T-shirts And Tacos – A Winning Guerrilla Marketing Combination

TestFlight logo

TestFlight’s mission is to reduce app developers’ pain. The company effectively leveraged this credo at Apple’s 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).  As Ben Satterfield, TestFlight’s CEO explains in the interview below, for the cost of some T-shirts and tacos, TestFlight was able to dominate the mindshare of many WWDC attendees.

As Ben points out, successful guerrilla marketing is predicated on creativity and clever execution, not a huge budget.

You can watch my four-minute interview with Ben below or on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/RzSrfTE87EY

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According to Ben, “Our main audience is developers and this is the one chance each year where all the iOS developers are in once place at one time. We wanted to do something that matches the spirit of TestFlight…getting rid of (developers’) headaches.” As such, Ben and his team set out to alleviate some of the pain associated with queuing up for the conference’s keynote speaker.

People routinely begin lining up at 2:00 AM to ensure a good seat. Per Ben, “So you’re out there freezing. You have to take turns to use the bathroom or get a coffee.” In short, it is a real pain.

TestFlight Shirts
Enter the TestFlight taco truck. The day before the keynote, while people picked up their badges, TestFlight employees handed out TestFlight T-shirts. If this was all they had done, no one at the show would have noticed their presence. However, TestFlight effectively linked their free T-shirts with the company’s goal of alleviating developers’ headaches.

As they handed out each shirt, they told the attendees, “If you wear this shirt tomorrow while in line to attend the keynote session, we will bring you breakfast.”

The next morning, Ben and his team showed up with a Food Truck, provided by Seoul on Wheels, tricked out with TestFlight’s logo. Using a bullhorn, they played Flight of the Valkyries, to reinforce their aeronautical theme and add to the festive nature of their stunt.

After handing out breakfast burritos to everyone wearing TestFlight T-shirts, the team then began giving shirts to anyone who had TestFlight installed on their phone, as well as attendees who agreed to Tweet about TestFlight. (FYI East Coast people, burritos are soft tacos.)

TestFlight Taco TruckThe result of their efforts was a convention hall full of TestFlight T-shirts, including a number of people in the front row and in full view of Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple’s senior executives.

Since the team had rented the truck for the entire day, that evening they parked in front of one of the convention’s largest parties and gave away four different types of Korean tacos to the folks waiting to get into the venue.

Ben summed up the T-shirt and Taco adventure as follows,
“It was a lot of fun. It was the one marketing move that actually jived with what we try to do as a company. It was a playful thing, a guerrilla tactic. It was doing a lot with a little.”

Most surprising of all, the owner of the Korean taco truck had previously used TestFlight when developing the app he uses to promote his business. From taco truck owners to the world’s biggest gaming companies…TestFlight is satisfying them all, one burrito at a time!

Note: Ben and his team would like to acknowledge the help of Roaming Hunger (roaminghunger.com) in pulling off their T-shirt and Tacos stunt. Roaming Hunger has created an app that allows users to track there whereabouts of food trucks.

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John Greathouse is a Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage, web-based businesses. Previously, John co-founded RevUpNet, a performance-based online marketing agency sold to Coull. During the prior twenty years, he held senior executive positions with several successful startups, spearheading transactions that generated more than $350 million of shareholder value, including an IPO and a multi-hundred-million-dollar acquisition.

John is a CPA and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. He is a member of the University of California at Santa Barbara's Faculty where he teaches several entrepreneurial courses.

Note: All of my advice in this blog is that of a layman. I am not a lawyer and I never played one on TV. You should always assess the veracity of any third-party advice that might have far-reaching implications (be it legal, accounting, personnel, tax or otherwise) with your trusted professional of choice.

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