What does the ice bucket challenge have to do with content marketing, personalisation and multi-channel communications?
A lot as it turns out.
I got nominated for the ice bucket challenge on a rather windy, rainy morning on the last Bank Holiday of August but I’m not showing it here.
The challenge has delivered a formula that has made people share and talk about it all over social media. Marketing and sharing mixed with fun gone viral.
That’s when I came up with the idea for this post – content marketing, branding, talking and promoting your businesses should be fun.
If we want people to engage and ultimately buy from us we need to be able show the human and fun side of our business rather than ‘how this solution will work for your customer or how your customer can save money with this’.
In case you didn’t know…
The ice bucket challenge involves a person being nominated by a friend or colleague usually via twitter or Facebook to have a bucket of ice-cold water thrown over you.
It works like this on twitter: I nominate XXX to take part in the #icebucketchallenge in the next 48 hours then you donate to the MND association.
Pretty much the same on Facebook.
How did it start?
In the USA by founding members of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehring’s disease named after the famous baseball player who died from it. In the UK it is known as the Motor Neurone Disease Association. [www.mndassoication.org]
28 million ice bucket videos have been uploaded, commented on or ‘Liked’.
From July 29 to 28 August ALS $98.2 million in the same period they usually receive $2.7 million in donations.
The MND association receives on average £200k a week in donations but from 22-29 August it had received £2.7 million.
Macmillan has also taken advantage of the phenomenon and raised an additional £3 million from challenges. [Source: BBC News.co.uk/magazine]
What does the ice bucket challenge have to do with content marketing?
The whole point of the campaign is to raise awareness of a hitherto unknown disease that hadn’t got the public’s attention until now.
The fun side of the challenge has made it ‘viral’. A great marketing ploy with an injection of fun to plug a brand, in this case to raise the awareness of the disease that is ALS.
The ALS have been very effective in their marketing, taking a silly idea and making it fun and then sharing it with an audience, many of whom had no idea initially what it was all about – now they do!
How can WE make our content marketing, messages and branding fun?
Think of something unique that your audience can relate to and have fun doing it. Your targeted audience can see the humour and will appreciate your message a lot more.
Whether you sell a service, solution or product no matter how mundane make light of what it is your organisation sells or provides not by ridiculing the product or services but by making the content for your marketing fun and humorous.
For example begin a blog, direct mail or email marketing piece with: “shake it if you get excited about selling widgets…” Or clap your hands if you love industrial machinery… and use a funny image like this:
Knowing your audience and personalising the message is important. Providing content that is fun to read for your audience makes them remember you so the next time they need to order widgets they know who to call.
Put yourself in your customers shoes. Most of their day is like yours, too many emails, meetings and not enough time to get things done.
For example if a customer places an order rather than sending an electronic order acknowledgment/notification that says:
Thank you for the recent order you placed with us.
To make sure we get your delivery right please check the order.
You could try something like:
Thanks for ordering our fab widgets.
To say thank you we are giving a 10% coupon redeemable against your next order on any of our XYZ products so don’t forget to use it.
Jan, Pete and George are in the office from xx to xx call us if you need help with any of our products. Call us if you just need an online coffee and to have a chat with.
Add a daft image like this:
How many times do you get impersonal emails? I get so many I cant count the number that bear no relevance to our company’s services.
An email newsletter that features amazing new updates, why you must buy this XYZ before mid-night. B-O-R-I-N-G.
Often content marketing goes into length about how wonderful the services, products and solutions are by boring the reader to death and then there is the history of the company and the team who work in the company.
Companies are more interested in finding out what it is we can do to help them rather than reading about the history of the company that started in 1066 A.D.
Why not focus on the customer instead.
What are their issues, how have you’ve helped similar companies, show them what they will get if they use your services rather than selling them the proposition.
Send a handwritten postcard to say thanks, it’s personal and it’s personalised and I can speak from experience that it goes down really well.
When you treat customers like people rather than someone on the end of an email the results can be surprising.
The next time you decide on a marketing campaign or write some copy for your company’s products think ‘people’ rather than ‘prospects’ and aim to make the customer laugh.
Why is the ice bucket challenge so successful?
- It’s simple, unique and so easy to take part. There’s no long-term commitment and people have fun which is how we want to be perceived, fun to do business with and fun to work with.
- Although it is for a serious cause it has raised awareness of MND and people like to share their stories happy or sad. It has the human element and is therefore emotional people want to be part of it and be seen to be doing something to help the cause. When people see that your company means business but also has fun they want to be part of that too.
- The call to action is a bucket of water thrown over your head. It costs nothing, there’s no requirement to buy anything, no personal information has to be given over just a straightforward donation to charity.
When customers visit your website, read your blog or follow you on social media if they see you having fun doing what you do that shines through.
People then feel compelled to get involved with you and your company and that is why the ice bucket challenge has been such a great success it’s a people story, human and emotional.
[Facebook robbery image courtesy of Fbgags.com]
[Baby chasing cat courtesy of funny-pictures.picphotos.net]