eBillme cashes in on the creative and compelling with Gregory FCA PR campaign

March 31, 2010
eBillme logo

Gregory FCA loves clients that are continually in motion, reinventing themselves and their public relations programs. Over the past five years, no client has been more successful at this than eBillme.

They came to Gregory FCA in 2005 as a fledgling start-up from Ottawa, Canada, with a concept that frankly was way ahead of its time. eBillme provides a secure way to buy online without using a credit card, but rather by paying cash drawn from online bank accounts.

It’s the brainchild of entrepreneur Marwan Forzley, who came up with the concept well before the credit collapse and America’s return to cash. His brother, Samer Forzley, has led the company’s constant marketing metamorphosis, transforming eBillme into the undeniable leader in online cash payment options serving over 800 e-tailers, including Sears.com, Kmart.com, and TigerDirect.com.

What we love about eBillme and the Forzley formula for marketing and PR is that they are willing to try the big idea, and embrace new social media to help along the way.

In 2007, we worked with eBillme to formulate the Shopping Confessions online video contest. The idea was killer: Have consumers confess to purchases they made secretly without the knowledge of their families or significant others.

The first winner was a 20-something young woman who secretly bought a large-screen TV to motivate her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Among the other submissions was a single video that received some 700,000 views on YouTube and was promoted to YouTube’s home page. The contest was covered by the Chicago Tribune, WGN, Lexington Herald-Leader, and USA Today.

This initial contest proved so successful that a subsequent contest resulted in the next winner, a minister who filmed his 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old triplets commenting on his failed purchase of a “lemon” minivan.

These first forays led eBillme into new social media waters, including the development of their Debt-Free Mall site, an online showcase of eBillme merchants where consumers can shop without racking up hefty credit card balances and fees.

The site is heavily supported through weekly giveaways promoted using Twitter, Facebook, and blogger relations. To enter, consumers post comments on the Debt-Free Mall blog or tweet about the week’s prize. An average week brings nearly 200 comments from consumers sharing their thoughts on topics such as debt-free living, saving money, and the recent credit card reform.

Here’s a dossier of what works for eBillme:

1. Don’t be afraid to go off topic. eBillme is a payment option. But their first contest campaign focused on shoppers confessing to their indiscretions. The theme was related to their primary business, but not the focus. Wider topics gain larger audiences.

2. Content can come from customers. The videos, the comments, the tweets. This would be an insurmountable volume of content if eBillme had not figured out how to get their customers engaged.

3. Combining traditional and social media. Many of eBillme’s programs combine both traditional media relations with social media. Traditional media expands the audience. Social media keeps them stuck to the company.

4. Connect and reconnect. eBillme knows how to build an audience. But they also continue to work their customer databases with fresh offers, promotions, and additional incentives.

5. Stay timely and adapt. When the credit crunch hit, eBillme saw their greatest opportunity. They transformed their message into the topics of living debt-free by using more cash-oriented positioning for their alternative payment technology.

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