01 Sep Why Ryver Runs Negative Ads Against Slack
Why do they do this?
First, it’s true. Retailers’ markup on mattresses is huge.
Second, Tuft & Needle sells a mattress that is technically superior and much cheaper than anything you can buy at any store.
But most of all, mattress retailers are the sworn enemy that Tuft & Needle has set out to destroy. To do so, T&N must attack the method by which consumers have been purchasing mattresses for a hundred years. To make their point, T&N has to publicly bash and shame their competition. It’s the only way to shock consumers out of the complacent status quo.
It’s noisy out there. The absolute best way to get noticed is to be controversial. Our brains are wired to pay attention to conflict.
At Ryver, we run ads that directly attack Slack for very similar reasons. Our ads outrage the Slack fanboys. And you know what? We love it! Every time someone publicly objects to our ads, Ryver gets better known. Our ads accomplish everything we had hoped.
Only the fanboys get their knickers in a bunch. Normal people don’t get upset. Why? Because we don’t actually run terriblyoffensive ads (in fact, we respect what Slack has done, and we’ve said so publicly). The worst ad we run merely says, “Slack is so last year,” which is accurate – it was the hot startup in 2015.
Why do we keep running that ad, despite the occasional social media potshots ranging from snarky platitudes to frothing fanboy rage? It’s simple: That ad outperforms every other ad we have tested 5 to 1. When we relay this simple fact to the fanboys, they say we’re lying. Erm… ok… then we’re doing it… to waste money, week after week, because the ads don’t perform well? Twitter even tells us that the ad is three times more effective than their average ad.
The funniest angry Tweets from Slack fans go something like this: “These guys piss me off. I’ve never clicked on a Twitter ad before, but I had to know what Ryver was.”
When we launched Ryver, Slack had already become a phenomenon, growing at an explosive rate. It is a very good product. Ryver is just as good in most ways and better in some important ways. But we were over 18 months late to the party. We had to find a way to get noticed in a marketplace where it seemed several articles a day were being written about Slack. The best way to draft off their success was to attack them directly. Even though it made some people angry our ads are controversial but truthful.
Marketing is war. You are fighting for your company’s life, by way of attention and sales. If you aren’t willing to go to war,
you might as well surrender and go home and knit cat stuff for Etsy.
The best way to attack a competitor is to find their soft underbelly and tear it to shreds with tooth and claw. Ideally, it’s something they are not able to change in response to your attack. Slack’s soft underbelly is their pricing model. They hook people with a free tier that amounts to a crippled trial for any real team of any size. You can use Slack for free as long as you are willing to live with huge limitations:
- Slack only lets you see and search the last 10,000 messages. Over that you get a message saying “tough luck but there are messages we are not going to show you.” Ten thousand might sound like a lot, but it’s only about 2-3 weeks of messages for a team of 10 people.
- You are limited to 5GB of storage. If you send a lot of files you can easily exceed that. Slack’s answer? “Start paying or your files are toast!”
- Slack doesn’t let you have any guests. Team Communication only works when you include everyone who need to be part of the discussion. To avoid paying you cannot include anyone from outside your organization.
- In order to make Slack really work, you must pay them $8 or $15 per user per month. Slack is touted as the replacement for email. But can you imagine how few people you’d email if you had to pay for their email account? When Team Communication costs money, people use it differently. That’s why we made ours free.
Ryver has NONE of these limitations. Ryver is entirely free. We give away what Slack charges a lot of money for.
“Free” is controversial. You say the word, and people assume you’re ad sponsored (we’re not). Or they think you don’t understand business. People Tweet “Hey Ryver, you have to charge money if you are going to survive!” My response? “Oh really? I never thought of that!” The answer is simple: We’re a freemium model. We offer Ryver Team Communication for free and we will be charging money for add-on products such as a Task Manager. Slack is also a freemium model. The difference is that their free tier is a crippled product whereas our free level is a full product without limitations… unlimited users, data, guests, search history, etc.. We’ll charge money to turn on powerful new products that work synergistically with Team Communication, whereas Slack charges money to uncripple their base product.
If we had we run the same boring ads most companies run, we would never have garnered anyone’s attention. Getting noticed is all that matters. The first 60 days was pretty brutal. We had to have a thick skin. You’d think we were calling people’s babies ugly! But then, as more people started trying our product, we started to see Ryver defenders emerge organically. From out of nowhere, users started tweeting, “I tried Ryver and it is really good! We switched from Slack.”
We haven’t yet become the phenomenon that Slack has, but we are starting to get serious traction, tons of trials. Perhaps even more exciting is our retention. With SaaS products, it’s considered really good if 5% of the people trying you out keep using it. We’re currently seeing 12%. I suspect that Ryver is now the third best-known brand in the new category of Team Communication. In less than nine months! Could we have done this running plain vanilla ads? Not likely. We’ll keep running them as long as they keep performing so well.
Here is marketing expert Jay Baer talking about our approach. He asks the question, “Is this the best webpage ever?” I don’t know if it is the best ever, but our approach works and that’s all that matters.