With the advent of the 21st century, people have incorporated start-ups and entrepreneurs have found the most creative and innovative ways of marketing. Going out of the cliched marketing barriers, young entrepreneurs have adopted unique marketing agendas to advertise their products and services. Today in this article we will read and study about one such young talent whose start-up promotion techniques are as unique as his startup idea.

On 5th August 2018, Shankar Shekhar, the founder and owner of “Stoned Santa”, along with his intern Sanjay Nalamaru executed the most unique marketing programme for his startup. This guy went on to spend an overwhelming time of 40 hours on Banglore airport to convert 400 cab drivers into his marketing agents.

How it all began?

One night, Shashank was returning from office to home in a cab. On his way, he got into a conversation with the cab driver and told him about his startup. The cab driver, who was a door to door salesman in his past days, was famished by Shashank’s startup idea of selling people hand-made portraits of their loved ones. And he asked Shashank to adopt some never-before-seen techniques to promote his business.

As a result, he ended up convincing the driver to help him market his business. He took the driver’s number and took off happily.

From then onwards, Shashank went on to collect data from around 100 cab drivers that he met in the upcoming months. The data he collected helped him summarise a plan involving multiple cab drivers in his marketing campaign.

He decided that he would design a brochure and would place it behind the front seat. This way, the brochure will be right in front of the passenger’s eyes.

After collecting the statistics, he started performing calculations based on practical figures.

He though out of the 12 people who would sit in the back seat, at least 10 people will notice his brochure. Out of those 10, at least 5% of people would visit his website i.e. 1.5 people. And out of those who visit the website, 10% would signup for the hand made portrait gifts on the website.

So he narrowed things down like:

After deciding the various factors, he had mostly to focus on the design of the brochure. He knew he had to design a brochure that would catch everyone’s eye. Such that it would not only satisfy the requisite impressions but surpass the predicted statistics.

After hours of thought process and some good artistic skills, Artist Arpit Shukla rendered Shashank with a poster/brochure like this:

After the designing of the brochures, the main task was to convince the cab driver to help them market their brochures. Shashank thought that Banglore airport would be the best place to start as there will be multiple cabdrivers awaiting passengers over there.

The young entrepreneur knew that he would have to do a lot of talking and convincing to persuade the cab drivers. They took a cab to the airport with 800 printed brochures in their hands. They started their 1st session with the very cab-driver they were driving with. With a mixture of Hindi, Kannada, and English, the two guys started a conversation:

“Anna… Hi! I’m Shashank! My startup helps people find the right gift for their friends and family and we help spread joy and I’ve been doing this since college.

We work with artists who are still in school and college by providing them with a platform to earn and get recognized for their work.”

They had convinced their first marketing agent. After riding further, their cab driver, Sagar, noticed that they had a bunch of such brochures. He got curious about what they plan to do. Shashank told him about how he is targetting 400 cab drivers like Sagar for a similar purpose. He laughed and replied, “Cab drivers ka full support milega aapko, aap bahut acha kaam kar rahe ho”. (You’ll get full support from the cab drivers).

The reply of Sagar motivated them a lot. One down, 399 more to go.

They had reached the airport by 11.45 pm. The disappointment started as they were only a handful of drivers at that time at the airport. In the initial 3 hours, they managed to convince only 20 cab drives. It was tiring. They knew they can’t quit. So they hauled their campaign for a while to wait for more cabs to arrive. Their hopes served them right. At 4 AM in the morning, the airport parking was filled with cabs and soon the two boys were conversing with 4 to 5 drivers at a time.

But why would anyone be interested in marketing their business for free? So they offered the drivers a digital portrait of their loved ones. But as they say “Take a leap of faith and universe will hold your back.”. The cab drivers instead denied to take any consideration in return from the boys and agreed to do it as a gesture of kindness for them. After 40 hours of talking, conversing and jibber-jabber, and accepting rejections from around 250 cab drivers, they were live in around  400 cabs They knew their hard work has paid off. The feeling that they were having was overwhelming.

To ensure the success of the marketing programme, Shashank went on to write about this campaign on Quora. Within 48 hours of writing the article, it had been viewed by over 40000 people with 4000 upvotes. This sent another 1300 new visitors to his website.

This is the summary of campaigns overall cost and revenue:

The next 72 hours yielded him revenue to cover all his costs incurred. He was on a break-even point in 3 days time. This must have given him a lesson that he would cherish and share all his life. Not only the marketing agenda but coming to the generous faces of 400 cab drivers was a unique experience in itself.

Shiksha News wishes Shashank and his team a very big all the best for their business and congratulations on giving so many artists a stage and so many people happiness through his business.