In this post, we bring to you this incredible story of PopSockets started by a Professor and an amazing journey from creating the product to selling millions of it through word-of-mouth marketing only.
You will see how only word-of-mouth marketing alone is helping to sell millions of this unique product .
THE BEGINNING – UNTANGLING HEADPHONES
Prof. David Barnett had a problem, which all of us might have faced. His headphones would tangle every time he put them in his pocket. So he went out to look for a solution. He went to the local store and purchased two buttons and glued them to the back of his phone. He used it to wrap his headphones to the back of the phone instead of putting them loose in his pocket.
He named his initial invention – PopSockets. PopSockets is a grip attached to the back of your phone, which allows you to hold your phone easier. It can also be used as a stand.
MAKING THE ACCORDION-LIKE FEATURE WAS THE HARDEST PART
David Barnett in his interview with Inc says, “I still remember when my friends laughed at me for having these ridiculous buttons on the back of my phone. That motivated me to develop a better version that would earn me more respect,”
According to the Inc interview, David Barnett ended up creating hundreds of variations, with over 60 rounds of prototypes, to find the best product. Making the accordion-like feature was the hardest part, since it hadn’t been created before.
STUDENTS DID NOT USE IT TO KEEP THEIR HEADPHONES UNTANGLED.
In the Inc interview, Barnett says, that he decided to give some prototypes to his students to get feedback on the product. He noticed his students actually used them to grip their phones instead of using it to keep their headphones untangled. That’s when he discovered his headphones ideas wasn’t the best use case and decided to create a standalone grip.
Barnett iterated from a basic idea of untangling headphones to an idea completely different. According to Inc, Iteration is what got him his success.
BEFORE I KNEW IT, A CROWD GATHERED AND MY BOOTH QUICKLY
PopSockets grips in USA Today (January 2015) was named among “the coolest tech you have to see”. But Popsockets started in 2012 and before being the coolest tech, David Barnett used word of mouth.
The Inc interview shares that, after Barnett launched his business a friend offered a small section of a booth at a trade show for a few hundred dollars, which was used to give away Popsockets for free.
David Barnett says that “Before I knew it, a crowd gathered and my booth quickly became the most popular booth at the show. I had no idea the demand would be so big. The show generated orders of over 20,000 PopSockets. I couldn’t believe it, “
THE BEST MARKETING IS LETTING THE PRODUCT SPEAK FOR ITSELF!
The trade show at which David Barnett gave free samples of PopSockets got him to let people try his product. Many big brands such as Maggi, Horlicks, have sampled products. There was not major advertising by PopSockets and the products incredible value got David Barnett 20,000 orders.
POPSOCKETS SOLD 35 MILLION UNITS & IS EXPECTED TO SELL OVER 60 MILLION UNITS IN 2018.
The case study of PoSockets demonstrates how getting people to try your product can be the best marketing in itself. According to marble head marketing, PopSockets are hot right now. And for good reason.
- They are an extremely functional tool for the one thing that most people never leave home without. Your mobile phone
- Your branding and/or messaging is front and center. A lot!
- They’re relatively inexpensive.
- They are also light enough to “pop” (sorry I couldn’t resist) in an envelope and mail.
POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA & INFLUENCER MARKETING
You might be wondering now how PopSockets from 20,000 orders reached 35 million in 2018 and is now expected to achieve over 60 million in sales. The answer is very simple. David Barnett decided to use social media to grow the business.
David in an interview in 2016 with Daily Camera said that “social media is a huge driving force for their sales. They did a marketing partnership with YouTube star, Jenna Marbles, where she designed her own line and followed up with a partnership with another YouTube star, CutiePie.”
YouTube star Jenna Marbles and CutiePie are huge influencers and have a good loyal following. Placing the product i.e. PopSockets with them and getting a custom line designed for them helped PopSockets reach where it is today.
By now you realize that having a unique product and placing it with influential people on social media can drive a lot of sales. To get started it is important to sample the product.
In the case of PopSockets, we see how Word-Of-Mouth became a huge driver in generating more awareness and eventually higher sales for the company. Its growth in the last couple of years is a testament to the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
Word-of-Mouth marketing is not just about sampling the product. PopSockets launched an online store and started selling through the store. It drove a lot of organic visitors and the brand quickly became popular. The most important thing about Word-Of-Mouth marketing is having a unique differentiated product. Once you have it, you won’t have to invest on advertising in growing your business.