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Newsletter #996: The “Your Customers are Innovators” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Paying attention to your customers’ feedback, criticisms, and compliments isn’t enough. You could be missing something even more remarkable: the innovative ways they can promote your stuff.

Here are three examples of when companies were inspired by their customers:

1. Show them off
2. Make them feel special
3. Focus on specific groups
4. Check it out: London’s historic paintings on top of contemporary photos

1. Show them off

How do you make a flowchart interesting? You chart the lyrics to “Hey Jude” and add some music to it. In an incredible video, Lucidchart shows off the work of one of their fans who used the tool to map out every verse and every “na” in the famous Beatles song with boxes and arrows. It inspired Lucidchart to post even more of these lyrical flowcharts on YouTube with songs like “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Each has thousands of views (all for what’s basically a flowchart demonstration).

The lesson: You never know what will capture your customers’ attention. Why not look to those customers for that inspiration in the first place?

Learn more: Lucidchart Blog

2. Make them feel special

While some restaurants ban customers from snapping photos of their meal, Comodo in New York encourages them to contribute their photos to an “Instagram Menu” by adding #ComodoMenu to their posts. It’s a great way to collect all of their recommendations and photos in one place, but more importantly, it makes those contributors feel like a part of the restaurant.

The lesson: People are going to take Instagram photos of their fancy dinners. Why not make the most of that word of mouth by making those customers feel special?

Learn more: Signal v. Noise

3. Focus on specific groups

For their “Make It” contests, Urban Outfitters lets fashion and design students submit original outfit and furniture designs for the chance to have their stuff manufactured and sold in Urban Outfitters stores. That could be a big break for a student. For Urban Outfitters, it’s more than just market research, it’s a chance to put the spotlight on a niche group and get them excited about their stuff.

The lesson: Word of mouth travels faster in groups. Find ways to give a specific group of your customers a great reason to talk about you.

Learn more: PSFK

4. Check it out: London’s historic paintings on top of contemporary photos

See how one artist mashes up traditional paintings of famous places in London with photos of the current view.

Check it out: My Modern Met

Turn business trips into word of mouth trips

This is a post from our WordofMouth.org project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

You don’t have to have a physical store to get out there, meet your fans, and earn word of mouth face-to-face. But you also don’t have to hold a big, expensive event to do it.

When a team from Pinterest went to South by Southwest in Austin, they didn’t fly from San Francisco. Instead they drove a rented Winnebago on a massive road trip, stopping along the way to meet their fans. That way, they turned something they were already doing — traveling to a conference — into a unique opportunity to earn word of mouth along the way.

Pinterest road trip map

It’s easy for an online company like Pinterest to have the chocolate problem — everyone knows who they are and what they do. But by breaking out of their typical, online presence and actually meeting their fans in person, they gave people something new to talk about.

Newsletter #995: The “Lessons from Google You Weren’t Expecting” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

What is there left to say about a company like Google? You’ve already heard about their amazing offices, played with their Google doodles, and seen their amazing tech innovations. But we think there are still some lesser-known sides of Google we can learn something from.

Here are three inspirational examples from Google you probably haven’t heard of yet:

1. Show how your stuff makes a difference
2. Do something amazing for a niche group
3. Little surprises keep up word of mouth
4. Check it out: Doodle 4 Google Winners

1. Show how your stuff makes a difference

Want to do something good for your community or even the world? Donating to charities and fundraising events are nice. But it’s more remarkable when you show a meaningful way to use your stuff. Google (who has the budget to pull off big stuff) does a bunch of small, beneficial things for the world using their technology. For example, Google brought together teens from racially divided Arab and Jewish schools to work on cultural projects via Google Hangouts. They also used their maps to help victims find safe places and locate family members when Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines.

The lesson: A lot of companies give money to charities. It’s nice, but it’s not always remarkable. You can create more word of mouth by finding unique ways to use your skills and talents to help people who need it.

Learn more: Google Blog

2. Do something amazing for a niche group

Google is working with artists to document and archive the temporary world of graffiti and street art in their Google Cultural Institute. You can do stuff like look through photos of New York’s 1990′s graffiti movement or use Street View to explore an art-covered nine-story building that’s since been demolished. It’s a fascinating use of Google’s resources to support a relatively small community.

The lesson: Why focus on helping out a niche group like this? Google doesn’t need advertising to get more people to use their stuff. They need passionate fans. By creating these galleries, they’re earning advocates and evangelists in the art community.

Learn more: Google Blog

3. Little surprises keep up word of mouth

Did you know that if you type famous rap lyrics into a Google Doc it will correct your spelling to turn words into slang? For example, “the” becomes “tha” and “going” becomes “goin.” That’s just one of the hundreds of Easter eggs Google leaves for people to find.

The lesson: Everyone’s heard of Google, and everyone knows how great it is, so there’s not a lot of room for new conversations. But it’s surprises like these that make people smile and re-energize word of mouth for the brand.

Learn more: Wikipedia

4. Check it out: Doodle 4 Google Winners

Each year Google asks kids in grades ranging from kindergarten to high school to participate in a contest to draw the next Google Doodle and win a scholarship. This year, the theme was inventions to make the world a better place. (Hint: The K-3 category was the most creative.)

Check it out: Doodle 4 Google

Be there when they need you most

This is a post from our WordofMouth.org project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

For a buzzworthy company, step one isn’t providing great customer service — step one is providing blow-their-minds customer service. One way to do it is to help out your customers when they aren’t expecting it.

Here are three ways to save the day and earn some fans along the way:

1. When they’re caught in the rain
2. When they need a closer look
3. When things don’t go as planned

1. When they’re caught in the rain

First Republic Bank has a reputation for handing out complimentary umbrellas. They give them as gifts to their new customers and to people who come into their banks. But they also hand them out to people caught in the rain. That’s a great impression of customer service and a story about First Republic Bank those people will carry with them. Folks don’t have to be your customers for you to show them an example of your customer service.

2. When they need a closer look

Rite Aid puts magnifying glasses in aisles that are popular with elderly folks who may need help reading the fine print on a product. That’s a message to all of their customers that they pay attention to these kinds of details and care enough to do something about it. (And it’s as simple as putting a magnifying glass in an aisle.) Showing your customers you care about their experience doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, just thoughtful.

3. When things don’t go as planned

No one likes having a canceled or delayed flight. It can especially throw a wrench in your schedule if your shuttle has already dropped you off at the airport or you have to pay to reschedule other transportation. But when you book a shuttle ride with Banff Airporter, they ask for your flight information so they can track flight times. If your plane is delayed, they’ll move you to the next shuttle. There’s a lot of airport transportation options for these travelers, but this service makes Banff Airporter stand out.

Newsletter #994: The “Give It To the People” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Stop clinging so tightly to your stuff. Some of the best word of mouth marketing happens when you let people have it — whether that’s by giving away some content, donating something important, or letting people take some ownership of your brand.

Here are a few ways companies are reaching new customers by giving their stuff to the people:

1. Release it
2. Donate it
3. Crowdsource it
4. Check it out: Bricksy

1. Release it

The folks behind Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the famous British comedy sketch group, were completely aware of all of the bootlegged, low-quality versions of their shows uploaded to YouTube. In fact, in one video they call the pirates out by name. But instead of prosecuting these people for sharing fuzzy and poorly ripped-off versions of their show, the group released all of their original videos on a Monty Python YouTube channel, sorted, categorized, and in high-quality. It may seem crazy, but one year later Monty Python’s DVD sales have significantly increased.

The lesson: Piracy happens. Sometimes you can’t stop it. But instead of fighting the pirates, why not do something great for your potential customers? Wouldn’t you rather make people’s first impressions of your stuff be the best one?

Learn more: Fast Company

2. Donate it

HTC has found an interesting way to help their customers help others. When they’re not using their phones, the phone’s computer processing power can be donated to scientific researchers solving problems related to AIDS and Alzheimer’s through an open infrastructure network. That might sound complicated, but really, it just means that HTC has empowered their customers to give something they weren’t using anyway.

The lesson: Donating to a cause is great. But it’s even better when you can help your customers donate, too. That gives them something to feel proud of and a great reason to tell someone else about your company.

Learn more: PSFK

3. Crowdsource it

With all of the massive wildfires spreading across California, it’s difficult to track all of the changes to the landscape over time. One group, Nerds for Nature partnered with other organizations to place signs all over hiking trails affected by the fires asking people to contribute — not with money, but with photos. The signs ask you to place your phone against a bracket so you can take a photo of a particular view, share it on social media, and contribute to a crowdsourced time-lapse. The results help with research for fire damage recovery.

The lesson: One of the best ways to get people to care about your cause is to make them a part of it. These folks are much more likely to talk about fire recovery research when they can show their friends the photos they contributed to it.

Learn more: Nerds for Nature

4. Check it out: Bricksy

These LEGO interpretations of Banksy’s street art, created by artist Jeff Friesen, put a playful spin on the famously edgy work.

Check it out: The Brick Fantastic

Newsletter #993: The “Customer Love” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] One of the most underrated word of mouth tools is customer love. You work so hard to earn it, but what […]

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Newsletter #992: The “Better Than Marketing” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Anyone can buy an ad — but if you read this newsletter much, you know how we feel about most advertising. […]

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Newsletter #991: The “Little Trees” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] We’ve all seen those tree-shaped air fresheners hanging from someone’s rear-view mirror. They’re called Little Trees, and apparently, you can find […]

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Newsletter #990: The “Lessons from an Ancient Industry” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Did you know that the oldest piece of jewelry discovered dates back to 100,000 years ago? That’s a long time for […]

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