How To Market Through Your Customers

We all know an effective marketing campaign can be the key that unlocks the door to a world of new customers.  The trouble is that consumers are buried under a sea of images and attempts to separate them from their money.  What’s ideal is word of mouth – the better-than-anything-you-could-pay-for form of spreading the word about companies and products worth supporting.  Your customers actually do your marketing for you, and you simply continue delivering the high quality product they’re raving about.

But how do you get your customers to do it?  Let’s look at a few companies who’ve done it right.

On May 9, 2013, an article was published by a journalist who’d stopped in Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City and asked what was new.  The staff had offered the journalist a taste of a new product that would launch to the public on the day after the article was published.  On May 10, 2013, the Cronut ™ was born.  There were customers waiting outside the little bakery, lined up to sample the delectable baked good they’d read about.

By the end of the week, the line outside Dominique Ansel Bakery was one hundred people long.  People stood in line to sample the Cronut ™ they’d heard about from their friends.  And they didn’t just buy one Cronut ™; they bought lots of them – as well as all of the other unique, handmade pastries the shop produces.

Now the Dominique Ansel Bakery is a small business.  They don’t have a big marketing department who dreamed up the Cronut™ as a publicity stunt.  They simply embrace the creativity inherent in baking, and word of mouth pulls customers from all over the world into the little shop.  It’s organic.  It’s natural.  It’s the power of word of mouth.

Another great example of a company whose customers are ardent fans is a well known jewelry store (whose name I can’t share with you.)  Their policy for purchases of engagement rings is pure genius.  A couple selects a ring – say a diamond of one full carat.  The jewelry store has a secret upgrade policy, and they supply the client with a stone that’s just a little larger than the one they paid for.  When customers take their one carat ring to an appraiser, they discover that it’s a carat-and-a-quarter.  The customer – stunned at having received more than they paid for – returns to the jewelry store, at which point the jeweler thanks them for their business, tells them about the secret upgrade, and – here’s the genius part – asks the customer not to tell anyone about the secret upgrade.

But the customer does tell.  The customer tells everyone he can think of about the spectacular customer service he received and about the exceptional value the jeweler provided.  That customer ropes in hundreds more customers, and the jewelry store doesn’t do anything except make customers happy and wait for new customers to pour in.  It’s brilliant.

So we know small businesses can make a splash by capitalizing on their fans and encouraging satisfied customers to tell all their friends.  But what about larger businesses – say the size of FedEx?  As it turns out, even behemoths can benefit from getting customers to chatter about them – even if the topic of discussion is something relatively minor – like the company logo.  It turns out that embedded in FedEx’s logo is a neat little “secret.”  Once you see it, you won’t ever be able to see a FedEx package or truck without thinking about it.  There’s an arrow in the logo – a perfectly appropriate little symbol for a company that moves things from one place to another, and that arrow generates more interest than you’d think.  Once you know it’s there, you’ll find yourself pointing it out to other people, who, in turn, do the same for their friends.

Think about it – an arrow in a logo generates chatter.  Simple, logical, genius.

Whether customers are sharing a Cronut ™ with a friend, or whether they’re swearing a coworker to secrecy about the jewelry store secret upgrade they swore not to divulge, if you can get your customers talking about you, your company, and your brand, then you’re starting a marketing trend that can not only become self-sustaining, but can also bring more customers than you’d ever dreamed of – right to your door.

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