Is the Future of Showrooms a Taco Truck?

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by Rishi Shah on March 20, 2013

The Showrooms | Gorilly

Everyone is going online these days and not even thinking about having a physical presence. It is cheaper, faster, and something you can start in a day!

Your Product in Human Hands

The hard part is still getting people to discover your product. Distribution is king! You can do online marketing … but what if you just need to get your product in the hands of people to really appreciate the awesomeness of it? This strategy worked for Apple (which is why they opened physical stores 12 years ago in 2001!).

First Apple Store

 The first Apple Store at Tysons Corner Center – Opening Day in 2001

I was walking past my favorite coffee shop in San Francisco and happen to come across the Gorilly Marketing truck. Think Taco Truck meets Online Stores. This is perfect for everyone that doesn’t have Apple like Cash to start opening stores in malls (i.e. everyone).

The Gorilly guys converted their truck into a showroom for Dodo Case – this way potential customers can check out their awesome iPad cases. Customers can now try out a product before ordering it online. The business also benefits by building brand awareness in high traffic areas.

I took a quick interview with one of the founders on my iPhone, I was super awkward and you may cringe.

Dodo Case Showroom Inside Truck

Gorilly Showrooms Dodo Case - Pic 1

Showroom on Wheels (Rain or Shine)

Showroom on Wheels

Future of Showrooms?

So, do you think this the future of commerce, a bunch of trucks driving around pimping online products? I’d really like to get your opinion on this. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

PS Their name is super clever because it is a play on Guerilla Marketing


I’m addicted the the Subway Surfers iPhone game – have you played it yet?

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by Rishi Shah on March 12, 2013

Quick shout out to Vasu Vadlamudi who provided a lot of the great insights below. Vasu was previously at Zynga and now at Delectable. If you are into wine, download his new app - you will love it!

Subway Surfers Game

Everyone I know is addicted to Subway Surfers. Me, my 5 year old cousin, my mom, and the parking lot attendant at the mall. It’s nuts!

I found myself playing Subway Surfers more and more and then I realized why. They are amazing at Game Mechanics!

Game Mechanic #1: Easy to Learn

Lets start off with the core game, it is extremely easy to learn but really hard to master. Similar to golf. This makes it easy for anyone to start playing and enjoying in a matter of seconds. The game gets faster and faster so for more experienced players the game remains exciting and challenging.

Missions Subway SurfersGame Mechanic #2: Missions

The game has fun missions that keep on changing as you advance. These missions actually teach you how to get better at the game, the first few are super easy and make you feel good about yourself because you can pass them at the first go. You start saying things like this “I’m awesome at the game, maybe this is what I’m destined to do with my life!”

Game Mechanic #3: Coins

Just “having coins” is kind of a mechanical thing. It is the way Subway Surfers designed and implemented their coins system that makes it feel really meaningful to collect. Games that implement a currency well succeed because they either

a) make it so that every time I play actually helps me out with the other times I play (ex. coins I earn today, I can use tomorrow – so I am investing and also excited about the promise of learning or doing new things in the future) or

b) they give me an element of strategy and choice (when should I use my precious coins? on what? how much should I even FOCUS on the coins vs. just surviving).

Leaderboard - Subway Surfers

Game Mechanic #4: Leader-boards

They give you 5,000 coins if you connect to Facebook. That is a lot of coin, on average I collect 200 coins each play so connecting to Facebook is pretty heavily incentivized.

This makes a lot of sense though. A Leaderboard allows you to compete against your friends. One of my cousins was up until 6am playing the game because his friend overtook his high score. (Just in case you are curious he wasn’t able to beat his friend’s high score and is now accusing him of buying coins)

This also adds a viral component to the game, you can easily share your score on your Facebook timeline which serves as a personal endorsement for your friends to download the game.

multiple upgrades - subway surfers

Game Mechanic #5: Multiple Upgrades

All gadgets can get even better. For example the JetPack allows you to fly for 30 seconds, but if you upgrade the jet pack last for a few more seconds. There are 5 levels of upgrades and each level costs more coins. For example level one is just 300 coins, level 4 upgrade is 10,000 coins. The beauty of this is right after you upgrade is you see a dramatic difference which makes you addicted. All of a sudden you start becoming focused on collecting coins and start thinking of ways to collect more coins. You realize that 10,000 coins is going to take you 10+ hours to, so you decide to take a quick short cut and just buy 10,000 coins for $4.99.

Yutani Subwar Surfers

Game Mechanic #6: Collectibles

The game never gets boring. Their is a lot to discover and use. Every few plays you get a mystery box and when you get lucky you can get a spaceship or guitar. I’m not a big gamer but for some reason I really want that spaceship!

Now, getting that spaceship seems next to impossible when you run the numbers. Every 5 game plays I get about 1 mystery box and every 5 mystery boxes I get 1 spaceship card. In order to actually get a spaceship I need to collect 500 spaceship cards. This means I need to play the game at least 12,500 times! As sadly as this sounds this makes me want the spaceship even more!!!! So rare and unique, I must have it.

Daily Challenge - Subway Surfers

Game Mechanic #7: Daily Play Bonus

The Subway Surfers team wants you to play everyday… they don’t want to be a “One-Play Wonder”. They have their own type of loyalty program if you play 5 days straight. This alone makes you want to launch and play the app on a daily basis.

Game Mechanic #8: Daily Missions

Along with daily play bonuses they have new daily missions. These missions make me want to play first thing in the morning, similar to my addiction to coffee. The daily missions also vary from the regular ones? It gives the user a different experience to look forward to (but not too different, after all they fell in love with the game as it exists for a reason).

Tony - Limited Time Only Subway Surfers

Game Mechanic #9: Limited Time Only Items

You can change your character to different people. This is a lot of fun, I’m not really sure why but it just is. Anyway, they have limited time only characters. This means you have to buy coins if you can’t earn 100,000 coins in 2 day period.

Game Mechanics or Just Good Game Design?

A lot of the mechanics I observed are actually broader than just a game mechanic – they are hallmarks of good game design.

Yes, it’s true. I love Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers is one of the coolest games I have seen and their use of Game Mechanics is executed brilliantly.

These mechanics don’t interfere with the core fun of the game, a lot of them serve to actually ENHANCE it (leaderboards!) or at least make sure that more people get a chance to try out this great game. To me at least it’s always a little sad to see a great product that doesn’t bring as much joy to the world as it could have because not enough people ever saw it.

Do you think Game Mechanics are good or bad? I’d love to know your opinion in the comments below.

PS If you are wine connoisseur or a wanna-be wine connoisseur YOU MUST download and try Vasu’s new iPhone app.


Simple Plan to Find a Business Partner

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by Rishi Shah on February 26, 2013

Steve Jobs and Woz

Here is a simple plan that can help you find a technical business partner.

3 Fundamental Principles You Must Know First

  1. Come to terms with the fact that no one wants to work for your idea
  2. Understand that everyone you talk to is in love with their own ideas
  3. Embrace the concept of helping others and don’t expect anything in return

Now, Follow this Plan

  1. Meet some technical people that are working on their own side projects. These types of people are everywhere. Your current job, online, at hackathons, conferences, etc.
  2. Tell them you want to help them get their first 20 customers
  3. Get their side project some customers! Feel free to use some of the marketing tactics you have learned on this blog
  4. Once you get their side project some customers they will have tremendous respect for you. You have just done something they have been struggling with… turning their side project into a real business with customers!

This is a simple plan to help you find ambitious people to work with.


Don’t kill the Viber app

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by Rishi Shah on February 5, 2013

Don't Kill the Viber App Screen

I thought this was a great sales copy! The viber app shows me a screen and reminds me to not kill their app (this was the first screen I saw after I relaunched their app).

What I liked about it was they got inside my head. The addressed my biggest misunderstanding which was that I thought the viber app would drain my battery. Nice work Viber team!


How to Get Thousands of People to Show up at a Mall in Japan

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by Rishi Shah on February 1, 2013

Diver City Mall Robot in Tokyo

Need a million people to show up to your mall? That’s easy! Build a 60 Foot Robot that moves and talks. This got me and my wife to go check out the Diver City Mall in Tokyo, Japan.

To show you how big it is, above is a picture of me next to the Robot’s foot. Along with being massive, every few hours their is a show where he moves and talks. It was amazing and I was really glad I fell into this marketing tourist trap.

This reminds me of a small town called Soap Lake in Washington, USA. The town of Soap Lake was dying and they had to come up with something quick to attract people.

So, They decided to build the worlds largest Lava Lamp as a tourist attraction. It is 52,000 pounds in size!

What was your favorite tourist trap and how did you get suckered in? Let me know in the comments.


Email growth hack: 4 Tips to Increase Engagement in Your Email Newsletter

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by Rishi Shah on January 22, 2013

This guest post is by Elizabeth Yin, CEO and co-founder of LaunchBit and, an ad network for high quality email newsletters.

Email marketing is one of those activities you’re told to do, but you never really know how to do it effectively to increase engagement and/or sales for your company. Here are 4 tips to increase engagement in your email newsletter:

1) Assess exactly what you need to improve | Infographic | Infographic-1 | Infographic-2

There are so many different email stats you could be improving — your open rate, your click-through-rate, etc… Trying to improve all of them is too difficult and time consuming. Get a free assessment of your 2012 email communications with the Email Newsletter Report Card to see specifically where and how to improve. Check out what a full sample report card looks like here.

2) Optimize your layout for engagement

Email layout is one of the most ignored aspects of email marketing. Marketers spend far too much time thinking about creative and split testing content. Yet, just like on the web, you need a layout that makes it easy for your subscribers to click on your call to action.

In general, you should use:

  • CSS buttons so that people who do not display images can see them
  • 1 column to reduce clutter and confusion
  • Use tables and inline styles (email styling is old-school)

Consider more best practices for mobile email if you have 30%+ mobile subscribers.

3) Reduce the number of links

My friend sends an email newsletter to 250k+ subscribers. I looked at her latest newsletter, and she had 40 links in her latest send!

“Why so many?” I asked.
“Because I want people to click and come back to my site!” she said.

It turns out that having more links doesn’t actually help with your click-through-rate. Having more links merely distributes the clicks. This brings me to my 4th tip.

4) Move your call-to-action up

When we looked at publishers who have < 5 links, it turns out the most clicked links are links #1 and #2. You can get a greater concentration of clicks on your key call to action by moving it to the second or first link.

women 2.0

For example, in this newsletter, you should expect the bulk of the clicks to be on these two links.


Restaurant Distribution via Highways… The Story of Cracker Barrel

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by Rishi Shah on January 16, 2013

Cracker Barrel Logo

If you have ever been on any highway in the United States you will recognize the Cracker Barrel logo (see above).

I recently came across their Wikipedia page and discovered that their entire strategy was to open restaurants near highway exits. This makes a ton of sense! Open restaurants along the highway. Imagine driving for miles and not seeing anywhere to eat until you come across a Cracker Barrel. This is similar to a water stand in the middle of the desert.

Cracker Barell along the highway

I did a little more digging and found out the founder Dan Evins use to work at a Shell Oil gas station! He borrowed $40,000 and opened his first Cracker Barrel in 1969 right by the Tennessee State Route 109. They now have 600 stores nation-wide and $2 Billion in revenue.


The first Cracker Barrel store

I remember thinking on long road trips “What is the Cracker Barrel, I see it everywhere!” My parents would never take me there even though I would beg for it, I know now because we are vegetarian and most dishes on their menu are meat based. Till this day I still have yet to make it into a Cracker Barrel – will someone please tell me what’s inside?

From the Comments by Tom Parnau

Trusted and Recognized Symbol Representing Security… it works!

Cracker Barrel Logo is a trusted and recognized symbol representing security for those in unfamiliar surroundings. This same strategy is recognized more obviously at McDonalds. Another example, to a lesser extent would be The Machine Shed. This icon targets Farmers and truckers from the Midwest,with reputed expertise in the home cooking arena,now refered to as comfort food. Make no mistake,this same strategy is quite effective today and employed with regularity by the Kwik Trip Corporations. Your own comfort level,sense of security and of knowing exactly what to expect when you enter, is why you will drive in to the Kwik trip in lieu of the other convenience stops. It works !


4 Powerful SEO Browser Extensions

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by Rishi Shah on January 12, 2013

Peter Meinertzhagen - Google+This is a guest blog post by Peter Meinertzhagen, an SEO Consultant based in Oxfordshire, UK. Having come into the industry from teaching he’s passionate about training, development, and dispelling the myth that SEO has to be complicated.

The browser is the window to the world of the web which those of us working in online marketing use as a our primary and most used tool – and as an SEO, a tool through which you can gather vast amounts of the data and information you need to do your job. I will be covering my four most used FireFox and Chrome extensions and detailing just what makes them so darn useful!

1. SEOmoz MozBar

MozBar toolbar Screenshot

The MozBar is provided by SEOmoz and has useful functionality whether or not you’re a paid subscriber. As a free user, it can give you a toolbar which shows you the domain authority, mozRank and page authority of the page you are on, but it will only tell you the amount of links and linking root domains if you’re a subscriber and signed in. At the click of a button it can take you straight to Open Site Explorer to look more deeply at the backlink profile (and link/social metrics). You also get a nice SERP (search engine result pages) overlay giving you the same information, underneath each result in the SERP. It is available for both Chrome and Firefox.

2. Redirect Path

redirect path screen shotRedirect Path is a Chrome extension from Ayima which is an HTTP Header and Redirect checker. It’s incredibly useful for discovering all of the redirects that happen on a page. The image above shows the Redirect Path when visiting – a 301 redirect occurs taking us to the www version of the URL.

3. Google Ordered Lists

Google Ordered Lists is a very simple extension which puts a number to a result in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page) so when you’re looking up the ranking of a page for a specific query you don’t have to waste your time counting! SEOQuake below provides this functionality also, but I don’t always have SEOQuake enabled (there’s only such information a man can handle) so this unobtrusive plugin finds a use. It is available for both Chrome and Firefox.

4. SEOQuake


SEOQuake is like a more extreme version of the MozBar, giving huge amounts of information on a web page (both in a toolbar and in the SERP’s). The screenshot shows a small selection of the information it can provide: from PageRank, to domain age, to the number of indexed pages, SeoQuake gives you an immediate peek at really valuable information which you’d have had to fetch from a number of different sources.

These are four that I use most often – what others would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.


Walgreens using “Most Liked” as a buying signal

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by Rishi Shah on December 10, 2012

 It only makes sense for Walgreens to start using “Most Liked” as a buying lubricant (see image below). It is easier to build trust in a product if it is “Most Liked”.

Retail stores should take their online reviews and likes and display them in-store. I constantly find myself looking at Amazon reviews when I’m inside a Walgreens or Best Buy. I actually end up buying a more expensive product after reading reviews (convincing myself to buy the 5-star more expensive model).

Bringing the online world doesn’t have to be that complicated. It can be as simple as posting a sign up right next to the product.

What do you think of displaying Facebook “Most Like” stickers in retail stores? Let me know in the comments below.


The new “Sharing Size”

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by Rishi Shah on December 2, 2012

Next time you go into the grocery store pay special attention to the word “Sharing Size”. This is pretty smart wording, it does a few things:

  1. You don’t feel bad about buying a “Larger” sized bag of candy (even though you are probably going to eat it all your self)
  2. Gets you to think about sharing and introducing the candy to others

This is how Mars explained the launch of the new size name:

Research suggests that consumers want value, portability and portion control with their candy, and larger sized confections are gaining popularity.

What are your thoughts on the new size name, do you think it is deceptive or smart marketing? Let me know in the comments!


Great comment by Tom below: “It ain’t about the candy or the pack size,It’s about selling!”