To survive as a business you need sales, and to generate sales you need marketing. It is for this reason that most businesses set aside a sizable chunk of money for advertising, but wouldn’t it be grand if you could generate sales by getting your existing customers to do your marketing for you? If you have a good reputation and a loyal clientele, you can save money on marketing campaigns by getting the people who already love your products to market them for you.

Get social to generate awareness

Digitally speaking, the most successful marketing campaigns are ones that go viral on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Multinational businesses have realized the value of social media, and are exploiting it relentlessly with marketing campaigns that cost a fraction of a regular advertising, and give far better results. The important thing here is to pull on strong emotions of the customer. Of course the more followers you have, the more successful your campaign will be.

Finding more followers

Samsung started a beautifully designed social media campaign to increase its number of followers on Facebook, using a simple contest in 2011. It was called “Like It, Reveal It, Win It.” They had a weekly product giveaway which Facebook users could win by liking the Samsung Facebook page, then revealing parts of the product image by sharing the contest with their friends. The more friends who participated in the contest, the faster the product images were revealed. The first person to reveal the image won the actual product. The efficacy of the campaign can be seen by the fact that Samsung increased its follower count by 12,000 during the very first week of the contest.

Boosting sales

McDonald’s happy meals may be their most successful cash cow, but after McDonald’s in Singapore decided to launch their special breakfast menu, the company came up with a great campaign to popularize it. First of all, they stressed how breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Then, they offered to instill the good habit of eating breakfast regularly by giving away free breakfast meals at certain stores. Clear Channel, a local television channel, partnered with McDonald’s to show dynamic advertising displays of local stores that were offering free breakfast meals. The ads showed the exact number of meals available, and provided a strong motivation for customers to head to a store close by to get their free meal. As the supplies were limited, customers often ended up buying extra breakfast meals for family members. The sales boost was tremendous.

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The unique offer

Getting a true bargain can create a social buzz among the existing and potential customer base. This is the reason why Nike runs its recurring campaign called “The Chance.” It allows youngsters from around the world to win a place at the Nike Academy for a year, where they get to play soccer against the reserve teams of Premier League and other associated clubs. The campaign, which was first run in 2010, saw participants create more than 17,000 Facebook pages and had a reach of 5.5 million people. 28,000 player posts and 2,000 user made videos dominated YouTube, giving the Nike channel more than 3.4 million views. The exposure that Nike received as a brand was huge.

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Being interactive is the key

The customer wants to participate in an active manner, and if your business can provide them with a platform, they will be happy to engage with it. Look at the “Coca Cola Happiness Machine,” a simple idea that generated tons of buzz for the company at minimal cost. The Happiness Machines were Coca Cola vending machines placed in numerous locations, giving out not only Coca Cola, but also things like pizza, flowers, and sandwiches. Some of them were tweaked to give away freebies to all customers. Others needed a specific action to be performed for a reward—for instance, with one machine in Singapore, you needed to hug the machine to get a free drink. In Belgium, you had to dance a happy jig to get your free cola. The actions and reactions were recorded in videos that were shared on YouTube. The footage earned the company millions of views and free publicity for the cost of a few drinks.

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Besides the giants, it works for small businesses 

The marketing campaigns that have been brilliantly executed by multinational firms have all had unique, out of the box ideas that brought them great publicity at little cost and boosted sales. Digital marketing campaigns can work just as well for small businesses. For example, a local pizza place asked clients to post pictures of themselves enjoying pizza on the pizza joint’s Facebook page, and the photo with the most votes would win the contest. The prize was an “all you can eat pizza dinner” for a couple. The clients not only took innovative pictures showcasing the pizza brand, they got their friends (some not even in the same city) to like the photos as well. The exposure for the restaurant was huge.

Elements of social media to use for business marketing 

Concentration, focus, and observation are required to design a simple digital marketing campaign which will go viral. The big businesses may have a huge research team telling them just what to do, but small businesses can do just as well with their marketing campaign online.

Here are some ways small business owners can use social media to market their business, often using existing customers to do their marketing for them:

  • Learn who your clients are and what they want through market research. Next, use this information to pull on emotional triggers when you design your digital marketing campaign.
  • Get involved in local causes close to the heart of your customers. It could be a grudge basketball game between rival colleges, an annual sales fete, or a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Find something to associate your business with the event on social media, such as creating your own hash tag in association with the event on Twitter. Your business will gain exposure from the reflected publicity of the event.
  • Find clients who have social clout on Twitter and Facebook. Offer them freebies and they will tweet about it or post it on their timeline. This gets you great exposure online at a minimal cost.
  • Make videos—they are a powerful medium of social influence. Post plenty of them on your YouTube channel. Better still, have a contest where your customers make their own videos and tag your business.
  • Increase the online visibility of your business by ensuring that all social media sites feature your business page. If you can’t be seen, how can you expect to go viral? Think of different ways to stay in public memory. Marketing and advertising create a sustainable image in the mind of the customer, which brings them instant recall of your brand when they need to buy the product. By getting your customers to do your digital marketing, a business owner is assured that the brand is never far from the mind of the customer.

Have you used any of these creative marketing strategies in your business? Were they successful? Why or why not? Share your experience in the comments below. 

AvatarSarika Periwal

Sarika Periwal is an internet marketer associated with Mabbly, a digital marketing services provider based in Chicago, IL. Contact us for implementation of innovative marketing strategies for your business, however big or small.