Growth February 12, 2020

We worked remotely on top of a U-Haul

Vivek Nair @viveknair

Hey IH folks -

I thought that I would share a recent PR stunt that we tried last week to promote our remote work product Pragli, a virtual office for remote teams. Might be valuable information for other indie hackers.

Long story short, we worked remotely on top of a U-Haul 🚚

Here’s the full article, but if you're short on time, here's the tl;dr summary below 👇

Motivation

We've been building and marketing Pragli for the last 9 months as a bootstrapped company. As a new startup, we spend a lot of time experimenting with different marketing strategies. This was our first attempt at a “PR stunt.”

Our decision making process wasn't too complex. Doug and I spent some time generating a list of different stunt ideas and got super excited about working on top of a U-Haul in a busy area.

Preparation

We decided to rent a 10’ U-Haul and designed Pragli banners that would fit exactly on the side of the truck.

We used a 30’ ratchet tie-down with a 15’ strap extension to surround the perimeter of the U-Haul. Once we firmly secured the banners, we were ready to start the stunt.

Stunt execution

We parked the U-Haul at 7 AM in South Park, San Francisco. The location has a decent number of technology influencers with large follower counts, and we hoped that they would tweet the truck and that the stunt would go viral.

Everyone who passed by definitely noticed the stunt and a few started conversations with us. But, the foot traffic wasn’t great, and we switched locations at 1 PM to a higher density area in SoMa.

More people noticed the stunt in the new area, but the impressions weren’t directly translating into product sign ups.

When the clock struck 3 PM, we decided to take the truck to different landmarks in San Francisco and take pictures of us working on top of it. We figured these would be valuable for future email and social campaigns (like the cover photo in the linked blog post!)

Investment for the stunt

Cash investment: $535.22
Time investment: 34 hours

We estimate that we can reduce these investments now that we have most of the materials/knowledge for setting up the U-Haul.

Cash investment for next time: $139.32
Time investment for next time: 14 hours

Spreadsheet with costs

Takeaways

🥁🥁🥁🥁

Our original hope with the stunt was that people would tweet us working on top the U-Haul, and the stunt would go viral. Viral interest would then translate into product sign ups.

Sadly, that didn't happen. But, we got a healthy bump in impressions on Twitter and LinkedIn that increased our follower count.

Twitter impressions: 1,500 video impressions
LinkedIn impressions:  2,261 video impressions
Sign ups: no significant uptick on Friday

Even though the stunt didn't go viral, we received so much positive feedback about it that we do believe there's a way to execute the stunt that generates more virality. Here are a few modifications that we would make:

1. Notify influencers/press outlets beforehand
2. Target a high foot traffic area (e.g. Salesforce Tower), not influencer density (e.g. South Park)
3. Make it more funny or ridiculous: One idea we have is to rent a U-Haul trailer and put a standing treadmill desk on it... But more work to do on that front. 🙃

General sentiment

Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of doing this stunt was my mindset shift. I feel more willing and excited to experiment with out-of-the-box distribution methods. 🧘🏽

And besides, I had a s%$t ton of fun working on this! I'm sure the second time around will be even more fun.

Reach out!

Let me know if you have any questions about how we did this! Would love to help out other indie hackers with their stunts.

Full article link again, including a ton of pictures/video!

  1. 2

    Ah, this is fun. Would be interested to read how round 2 goes or any other stunts you try.

    Along the "work from anywhere" theme, maybe push the concept a bit more to the extreme?

    I'm thinking strapped to an office chair suspended between two buildings, or rig up the uhaul with a wax-doll on the roof and drive it down the highway so it looks like someone is working up there.

    Obviously take the appropriate safety precautions. Just has to look crazy not be crazy.

    I think for a PR stunt to really land it has to be outrageous and start some arguments.

    1. 2

      Haha funnily enough, we thought of putting a fake human on the top of it! We didn’t evaluate it seriously enough but that would probably work pretty well!

      Maybe drive it through midtown manhattan next time 😂