Bellhop is a moving company that hires high-quality local college kids to offer affordable, on-demand moving help across the country. With Bellhop, you can hire as many strong, kind individuals as you need for as little as one hour to help you with your move. We were able to position ourselves as a great gig-economy job for local college students as well as an on-demand service for individuals who need moving help. Bellhop is more affordable, easier to book, and more trustworthy than a regular moving company.
I joined the company near the beginning as they were transitioning away from just providing moving services to college kids and positioning the brand as a local moving company. Our niche was in between the DIY individual who books a U-Haul and pays their friends in pizza and the large professional moving company which costs $1500-$5000. I was early in my career and loved diving in, solving problems, and helping build a startup that would reach national recognition
Step 1. Research
I believe that conducting thoughtful intentional research is the first step to designing and developing a go-to-market strategy. Bellhops when I started had just entered the DIY moving industry and was just learning how to position and promote itself. The first thing I did was call our most recent DYI customers. I wanted to know why they chose us and how they heard about us in the first place. I was very curious about their buying process and how they went about choosing a moving company.
They generally mentioned hearing about us through word of mouth or searching for a moving company on Google. When they searched for a moving company, they were presented with a dozen local options that were charging anywhere from $1500-$5000. When they found us, they learned they could get the same job done for around $500.
The word-of-mouth referral was amazing because it communicated trust along with an understanding of how our business worked. If we were able to position ourselves as often as possible on the first page of Google, I was sure we were going to be able to drive a significant amount of new business.
Step 2. Go To Market Strategy
Our goal was to position ourselves as often as possible on the first page of Google and encourage anyone who uses us to refer us to their friends. This would optimize for growth for a single location. We can then duplicate that across as many locations as possible.
When someone searches: “Movers near me” They are always presented with a local map pack, ads, thumbtack, Craigslist, Yelp, and sponsored search ads. To capture as much space on that page we decided to:
- Invest in local SEO - Optimize our GMB - drive Google reviews
- Create listings on Yelp - drive reviews to each location
- Post to Craigslist Daily
- Create partnership on Thumbtack - develop an inbound sales team to call on those leads
- Manage PPC campaigns for Adwords
- Build a behavioral email campaign to retarget consumers who drop off during the online order process
As a startup, we didn’t have a lot of resources. We were able to expand into a new market very easily. It only took hiring a campus director, a student at a college campus who would then hire all of their friends to be movers. The movers were all 1099ed and could work on demand. Once we had the supply it was fairly easy to drum up demand by implementing the Google front page takeover strategy.
Step 3. Implementation
From 2012 to 2015 we built 140 markets in college towns across 50 states. We had over 8000 movers on the platform and were ready for all the demand we could throw at them. It was key that we developed the demand in tandem with the growth of each market.
We built a customer success team that’s entire job was to create creative/fun personal videos thanking each person who hired our services across our 140 locations. This was beneficial to help drive online reviews across Google and Yelp which helped us easily rank well in those two platforms. We had each campus director post to Craigslist daily as part of their internship. We created a Thumbtack partnership, buying cost-effective leads from them and building out an inbound sales team to call and close those leads. I also managed localized AdWords campaigns to help drive traffic in all of our 140 markets.
During those two years, we not only grew to 140 markets, but our annual revenue grew from $500k to $10,000,000. We captured a significant part of each local market’s moving demand and were published in New York Times and Washington Post. I look back very fondly on my time there and believe it was an integral part of developing me into the marketing professional I am today.