There are times taking a risk most definitely works.
Grasshopper's virtual phone system, in which it markets specifically to entrepreneurs, isn't the sexiest of services to sell.
That's why the 8-year-old company has prioritized creating buzz for the company by using untraditional methods -- so much so that it has designated Jonathan Kay its "ambassador of buzz."
Competitors for a virtual phone system are "exactly the same," he says. "You don't differentiate by price or feature set -- you differentiate by becoming a voice in the entrepreneurial world."
Grasshopper's company name was originally GotVMail, but in May 2009, the company decided to rebrand itself. To increase awareness, the company sent 25,000 chocolate-covered grasshoppers to what it considered the 5,000 most influential people in North America. The strategy got tons of media attention, Kay says.
The company got even more attention when it decided to send a custom lime green bull (meaning a person in a plush costume) and matador as mascots for its brand, Chargify, to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas last year.
It got so much attention they got kicked out because paying sponsors were complaining of the buzz, Kay says.
"We just paid for plane tickets," he says. "If we had only bought tickets for the conference, we would have spent more money and gotten less exposure. The exposure we got for the price we paid was fantastic."
Kay was quick to note that while the company has used some extreme marketing tactics, it also does more traditional advertising.
"It's kind of the second hit. Traditional marketing is only so effective, but when you pair it with something else it makes the traditional marketing more effective. So we do both really," he says.