When most people think of virtual phone systems (if they think of them at all) they probably don’t think of them in turns of grasshoppers. They do now – thanks to David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos, co-founders of Grasshopper. These guys have been making it easier to start and grow your small business since 2003. Back then, they started out with a mission to empower entrepreneurs with their first product, the virtual phone system, and they did just that – serving nearly 100,000 entrepreneurs and still growing.
Back then they were called “GotVMail”. They had an idea “Empower Entrepreneurs to Succeed”…and virtual phone systems for small businesses were the first step. GotVMail was descriptive, but limiting. They needed a brand that would connect with their core purpose – to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Hence the transition to Grasshopper, an insect which can oddly leap nearly 20 times its size and is always on the move. The Grasshopper brand would allow the company to be THE brand for entrepreneurs. Future plans have Grasshopper creating 3 to 4 new products a year which simply solve everyday problems for entrepreneurs. They are not creating something new, rather helping fix a recognized problem. Now’s there an idea?!?!
What really impressed me about Grasshopper, besides their really cool products, was the way they re-branded themselves. As someone who has branded and re-branded some pretty well-known brands, I know that this is not an insignificant task. What these guys did was clever, effective and fun. A great combination for any marketing campaign. Basically, they identified 5000 influencers and FedEx’d them all 5 chocolate-covered grasshoppers. No cover letter. No explanation. Just a link to a website with a must-see video.
The campaign went viral – the holy grail for a marketing campaign. YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter were all humming with Grasshoppers. During the campaign, the team at Grasshopper began receiving hundreds of unsolicited videos and images of people eating the grasshoppers, or trying to convince others to do so. This user-generated content provided the impetus for the final leg of the campaign: using the “buzz” to pitch to news outlets across the country. By providing examples of what other people had done with their shipment of grasshoppers, the folks at Grasshopper were able to entice four news anchors to eat the grasshoppers live, on air – don’t you just love that!
Grasshopper executed a flawless campaign. They got tons of coverage and visibility. But here’s the thing – they connected the brand to their core purpose – empowering entrepreneurs to succeed. If you want to build a brand for your business, this is how to do it.