explaining how they use software to people who design software, but you can’t beat L.A. for hype.

And if we got to launch our acting careers in the process, even better.

We zeroed in on KTTV, Fox’s L.A. affiliate. As the home of the hugely popular Good Day L.A. morning show, it was to be our megaphone to some 4 million souls. Until we decided we could do better.

The tempting KTTV-LA morning lineup. Ultimately a red herring.

To be honest, we were a little worried that UserMuse’s message of building better software risked being overwhelmed by “sexier” Hollywood news. What do you do, for instance, if your ad runs on the same morning Alec Baldwin decides to maim a photographer? It’s not like you get your money back when someone else steals your news cycle. We’d be screwed.

So we pulled back. We were itching to light the fuse on this rocket ship but couldn’t find the right launch pad.

We soon found it in the great American west.

Cheyenne, let’s get some WOMPO

After resisting the siren song of Hollywood, we called the remnant advertising desk at Media Partners Worldwide in Long Beach.

Remnant advertising is sort of like the Salvation Army t-shirt bin for advertisers. It’s where you go to buy ad inventory no one else wants — billboards on empty highways, 3:00 AM spots on weird radio shows, and (if you’re savvy) under-priced TV ad space.

Our account rep turned us on to the jewel of the Great Plains: Cheyenne, Wyoming. With 91,000 residents, it’s the 354th most populous city in the U.S. But as the most densely populated city in America’s least densely populated state, it had “word-of-mouth potential” (WOMPO) written all over it.

Were we worried about brand association with Jerry Springer? Yeah, a little bit.

We opted for a 30-second “runner” ad. The network repeats runner ads several times throughout a five-hour window for an astoundingly low $50 or so.

Exposure throughout the day? Check. Multiple different audiences? Check.

Bring on the WOMPO.

We chose the 9 AM — 2 PM slot, which had some highbrow programming that we wanted to take advantage of (see photo). On top of that, we took a page out of the luxury car playbook and made the bold decision to target our ad to children.

As everyone knows, daytime television ratings are mostly propped up by kids who are home sick from school. By promoting the UserMuse brand to these sick children, we’d have an indirect-direct line to their parents who could sign up on our site.

Pretty slick, huh? Viral Marketing 101. Class dismissed.

So would schoolchildren see the value of a market research service for the enterprise software industry? Would they see how they too could someday make money on the side as an expert-for-hire? And would they tell their parents about it?

Cheyenne, Wyoming (shown at rush hour)

I mean…is the elevation of Cheyenne 6,062 ft?

(A: You betcha.)

The Creative Process

The infinite options are what make marketing such a challenge.

With recent high-profile misses like Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad (which is getting more media coverage than the situation in Syria), we thought it best to stick to the basics as far as creative direction.

Perhaps a sotto voce testimonial from a product designer who built a product the market wanted thanks to user interviews?

Or maybe a salesperson describing how she made some extra money by telling a product designers which features she didn’t like about Salesforce?

It all felt played out to us. Plus, if there’s one thing we know about marketing it’s that you tailor your voice to the local audience. Finally, we decided on an appeal to the frontier values of toughness and self-reliance.

Here’s a sneak peak (in case you’re in the 99.97% of the country outside the Cheyenne market area).

Nothing captures Wyoming toughness like a server just managing the hell out of system memory.

Mission A-C-C-O-M-P-L-I-S-H-E-D.

Let’s just hope the network bigwigs don’t freak out. We did get a little edgy with the story, in hindsight…

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