Competing against the big guys and getting noticed

December 1, 2010


What do you do when a competitor can simply outspend you? Get creative!

A month ago, we had the challenge of creating a stand-out experience at the Paypal Innovate Conference, where there would be lots of other companies with bigger budgets than our own (ie: a slew of ordinary yet expensive trade show booths). This is a challenge when you’re a smaller company trying to be noticed when rubbing shoulders with Microsoft or Oracle (if only we could fill our booth with Xboxs). So instead of trying to outspend and compete directly with our competition at the conference, we changed the rules.

This was accomplished by not having a booth at all but rather a stand…and not just any stand but a Banana Stand…and not just any Banana Stand but an almost exact replica of the Bluth Frozen Banana Stand from the TV show Arrested Development.

This idea not only changed the rules but created a two fold connection to people. Those who were fans of the TV Show made an automatic connection and got very excited by the stand, took pictures, told their friends and more importantly had a good time. Those who hadn’t heard of the show still appreciated the spectacle of the stand (big, yellow and hard to miss) and obviously enjoyed the shot of potassium that they got from the over 1000 free bananas (with FreshBooks Stickers on them) that were given out as part of the Bluth experience. Interestingly enough, our bananas were the only fresh fruit at the conference so they were an instant hit.

But it isn’t a real hit unless it can be related to FreshBooks in an understandable way. In this case, the banana stand represented a (very) small business that needs to get paid – simple and clear. And for Arrested Development fans, the entrepreneur George Bluth Sr. always says, “there’s always money in the Banana Stand,” reinforcing our message.

This cheap and cheerful idea was popular with the people at the event and resulted in a considerable amount of attention (online and off) so we were talked about a lot more than the big guys. It also simply said that FreshBooks is a great way to get paid faster!


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.