I recently received the Ice Bucket Challenge (which I accepted). If you haven’t heard about this challenge, the idea is to either have a bucket of ice water over your head or donate money to the ALS Association.
This challenge has went viral. You probably have even heard about it or participated in it. Today over $100 million dollars have been raised. It’s even discussed on today’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog.
Some of you reading this may assume this works for charitable giving only but it certainly isn’t a business marketing tool. Remember, though, the infamous “Oreo tweet” during the 2013 Super Bowl. In a day where advertisers pay large amounts of money for a 30-second ad, Oreo won the day with a timely tweet that connected with people. Did it improve their sales? It probably had some impact but the main effect was strengthening brand recognition and creating buzz that continues somewhat to this day.
Since that time marketing agencies and companies have been actively looking for “newsjacking“, a new word in our language, opportunities.
Such marketing wins are great for a business. Yet as HBR notes, the difficulty comes in repeating that success. Businesses cannot depend on having such great marketing moments on a regular basis. The truth is that the marketing war is won, using baseball terminology, by getting a regular, ongoing stream of singles versus having the one spectacular home run. (The driving force behind the decision making in the movie, MoneyBall.)
So what is the take-away?
Marketing efforts that score big are great but you can’t count on them.
Successful small business marketing happens with:
- Regular marketing messages using those venues that work best for them.
- Using proven marketing tools as well as new tools.
- Regular evaluation of all marketing efforts is done.
- Use of both traditional media and online/social media.
- Knowing consumers typically don’t respond to the first ad seen. They need to see your name 3 to 5 times before taking action.
- Understanding how quickly people forget something they saw or read so marketing must be ongoing.
- Meeting consumer desire of variety and something new.
So how does this happen? It happens by developing a strategy of: 1) what your message is, 2) where each message will be shown, and 3) when each message will be released.
And if one of your messages turns into a home run, good for you.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.