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Piggybacking marketing. It's silly to market alone.

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

Imagine this...

Your marketing budget is cut by 90%.

Your headcount is cut by 90%.

The total time you have to show results is also cut by 90%.

How would you grow? How would you grow 10x?


The best marketing strategy is the lazy man's marketing strategy.

When you're broke and have the clock against you.

Never market alone.

Find someone else to market for you.

Find a horse to ride.

When that horse gets tired, go find another horse while this one takes a break. Climb that mountain. Then another.

A marketing team of 1 can't do a lot alone. You are more likely to dump all your budget or waste a ton of time.


Piggybacking in marketing

Start by answering these questions:

  1. Who might be incentivized to promote you? How do you get them to promote you?

  2. Who is not incentivized but isn't disincentivized either? How do you get them to promote you?

Add as many options as you can.

Then, rank them all on opportunity, effort, and scalability.

When that's done. You have a fine list. ⭐


Types and Examples of piggybacking:

1. Piggyback on indifferent platforms

Zynga piggybacked on Facebook. Airbnb piggybacked on Craigslist.

This is a channel partnership where Craigslist wasn't incentivized but wasn't disincentivized either. Likewise for Facebook, for a while. [2]

2. Piggyback on the founder or thought leaders.

Reforge got acclaimed as the best growth courses out there because it was promoted by Andrew Chen (thought leader) and Brian Balfour (founder story). They hire the best operators, and piggyback on their authority. Operators let them, because they receive industry recognition that fuels their personal brand. [1]

3. Piggyback on celebrities without paying them.

Covers help audiences recall popular songs and changing lyrics helps him show his true skill.

Twitter ran the "If you can dream it, tweet it" campaign.

4. Piggyback on history

You can even piggyback on history. Piggyback on dead people. On monuments. On literally any historical moments that can evoke emotions and capture attention. Cafe Madras was established pre-independence era, and that's what they piggyback on. The food is unparalleled too (the best breakfast of my life).

5. Piggyback on governments and new policies

You can piggyback on a new government law. Clean energy laws. International trade. India's richest families piggybacked on new govt. policies. Find an opportunity even if that's Afghanistan.

6. Piggyback on macro-economic trends

You can piggyback on a macro-trend like the pandemic. That's what Shopify did.

You can do this on a smaller scale with moment marketing. Oreo's dunk in the dark tweet came out when the lights went out at the Super Bowl for a minute.

7. Piggyback on objects

Ever played the game: name, place, animal, thing. You can even piggyback on a fruit.

8. Piggyback on people even with interceptions

You can piggyback on other people, via 3rd party platform. Lenny's Newsletter saw this massive growth after Substack released their recommended newsletter feature.

9. Hey! You can piggyback off of your employees too.

Instead of simply providing accounts to reporters and tech media outlets, Google decided to try a different approach for the rollout of Gmail. The company gave its employees special "invitation tokens" that they could use to bring their friends into the beta testing phase.

10. You can piggyback on your own marketplace too.

That's what Lyft, the ride-sharing startup did to launch in 24 markets at once. I have a case study here.

11. Piggyback on other ad campaigns, or on an entire product line.

Oreo piggybacked on one of the world's famous ad campaigns "Got Milk?" and changed its tagline to "Milk's favorite cookie" so that milk created a trigger moment for Oreo. When Oreo outgrew milk, they piggybacked on the entire desserts menu range.

12. Piggyback on the enemy

  • Salesforce: When they launched, Salesforce ran a campaign against software

  • Transferwise: Campaigned against egregious bank transfer fees

  • Dollar Shave Club: Challenged the expensive razor oligopoly

  • Uber: Rallied against waiting for taxis (and the industry fought back, giving Uber millions in free publicity)

13. Piggybacking on your customer

Unity, which is the world's #1 software tool to build 3D games, saw their biggest ever surge in user acquisition when Pokémon game went viral. Everyone noticed which tool Pokémon used to build and jumped to sign up. It was incredible.

Miro, the online whiteboarding software, has this concept called MiroVerse which is a way for customers to create templates and share. One of Miro's customers created a Fifa template during the world cup. That alone had 120k downloads, and started to get shown in the first page on Google when people searched for Fifa World Cup.

Coca Cola has "Share a Coke" campaign that's basically a referral marketing scheme at scale. If I told you Coca-Cola's sales in Australia increased ~7% in 2011 you'd probably guess they changed the taste or the price. Nope. They simply replaced their logo with 150 of the most popular teenage names and encouraged people to “share a coke”.

14. Piggyback on another product your customer uses

Figma and Mixpanel both share the same audience of "Product Teams". Figma and Mixpanel's integration is a triple win (for the user, Mixpanel, and Figma). Mixpanel piggyback's off of Figma's inherently multi-player use case. Figma increases user engagement because it brings important metrics right into the product. This helps companies drive a culture of data.

Even though Dropbox depends heavily on word-of-mouth growth, it’s huge for it to be installed on every Samsung phone

Channel partnerships is why Coca-Cola locked down McDonald’s for many years. It's a huge distribution partner for Coca-Cola.

Bira 91 (beer company) partnered with boAt (headphones) to launch ‘BOOM’, a limited-edition collection of audio devices and a new range of bold beer.

Read more about channel partners in this blog post.

15. Piggyback on famous people without paying them

Surreal cereal brand couldn't afford celebrities, so for this campaign they found real people (bus drivers, students) with celebrity names to try out their cereal and give them good reviews.

16. Piggyback on a country

When Spain's digital nomad visa was finally available, Remotive shared the news, earning over 28k likes on a single Linkedin post (which is very high for Linkedin). They are a remote job aggregation portal.

Think about who can you piggyback off of? The possibilities are endless.

As long as you aren't marketing alone.

Choose the route that will lead to a 10x growth with 90% less budget.

Choose a route that is scalable.

Your host needs to have an audience. If they don't, find another host.


Khushi Lunkad

Copyright notice: Remember to credit and link back to my website if you use this material. I find patterns and bucket examples in different categories so we can better understand piggybacking as a concept.


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