How Reddit and Yelp used Smart Sticker Marketing to Kick-Start their Business in Early days?

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An inspirational sticker marketing campaign can work wonders in floating your business idea across the board. Small businesses especially the startups can make the best out of vinyl, car and window stickers. Being a catchy and cost efficient advertising tool; stickers convey your message to wider target audience. They are becoming an important strategic marketing gizmo. Here we are sharing the success stories of two web giants of our times.


Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian (The founders of Reddit) were graduates of the University of Virginia. In 2005 they got funding from Y Combinator to start their website. The site initially had no categories. According to Alexis Ohanian,”We launched the site without any categories-just one big front page of links about anything the community wanted. Today, the community is made up of thousands of awesome subreddits, ranging from topics like cute animal photos to politics to male fashion advice. And this marvelous community of communities owes its existence to a massive advertising budget of ...$500. To date this is the sum of money that has been spent advertising Reddit. Five hundred dollars and every dollar of it spent on stickers.”

Alexis pasted the stickers around different corners of the town. During meetings and events he and his partner handed over their stickers to the participants. They even gave them to the passersby. Totally unaware of the significance of this cost effective marketing tool, Alexis and Steve focused on building an online community and providing them a platform for sharing any kind of information. To their surprise after few months they got to know through internet, how the stickers were getting popular with the people. All this happened because of the “brand affiliation”. People started associating themselves with “Reddit” and this is how the community evolved.

With more than 5400 subbredits (areas of interest or topics under discussion); Reddit has made its way to millions of users thanks to a $500 sticker marketing campaign. 


Started off in 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman, Russel Simons and Geoff Donaker; Yelp initially as a recommendation website didn’t gain popularity. In 2006, Michelle Broderick who was Yelps’ Community manager for Seattle floated a smart window sticker marketing idea. At that time Yelp was a big hit in San Francisco and was getting good response from the users in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle but the rest of the cities didn’t know Yelp.

With “People love us on Yelp” the designing team came up with window clings that they mailed to the targeted cities’ restaurants. Initially the diners’ owners didn’t put up the stickers on their windows as they were reluctant to promote a site they never heard about. To quote Brad Porteus Former Yelp VP,”In markets where Yelp was much more unknown, we heard stories that shop owners were throwing these letters and clings away when they got them, and a few months later being sick about it, realizing that they had thrown away solid gold. They started calling us and asking for us to resend it to them. It seemed like it might be working.

Then, we started hearing from business owners that they needed a new one, because someone had stolen theirs right off their storefront window. The window cling was made out of vinyl, not a real sticker, so it could be peeled off a window and pinched by a customer or competitor. Stealing?!  Now we really knew this thing had legs.”

Sticker marketing was a success at Austin, Portland, Atlanta and New York. The persuasive text on window clings made a lasting impact on the onlookers and it created a win-win situation for both Yelp and local businesses. At the end of 2007, Yelp made this sticker program an annual fixture and still going on as it is.