I’ve been thinking about the ALS Ice bucket challenge a lot lately.
In case you’re unaware, the ALS Ice bucket challenge is an activity where people pour a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise awareness of ALS. They then challenge their friends to perform the same task within 24 hours. Their friends can do the challenge and donate $10 or if they don’t they have to donate $100. Oh and they have to post a video of themselves performing the challenge and then challenge several of their own friends.
The ALS challenge as been done by Presidents, CEOs, Celebrities and people all over the world. To date it has raised $94 million in the US alone. That’s some powerful stuff!
So yeah, it’s been on my mind a lot. Why was it so successful and how can local businesses use the same principals to help their businesses succeed?
What made the ALS Ice bucket Challenge So Successful
The challenge had a number of things going for it that led it to be hugely successful.
The Goal Was Clear – The goal of this challenge was pretty clear and easy to understand; spread awareness of als and raise funds for research into a cure. It is straight forward and something everyone could get behind.
Easy To Participate – Almost everyone could participate. All you needed was ice, a bucket, water and a cell phone to record the event. All things that are readily available in the western world.
Time Sensitive – Remember in high school when you had months to do your project but you didn’t do it until the last minute? You finally did it because your time was limited. You had a deadline. Giving people only 24hrs to complete the challenge made them more likely to do it. Without that, most would’ve been too busy, put it off for later, eventually forget about it. And we would not be talking about the Ice Bucket Challenge today.
The Multiplier Effect – A key part of the challenge was to challenge 3 additional people. So If someone challenged you and then you challenged 3 other, and each of them challenged 3 others and so on, you can see how this can quickly reach a lot of people.
Rewarding – This challenge was rewarding on many levels for participants. You felt good for supporting a good cause, you did something everyone else was doing, you got a sense of accomplishment by overcoming something that was a little challenging and you got to brag about and show how awesome you are by posting it on social media.
How can local businesses use these same principals to benefit their businesses?
Lets be clear, its very unlikely that you will have the kind of success that ALS foundation gained from the Ice Bucket Challenge. But you don’t need to.
This is about giving your business marketing/promotions an extra boost by using certain principals not about how to ‘go viral’.
With that said, the best way to get started is to look at previous promotions and use the points listed above to evaluate if it met the criteria. Then when creating your next campaign you can add several of these elements to make it more successful.
1. Set Clear Goals
Now I know every business really wants to increase sales, but try these on first
- Increase awareness
- Enhance Customer Support
- Gather Customer Feedback
- Enhance Customer Loyalty
- Generate Leads
2. Simplify Steps Needed To Participate
If your potential customers have to do too much to participate, they won’t. Simple as that. So keep it simple.
For instance I want people who read my blog to sign up for my GSB Insider Newsletter so they don’t miss future articles and give-aways, so at the end of my articles and throughout this blog you will find multiple sign up locations and the only thing I require is your email address. I could ask for your date of birth, your telephone number, where you work etc. but thats not necessary.
Key is figure out the easiest way to get the person to take action.
3. Add urgency and scarcity
People tend to act quickly when an issue is important enough. People tend to buy when something is scarce enough. Here are three ways to add urgency and scarcity
- Pick A Deadline eg. “The deadline for signing up is August 5”
- Use words like “Now”, Today, Hurry, Immediately, Instant
- Use urgent colors – Red is often where the eye looks first. it is great for attracting attention
4. Add Social Proof and Encourage Sharing
We are more likely to do something if people close to us have also done it. Thats why facebook shows you messages like “15 of your friends liked this”. That’s social proof. We think more people like it than it must be good. The way to increase social proof of your business or campaign is to make sure people share it with their friends.
5. Incentivize potential customers
We’d like to think that people will participate in our campaign just because we ask them nicely. Except for your mother, thats not the case. For the most part if you want people to do something there has to be something in it for them.
The key though is to make your incentive relevant to your audience AND to your business. This is very important.
Quick story – back in 2012, in the early days of Get Social Bahamas, I observed a number of businesses giving away iPhones and iPads. It was baffling to me. why would Executive Printers for instance give away a $700 apple product every week on its facebook page? Did they even think about what they were doing? It was crazy but the page was buzzing, everybody wanted one. And thats the problem; Everyone is not Executive Printers target audience. So all that excitement and activity from 23 year old college students, hotel workers, etc. was wasted.
I believe that these steps represent the key principles behind the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and if you work them into your business, marketing and promotions they could greatly benefit your business.
But a word of caution: the viral nature of the ALS campaign is very very rare and when it happens it is rarely planned. Be extremely skeptical of anybody promising to run a viral campaign for your business. And like I said early, you don’t need to go viral for a campaign to have a significant impact.