Cathey Armillas, founder of PURA, came from the world of heavy, industrial equipment. As Marketing Director for a Northwest company called SSI, she was tasked with selling gigantic, multi-million dollar shredding machines to hairy-knuckled, no-nonsense, waste-management engineers. One could have argued that there was no room for wimpy things like love in this world. Just torque, gear ratios, and grease.
But Armillas did something counter-intuitive; she gave the hairy-knuckles a novel reason to come to her company. Her marketing strategy was simple but entirely unexpected. Every month on SSI’s site she’d feature a video of some familiar object being completely destroyed. One month it would be a refrigerator. Another a truckload of bowling balls. Once an entire car. The videos were hypnotic. In a short time, these Shreds-of-the-Month developed a following in the millions. Kids were passing the links around all over the world. The company was featured on the gaming channel G4, in documentaries on the Discovery and Science Channels, even on David Letterman.
The first reaction of SSI management and sales people was, “So what? None of these people are our customers. A teenage kid isn’t going to be buying a six ton shredder with his allowance. We need qualified leads!”
But Armillas said, “Stand back.”
That’s when something amazing happened. Even though the vast majority of hits on the Website did happen to be teenage boys, the sheer volume of traffic to the site dragged along with it qualified leads, and with them, sales. This broad popularity boosted SSI’s visibility to search engines, hauling them out of the Google Siberia of page eight to #1 on the list, month after month, and without paying for it. Hits on the site went from a few hundred a month to hundreds of thousands. So with all the teenage boys looking for the cool car destruction videos also came some of their dads; qualified leads who were looking for industrial shredders.
The program developed a huge following, and the relationship of SSI with its customers grew and solidified. Within three years the company had doubled its sales and had become the dominant company in a competitive category. It was all from this one, simple, marketing idea: give your customers something to like you for and they’ll return the favor. Show them you love them and they’ll love you back.
Cathey took this simple principle and founded PURA. She reasoned that what would work for industrial machinery would work just as well for hamburgers, hard drives, or hairspray. She called it “The PURA effect“.