Kogan fills United Warranties void – and five more of his opportunistic marketing stunts

He just keeps coming back. Ruslan Kogan, head of eCommerce business Kogan Tech and possibly one of the best self-promoters in the country, has announced his latest stunt: providing warranty support to customers stranded through the collapse of United Warranties.

Entrepreneurs may be sick of hearing of Kogan by now, but there’s a reason why he keeps making people talk – his stunts are carefully planned to provide the best return on investment, and continue to promote his reputation as an all-around nice guy.

The United Warranties announcement is just the latest in a string of stunts, designed to seize an opportunity as quickly as possible. Whether or not the stunt makes money is irrelevant – they get people talking and increase the company’s reputation.

“Customers who, in good faith, purchased warranties from our nation’s biggest retailers, believing that warranty would be honoured, should not be left hanging in the air,” Kogan said in a statement.

Whether you’re sick of him or not, there are some good examples on how to market your business – here are five of his best:

1. Harvey Norman live debate

The rivalry between Kogan and Gerry Harvey has been going on for a few years now. Kogan took the fight a step further when he challenged the retail veteran to a live debate on television.

It was a good way to step up the rivalry between the two, positioning Kogan as the latest-and-greatest thing on the web, and Harvey as an out-of-touch retailer. The debate never came to fruition, but may have gained Kogan a few fans.

2. Paying for an online glitch

Last year Kogan suffered an online glitch allowing consumers to pay for just a fraction of the price for some goods. This one cost him – to the tune of $50,000 – but he still let people buy the goods at the original prices.

It’s a good contrast to other stores, where glitches haven’t been honoured by some of the biggest names in ecommerce. Again, another good way to differentiate Kogan as being on the side of consumers.

3. The live price model

For all the talk Kogan makes of helping out the little guy, at least his pricing model supports it. In 2010, he announced plans to create a “Live Price” model, where users pay less for a product if they buy it while it’s still in the manufacturing process. Nothing if not innovative.

4. The stimulus package television

Perhaps the most opportunistic move during the 2009 stimulus package season, Kogan unveiled a new “Kogan 37” deal for a 37” flatscreen television – costing just $900, the exact same amount given as part of Kevin Rudd’s stimulus package.

Again, it’s nothing new, but it no doubt persuaded a few taxpayers to hand over their money.

5. The Internet Explorer tax

You’ve no doubt heard of this one. Last month, Kogan implemented a “tax” on Internet Explorer 7 users, saying it simply costs too much time and effort to code the website for such an outdated piece of software. Any user who goes to the site through the browser would be hit with a tax.

The funny thing is, if Kogan hadn’t said anything, nobody probably would have noticed for quite some time. But because of the outrageous nature of the scheme, Kogan found his little tax being broadcast all across the internet including coverage in the UK.


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