Launch a Movement, Not a Campaign

Examples how Slack, Uber, & GitHub grew with little marketing.


Successful companies create movements. They define a higher purpose and attract supporters who help advocate on their behalf. Think about some of the fastest growing companies today; Slack, Uber, and GitHub. Could they really achieve that growth without the help of people who believe in them? They don’t sell, they inspire people to change. They don’t market, they rally supporters who believe in achieving a common goal. They don’t provide a service, they provide an experience. Their users want others to experience the same feeling or results. They spread the word. This is why CEOs like Steve Cannon from Mercedes Benz believe “customer experience is the new marketing.”

Unicorn startups of today do this really well.

Slack — Email sucks. It keeps people too busy with unnessary communication. It’s inefficient and there has to be a better way. Slack users share and support that same vision. They want to eliminate unnessary emails the same way Slack does. The future of collaboration needs to be different to change the world and their marketing supports that. Their homepage is inspiring: “A messaging app for teams that put robots on Mars. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one of tens of thousands of teams around the world who are using Slack to make their working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.” Compare that to Flowdock’s positioning: “Chat & Inbox for teams. One place to talk and stay up-to-date.” Who would you rally behind? Slack didn’t have an elaborate email marketing campaign for their launch. They made the customer the epicenter of their strategy… they got people talking. Word of mouth was a primary driver in their growth. In two years, Slack became adopted at 30,000+ teams and worth $2.8 Billion.

“Every customer experience is a marketing opportunity. If you go above and beyond on the customer service side people are much more likely to recommend you.” — Steward Butterfield, Founder of Slack

Uber — On demand transportation. You’re waiting for a taxi? You shouldn’t have to. Everything should be on demand. Including when you want to work — choose your hours, make money on your spare time, and set your own schedule. That’s a set of beliefs and vision everyone can get behind. It’s a vision for the future. Why wouldn’t you be part of that movement and encourage others to do the same? The growth by word of mouth is simliar to Slack’s strategy. “According to Kalanick,Uber relies almost exclusively on word of mouth, spending virtually nothing on marketing. He explains, “I’m talking old school word of mouth, you know at the water cooler in the office, at a restaurant when you’re paying the bill, at a party with friends — ‘Who’s Ubering home?’ 95% of all our riders have heard about Uber from other Uber riders.” In fact, for every 7 Uber rides, word of mouth generates a new Uber user.” That. Is. Insane. If you combine all Uber rides in the past 5 years, the total distance is just over a round trip to Saturn. Uber is worth $41 Billion.

“Word of mouth is as much today’s growth engine as it was in early days. Uber doesn’t need to do traditional marketing to drive users…” — GrowthHackers

GitHub — Software should be shared and built together. This is where software is built. This is where a movement of people come together to propel open source code projects. Coding should be social. These beliefs have fueled their coding movement resulting in GitHub becoming one of the most important social networks for coders. Who doesn’t want to be part of that? Word of mouth was key to their growth. “Word of mouth comes from content, thoughtfulness, solved problems, and ease of use — in short, the whole experience of a product or service.” Github hosts 25 million software projects and is worth $2 Billion.

“Word of mouth means less work for you, more impact.” — Zach Holman, GitHub Engineer

What type of movement are you creating? Are you painting a vision that people want to rally behind?

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