For many of us, it can be difficult to think of ideas for our next marketing campaign. From deciding what channels you want to use to crafting unique content that will grab your customer’s attention, it can be hard to get creative and branch out from methods you’ve tried in the past.
One of the latest strategies brands are using to reach their customers is providing an opportunity for them to share their own unique ideas. Multi-million dollar companies are building awareness for their brands by allowing their customers to create their own promotional content and have it published for all to see. The concept is referred to as Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM) and companies around the globe are tapping into this growing trend.
What is Consumer Generated Marketing?
To put it in plain English, Consumer Generated Marketing is the practice of allowing your customers to have an active role in your marketing efforts by giving them the opportunity to post their own promotional content publicly.
Some companies have allowed their customers to create videos of themselves using their products, others have turned their campaigns into full competitions to see who can come up with the most out-of-the-box ideas.
The beauty of CGM is that as a marketer or business owner, you can take more of a backseat approach and allow your customers to promote your brand through candid messaging that’s almost impossible to replicate otherwise.
For the past several years, Frito Lay has used several clever Consumer Generated Marketing methods to get the word out about its’ brands. By far, the most popular has been their campaigns for Doritos.
In 2006 Doritos Launched their “Crash the Super Bowl” Campaign. For over ten years, this campaign has centered around a contest where consumers submit their craziest commercial ideas to feature during Doritos’ super bowl ad spot. Thousands of contestants submit their ideas each year and only one finalist is featured. If you watched the super bowl last year, you may remember seeing this.
Sometimes breaking into a new market requires a special approach. In 2009 Ford launched their “Fiesta Movement” campaign in an attempt to build credibility in the U.S sub-compact car market. For years, Ford competed in the mid-size, truck, and SUV market and want a creative way to raise awareness for their new Fiesta. They turned to real-life users for help.
The result was a vlog (Video Blog) series where 100 lucky brand ambassadors were chosen to showcase how the Fiesta impacted their day-to-day lives. Take a look!
Coca-Cola is easily one of the most recognized brands among consumers today. From their iconic commercials to their merchandise and memorabilia, the Coke brand has connected with multiple generations of consumers across the globe.
In an effort to get their customers involved in spreading the word about Coke, the company launched their unique “Share a Coke” campaign to give customers a unique way to tell their stories. With bold lettering of common consumer names ranging from Amanda to Zoey, Coke encouraged their customers to share Coke with their closest friends and family and capture a picture for social media with the #shareacoke hashtag. The campaign was a huge success with many customers taking to social media sites like Instagram to share their experience. Take a look!
The campaigns listed above are examples of how companies have leveraged the power of their brands and customer loyalty to drive interest in their markets. Obviously, your brand might not be as recognizable as Coke or Doritos. The fundamentals of creating a unique opportunity for customers to engage with a brand and providing support along the way are the main components for each of these campaigns.
Whether you’re a small business looking for a creative idea for your next campaign or are a Fortune 500 company looking to gain an edge over competitors, the tips & guidelines in the next section can be applied to almost any business or campaign.
Tips & Guidelines
Consumer Generated Marketing isn’t reserved for the most elite companies. You don’t need a multi-million dollar marketing budget or even a team of executives. All you need is a solid product and interested customers that are willing to get involved with your brand.
The keyword here is involved. The main component of CGM is consumers. In order to make a campaign like this work, you need to get your customers involved with your brand and provide them with an opportunity to let their voices be heard.
In the examples above, each brand took a slightly different approach in allowing their customers to be creative. Some created contests to see who could come up with the next great commercial idea, others redesigned their packaging to help their loyal followers tell a story.
The key to making your campaign successful is providing support, guidance, and an opportunity for your customers to come together and share their ideas. Below are some other tips & guidelines that are important to help you start on the right path.
Provide Users with Clear Goals and Instruction
When putting together your campaign, you need to determine clear goals and objectives for your management team. These goals then need to be translated into concise submission instructions for your users and need to be written in plain language. This will help your users understand what you’re looking for in your campaign and help prevent wasted time and effort.
Don’t demand Everything for Nothing
Asking your customers to create the next two-hour box-office movie for a 10% off coupon isn’t exactly fair. Even though it might be nice brand exposure for your company, if you don’t incentivize or reward your customers appropriately for their efforts, you’re probably not going to have a great turn out.
To keep it simple, your incentives and rewards should match the time and effort your customers dedicated to the project. If it’s a simple selfie with your product or storefront in the background, a $10 coupon might be fine. If you’re asking them to participate in a contest to make your next commercial, the finalists should be offered something to reflect your appreciation.
Keep it Fun & Candid
Asking customers to write your next mission statement or draft a twenty-page memo highlighting a product’s benefits isn’t exactly fun or exciting. To provoke interest in your campaign and get customers involved, you need to come up with an interesting idea that captures their interest and doesn’t put them to sleep.
Running a contest on social media with a unique hashtag is a common idea for many companies. On Instagram alone, I’ve seen several companies create campaigns where customers submit selfies with their products and use the brand’s hashtag to drive leads to their page.
This is an easy way to get customers involved and doesn’t require extensive research or prep time to get started.
Over the years, we’ve seen numerous campaign ideas from our clients at VIG. Some have been an outstanding success, and others have taken time to refine and get right. Consumer Generated Marketing is one of the most interesting strategies we’ve seen so far and from the examples above, there’s no denying just how successful it can be.
Are you looking for ideas for your next campaign? Not sure where to start? Think VIG!