(Special thanks to Sean Crowe and Thomas Gorczynski of Hacksmith Labs for their time and insight)
For many startups, social enterprises, and nonprofits guerilla marketing can be an effective strategy to drive word-of-mouth and engage their wider audience. with minimal marketing resources. Many job seekers and freelancers face the challenge of effectively marketing themselves in gig economy to avoid either total joblessness or potential underemployment.
I was fortunate enough to talk with Sean and Thomas about their work and gained insight into how some creative thinking can assist in building a reputation and drive business.
As self-taught web coders, Sean and Thomas had found themselves sitting in a crowded coffeehouse with a desire to find work. A Sitting with others in a crowded coffeehouse, they realized that there were many companies looking for coders. Since both Sean and Thomas were remote workers, they realized that other people were looking for developers...and their efforts came in the form of a sticker that announced I Code Hire Me.
For two years, they acquired work simply through using that sticker and trusting that it would help them gain work. (Of course, in our conversation they noted that having "the right sticker at the right coffee shop at the right time). For Sean and Thomas, that sticker reflects how they prefer to operate: personal, interactive, and establishing a connection with their clients. For Sean and Thomas, this has been a boon in helping them thrive in a field that they describe as "very competitive...but a large market."
Although their competition consists of the three top web development agencies, Sean and Thomas do not feel that Hacksmith Labs, a remotely-run boutique software agency focused on mobile and web app development. They describe Hacksmith Labs as the "leanest, meanest shop" that has developed over $250,000 in new business for companies such as Campbell’s Soup, RocNation, Budweiser and SoulCycle. Establishing an immediate, personal connection has not only allowed them to develop a client base but also build and foster a reputation for solving problems and building connections.
Part of building those connections has been "giving it back" and reaching out to those looking to shift into careers in web development. To that end, Sean and Thomas launched the I Code Hire Me podcast which focuses on people entering careers in web development. Many individuals teaching themselves coding through bootcamps or resources like Team Treehouse are looking for a job or career change. By highlighting these stories, the I Code Hire Me podcast is not only building a more immediate, personal connection with web development professionals, but also with those looking to make a change in the direction of their career.
Guerilla marketing for nonprofits, social enterprise, and other startups may appear intimidating, but it is really about finding the smallest action that leads to maximum effect. For Sean and Thomas, the realization that they needed to build a connection with their potential clients resulted in the smallest idea. The results of that idea were not just the client work they were seeking...but the start of a larger community.
After our discussion, I found myself thinking, Hey, in order for me to further my freelance work, I should adopt a similar tactic: find where my potential clients will be and place a sticker on my laptop:
As always, thanks for reading!