Hot mobile payment startup Square is shooting for the moon after recently closing a $27 million funding round. As the service enters its second year, co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted out the above photo of four gargantuan posters dominating the Times Square skyline at 49th and Broadway.
Such aggressive marketing is a big change from the San Francisco-based company’s past strategy. Last week, COO Keith Rabois told me of the difficulties of creating awareness for the young startup. “Not everyone knows about Square, but everyone should,” he said. “Our job is to communicate that, and some of that communication–particularly when we’re talking about communicating to 180 million Americans–cost some amount of money.”
And at the time, it was money Square wasn’t necessarily willing to drop. According to Rabois, Square’s marketing budget in January: a measly $3,000. That’s a far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars a Times Square advertisement typically costs, though a Square spokesperson tells us the billboards were actually a gift to the company and didn’t cost them anything.
“So, no, we’re not buying a Super Bowl ad,” Rabois joked then, making a crack about Groupon’s plan to do so. (In retrospect, perhaps Groupon should’ve taken Square’s approach instead.)
Rabois said Square was looking to market mostly through social media–Twitter, YouTube–but said more traditional marketing wasn’t out of the question.
But perhaps big-budget advertising wasn’t even needed. Square is growing by roughly 60,000 to 70,000 new merchants every month.
“Users are signing up in droves, even without us being able to communicate across significant channels,” said Rabois. “But now that we have some more resources, we will invest some of that in communicating the appeal of Square.”AC