By Dennis Last update August 17, 2017 No comments

win with weird products

There aren’t any secret marketing channels which your competitors know nothing about.

Same for growth hacks.

Most ecommerce businesses rely on the same channels to get trafficand heck, almost everybody is trying to make them work in the exact same way.

This means that only those that excel at a specific channel will dominate. And that’s only 10-20% of the market.

So are you really that good? Or are you just lying to yourself?

And if you’re competing with business that have radically different economies of scale that makes it even more difficult. I’m not even talking about Amazon or Walmart. I’m talking about online stores that are two or three steps ahead of you. With more resources to put behind their marketing.

The only way to out of this is to take a radically different approach.

In the rest of this post I’ll describe one of those approaches.

Let’s get weird.

What Winning With Weird Looks Like

I’ve recently come across a couple of new excellent examples of this very creative way to drive traffic to your store.

It’s kind of a PR / viral / SEO hybrid tactic. And when executed well (sprinkled with a dose of luck), you can get results similar to the product in the graph below.

referring domains ahrefs
Referring domains for one single product page

In one week, this product page jumped from 250 to 747 referring domains with almost 3000 backlinks in total. Including followed links from top sites like CNN, Fortune and The Washington Post.

If you want to know which product I’m talking about, skip ahead to product #1 in our list below.

The approach behind it is to create a product that turns heads. One so outrageous that people can’t help mentioning your product while they are out with friends. One you share in place where you catch yourself never sharing anything.

That’s a lot of hype to live up to. But I want to be clear what your goal should be.

Your focus is not making sales. In fact, if you score a backlink hit like the one above, it doesn’t matter if you never sell a single unit of this product.

Success for this experiment looks like this:

  • Visitors
  • Backlinks
  • Press coverage you can leverage as social proof

Afterwards, your goal is to leverage these visitors, backlinks and social proof for your real money makers.

How To Get Weird

No matter how many sharing buttons you put on your product pages, no one ever uses them.

That’s not because you’re products aren’t appealing. It just isn’t what people share. They aren’t funny, educational or inspiring.

To get good product ideas that will match the rest of your product portfolio, go to the extremes:

  • What would be the most premium product you can think of? What would be the most basic?
  • How about the most expensive product ever created? How about the cheapest?
  • The biggest? Smallest?

You get my point.

These brainstorms are a ton of fun if you involve some other people. I’ve tried it a couple of times with a client’s team and they are worth it, even if you don’t come up with a unique product at the end.

So go ahead, max out your specs.

Another route is to appeal to the curiosity of the human mind or even target the outrage of your audience . You know you’re on the right track if you can imagine people reacting like this:

“Only an idiot would buy this!!”
“Why on earth would people wear that?”
“Lol what a scam. I could make this myself and become a millionaire.”

To get your juices flowing, you can browse the list of 22 weird products below.

The Weird List

I’ve only included products that are or have been for sale at some point (no concepts or never finished Kickstarters). It’s a mix of products, both from huge retailers and small mom & pop shops.

All of these are unique products that succeed in cutting through the clutter. But not all of them manage to capture that attention. The best ones have built a platform to launch additional, more boring (and profitable) products.

It’s easy to brush these off as stupid joke gifts or gadgets. But before you do, think how much work you have to put in getting other people to care about your store and products.

Will you take any help you can get?

Product 1: $425 Mud caked jeans

nordstrom mud caked jeans

What makes it weird?
It’s a $425 pair of jeans with fake mud. They also have other versions with fake paint if you were wondering.

That first graph with referring domains you saw were he results of the attention this product got.  I think it got a ton of press because it takes the concept of a “used, new jeans” one step further. First jeans were stone washed, then ripped and now smeared with mud of paint?

Link

Product 2: Zombie Extermination, Research and Operations Kit

zero zombie kit

What makes it weird?
First of all the name: the Zombie Extermination, Research and Operations kit. It’s the pinnacle of survival gear. $19,699 to be fully protected in case of a zombie apocalypse.

It’s a huge bundle of popular products that are available on the site.

Because the survival niche is so big, I think it tapped well into that market. Then there is the zombie niche, more a specific genre of games & tv shows, where this bundle also got a lot of traction.

Link

Product 3: Cards Against Humanity

cards against humanity

What makes it weird?
Cards Against Humanity is a card game for horrible people.

Its strength is the non political correctness of its games. It’s very contrarian. And being contrarian is part of their DNA and marketing efforts.

As part of a Black Friday promotion, they asked people for donation to dig a giant hole. Over $100k poured in and ‘as long as money keeps coming in, we’ll keep digging’.

Link

Product 4: Light phone

the light phone

What makes it weird?
Instead of going bigger, better, smarter, this phone dumbs it down again.

But you don’t have to go back to your old Nokia. You can keep the smart design you got used to know with your iPhone.

It’s certainly not the only “distraction free” phone. But it’s a good example that shows there is room on the other side of the market.

Link

Product 5: Bug-A-Salt

bug-a-salt fly shotgun

What makes it weird?
The Bug-A-Salt is a shotgun that shoots salt. Perfect to kill flies or mosquitos without damaging your surroundings. And a great product name!

Fly swatters have been around for ages. So this is what innovation in the fly-swatter-niche looks like. The quirkiness of their site and marketing materials further enhance the brand.

Link

Product 6: Poop Emoji Mask

poop emoji party mask

What makes it weird?
Emojis are hot, very hot. A couple of years ago, it was hard to imagine a CEO of a big company would use it as part of his day to day communication. But today everybody is in on it.

So products that play off emojis are hot too. Like these pop emoji masks. I can imagine them being a good party hit.

Link

Product 7: The Suitsy (A Business-Suit Onesie)

betabrand suitsy

What makes it weird?
It’s a one piece suit that’s also super comfortable, machine washable and wrinkle free.

Its tagline: ‘“imagine looking professional but feeling like you’re in pajamas”

Betabrand, the company behind this product has a lot of whacky ideas. All its products are first crowdfunded. This both vets the product ideas and creates the necessary demand when they are finally available.

Link

Product 8: The OG Glitter Bomb

og glitter bomb

What makes it weird?
This glitter bomb gift makes sure the recipient ‘will be finding glitter everywhere for weeks”.

This product/site has gotten some pretty extensive coverage so it’s interesting to take a closer look.

Tracing back how it went viral, it started on Product Hunt & Reddit. After getting nearly 4000 upvotes and 1000 comments, other news outlets got interested.

Over the next couple of hours the site was profiled on publications like Time, The Washington Post, Techcrunch, Fast Company.

Mathew Carpenter, the guy behind that site, tweeted about the results a couple of days later:

glitter bomb creator

The story has a twist at the end, because it appeared later that a lot of the claims were exaggerated. It was a pump and dump scheme for selling the domain. Which worked because the site got sold for $85,000 on Flippa. The new owner did turn it into a legit business.

This illustrates the whole concept of weird concepts very well. If executed crrectly, you’ll grab the attention of the media which will further enhance your credibility and reach.

Link

Product 9: Pet Sweep

pet sweep fake box

What makes it weird?
The Pet Sweep is a pretty crazy product idea in of itself. But the really crazy thing is that this site just sells empty boxes.

That’s right, you’re buying just a box that you can use as a prank gift, or to pack your real gift in these empty boxes.

Link

Product 10: Testamints

testamints

What makes it weird?
Love the name. These are normal mints that come in a wrapper with bible quotes.

A great example of taking a regular product and coming up with a twist that will appeal to a specific (and huge) niche.

Link

Product 11: The Man Crates Sriracha Crate

man crates box

What makes it weird?
Man Crates are a collection of products wrapped in a real crate. It ships with a little crowbar and no instructions on how to open it.

This makes it an ideal gift for men that are too stubborn to read instructions or ask for help.

Gift baskets have been around for ages, but by making part of it weird, the packaging, the get talked about.

Link

Product 12: Deer Rear with Bottle Opener

deer but bottle opener

What makes it weird?
I don’t think I need to explain why this is weird. It’s a plastic deer butt that opens your beer.

While it might not appeal to you or me, I bet there are a ton of hunters that would love to have this on the wall of their man cave.

I couldn’t track down the original but in my search I found something even weirder: a DIY instruction DVD to make your own deer rump bottle opener from a deer you just shot. I kid you not.

Product 13: Green Yoga Joes

green yoga joes soldiers

What makes it weird?
This is a combo of two very popular things. Little green toy soldiers and yoga.

Yoga is peaceful and war is not. This contrast makes for a funny product.

It got labeled as a great gift for male yoga practitioners. And since most people practicing yoga are women, it’s a perfect gift form them to give their men.

They’ve built on this success with other unique yoga products like a burrito yoga mat bag

Link

Product 14: The Chocolate Shooter

chocolate-shooter

What makes it weird?
This Belgian chocolatier had to create a special dessert at a dinner party for one of the Rolling Stone guys.

So he came up with The Chocolate Shooter. It’s a contraption that gives you a unique chocolate experience by blasting special cacao powder up your nose.

Most people aren’t used to snorting powders, that makes this device pretty special when you pull it out at parties. (Trust me 🙂

Link

 

Product 15: Bacon Bandages

bacon bandages

What makes it weird?
Bacon must be one of the most popular foods on the internet. Bacon is very cool.

And these bacon bandages capitalize on that, ensuring that its message will spread well.

The company behind it has plenty of other weird products which I’m sure they are very successful with.

Link

Product 16: King Pepper Jr.

pepper grinder baseball bat

What makes it weird?
This 50 cm (19 inch) long pepper grinder in the form of a baseball bat is a guaranteed hit at BBQs.

Its unusual shape makes it a perfect candidate to be included in gift idea lists.

It’s not available anymore. But browsing the website of the company behind it (Cole & Mason) shows that their other products are pretty boring. I don’t know why the product got axed, but this would be a perfect example of a product that’s worth talking about AND that fits perfectly with the other products they have to offer.

Link

Product 17: Fidget Cube

fidget cube

What makes it weird?
This fidget cube gives fidgety people something to do.

It started as an oversubscribed Kickstarter campaign where they almost raised $6.5M on a $15,000 goal.

Now its hype has died down a little bit. But it’s again a good illustration of a seemingly useless product doing so well because it taps into what people are thinking.

Many people self diagnose with conditions like social anxiety, gluten intolerant, etc. This taps perfectly into the group that think they are more fidgety than normal.

Link

Product 18: Beard beanie

beard beanie

What makes it weird?
Like many of the products above, it perfectly taps into an existing trend and community.

This time its beanies for beard lovers.

Seeing the explosive growth of many beard care companies, this offers a funny alternative. Again, mostly gifts.

Link

Product 19: Opposuits The Fresh Prince suit

opposuits

What makes it weird?
I could have picked any suit from their store to make my point. Weird is their main USP.

You can go stylish or over the top.

This site has suits with the craziest prints. Not suitable for every occasion. But I can imagine them doing really well at parties or festivals.

With holiday themed suits I can see this business can sustain itself well around the year: American flag suits, St Paddys suits, Halloween.

Link

Product 20: The OstrichPillow

ostrich pillow

What makes it weird?
Napping in public isn’t easy. The Ostrich pillow makes it a little easier: covers you up and makes it a little cosier while unrestricting breathing.

The Ostrich pillow was their original product.

Now they’ve followed up well and expanded their product catalog with more normal product like a travel pillow or a light version of their flagship product. Solid product expansion.

Link

Product 21: PingPongDoor

PingPongDoor

What makes it weird?
The PingPongDoor is door that looks normal but is actually transforms into ping pong table.

It’s made to order and at €6,800 it isn’t cheap. So probably there won’t be that many people rushing to the site to order it.

But it’s just a single designer behind these products, so I can image the attention for a product like this (or his Boxing Couch) easily fills up his order book.

 

Link

Product 22: Rain Stepper

rain stepper

What makes it weird?
These shoe covers will save your cool sneakers from rain and mud.

People who value fashion probably won’t wear plastic bags around their feet. But this contradiction fueled the spread of this product.

The rest of the site sells all kinds of trendy gadgets, so it doesn’t connect very well with the audience. But image if this product was sold by a company that sells cool sneakers?

Link

Your Turn

I hope this post helped you discover a different approach you can take to generate attention for your store.

A lot of people will read this post, but few ill act on it.

My suggestion: set aside you worries/fears/excuses & brainstorm how you could make this work for your store.

Then you can evaluate if it does or does not fit in with your brand 🙂

Now to close off I want to hear from you: Got other cool examples? Share them in the comments!

Bonus: Sign up for our free 7 lesson course that helps store owners use advertising to grow their business.

About the author

Dennis

Dennis is the main guy behind Store Growers. He's never had a job that he didn't invent himself and loves that freedom.
In writing articles, creating courses or working with ecommerce clients he has one goal: to create more freedom for online store owners.

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