An April Fool’s Case Study: 3 Inbound Lessons from Brand Builder Solutions

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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For most businesses, April Fool’s Day is the opportunity to have a little fun.

A company might introduce a fake product, or perform a ghastly website redesign that involves lots of gaudy colours and images.

This is the standard that most people have come to expect. Every once in a while, however, a company executes a drastic prank that takes people completely by surprise.

In some cases, these pranks can even provide some valuable business inbound lessons for everyone else.

Brand Builder Solutions’ Daring April Fool’s Day Prank

Brand Builder Solutions is a HubSpot partner based in Delaware, on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Joe Jerome, the company’s CEO, was looking for a prank of epic proportions. He also didn’t want to keep it strictly in-house: Jerome wanted a prank that would express his company’s unique personality to clients and prospects.

Without telling anyone, Jerome redesigned his company’s home page to promote old school marketing tactics like direct mail, infomercials, and television ads – three techniques on the complete opposite end of the marketing spectrum from inbound marketing. Upon reaching the bottom of the page, visitors would find out that the redesign was just a prank.

But Jerome didn’t stop there. He also created a prank email campaign in HubSpot advising against using HubSpot for inbound marketing, in favour of more traditional direct mail campaigns. Jerome sent this email to a group of actual customers and prospects and got some fascinating results.

An astoundingly successful prank

While humour is subjective, when it comes to inbound marketing campaigns there are ways to objectively determine how well you are doing. By these measures, Jerome’s prank was a smashing victory.

The prank email’s click through rate was 300% higher than similar email campaigns Jerome had sent out to the exact same group of prospects and customers. What’s more, the Brand Builder Solutions website experienced a huge spike in website visits because of the prank. People were engaging with the company, downloading their content, and providing them with positive feedback.

It might be shocking or discomforting for some to think that a prank could reach an exponentially higher number of people than normal marketing efforts. We believe, however, that this situation provides several lessons about how to succeed in inbound marketing.

Three things you can learn about marketing from Joe Jerome

Joe Jerome

1. Make yourself stand out

Most companies that pull April Fool’s pranks probably wouldn’t advise against their primary service, or decide to send an email out to actual customers and prospects saying as much. This is the type of prank that is outside the norm: it defies people’s expectations of what a normal April Fool’s prank usually looks like.

This defying of expectations is one of the keys to inbound marketing. With an estimated 27 million pieces of content shared every day online, if you can’t differentiate your company from competitors, you will only experience a fraction of the marketing success that is possible for you.

2. Take risks

Joe Jerome didn’t know exactly how his recipients would take the joke. He was worried that some would fail to understand it, or that it might put others off.

In the end, his concerns were partially correct: there were some people who didn’t get the joke, or simply didn’t care. However, the campaign also won over many people. Jerome reported that prospects began engaging with his site’s content at impressive levels. Some existing customers sent appreciative response emails, applauding Brand Builder Solutions for the funny joke.

Your company must also demonstrate an ability to be bold with its marketing campaigns. You’ll never please everyone: instead, focus on taking chances that could position you to stand out in the eyes of the people who are most likely to be interested in what your organisation has to offer.

3. Appeal to your customers’ emotions

Always remember that the people you are targeting with your marketing campaigns are just that: real people. You aren’t writing blog posts or sending email messages to robots that make every decision based purely on logic.

Your customers and prospects are real people with desires, beliefs, goals, and obstacles. They also have real emotions. Whenever possible, try to build a stronger connection between your brand and your customers and prospects through emotion, as Jerome did by making people laugh.


Inbound marketing is about making a positive impact on people by offering them something of value. With a creative April Fool’s Day prank, marketing exec Joe Jerome has provided brands with some key lessons on how to do inbound right.


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