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3 digital designs that earn word of mouth

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

We don’t always share techie examples of word of mouth marketing, because word of mouth shouldn’t rely on digital or social media to work. But that doesn’t mean your web strategy couldn’t use a little WOM boost.

Here are three ways to do it:

1. Feature your customers
2. Give it some personality
3. Make sharing fun

1. Feature your customers

For their first anniversary, Free People, a women’s clothing retailer, replaced models with photos sent in by their customers. If their customers love them enough to share pictures of themselves wearing their stuff, they’ll certainly love getting recognized too. Even better, lots of their customers are fashion bloggers and big talkers online. Once their followers see how much Free People values their fans, it might inspire even more photo submissions and more word of mouth.

2. Give it some personality

To tell their clients and friends “thanks,” digital agency Grow created a site for them to choose a T-shirt called “Thank you begins with a T.” Each Grow employee modeled a different shirt and created an interactive design to fit their personality. For example, their office manager, Sheeryl, stands behind a play, pause, and fast-forward button that shows off her dance moves when you click them. That gives their customers a look at the personal side of their business while also showing off their digital chops.

3. Make sharing fun

Publicis Groupe gives a digital greeting at the end of every year with a YouTube video. But last year’s video used facial recognition to give it a twist. The more people who gathered around to watch it, the more outrageous the video got. That’s a techie example for a word of mouth basic: build sharing into your experience. The more fun you make it to share your stuff, the more your customer will want to do it.

How to make water, pushpins, and Boring remarkable

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

It’s easy to feel like the underdog out there sometimes. Maybe you can’t afford that store space in the cool part of town, maybe it’s hard for your product to stand out, or maybe you have a name like Boring. Whatever your obstacle, you can make your stuff more remarkable with a little ingenuity.

Here are three word of mouth strategies that turned underdog situations into word of mouth opportunities:

1. Make a scene
2. Make a partnership
3. Make it shelf-worthy

1. Make a scene

With the ridiculous cost of retail space in Tokyo, one designer decided that if he couldn’t afford a regular-sized shop, he’d make a tiny one. He drove a remote-controlled pop-up shop displaying his tiny product, pushpins, all over a busy shopping district in Tokyo. In a sea of big, flashy shop fronts, he got more attention by being small. You can’t always beat your competitors with the expensive stuff, but by being completely different, you can stand out even on a small budget.

2. Make a partnership

The small farming town of Boring, Oregon has heard all of your jokes, and they’ll admit there really isn’t much going on there. But when one resident came across Dull, Scotland, an even tinier town north of Glasgow, they decided to bring a little excitement to both communities by celebrating Boring and Dull Day. It’s a way to bring the communities closer together and earn some publicity for their little towns. On their own, Boring and Dull are funny town names. But by making a partnership, they made something worth talking about.

3. Make it shelf-worthy

To celebrate their canals’ 400th anniversary, Amsterdam created a line of specially designed bottles filled with water from the canals to sell as souvenirs. Selling water, sand, and other cheap artifacts as travel souvenirs is nothing new. What makes these different is the packaging. By putting the canal water in a quirky bottle, they turned the typical souvenir into a conversation piece. Are you thinking of the small changes you can make to get your customers’ friends to ask, “What’s that?”

Newsletter #997: The “Make It Ugly” 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.]

The race to make the flashiest, most impressive, and most beautiful is a crowded one. Sometimes it’s worth it to make something great — but sometimes, doing the opposite can help you stand out.

Here are a few examples to inspire you:

1. Compete with personality
2. Try lots of different things
3. Make it one-of-a-kind
4. Check it out: Fly Art

1. Compete with personality

For crowd-funded clothing company Betabrand, it was difficult to compete with tech giants in their area to recruit web developer talent. They had to be creative to get job seekers to notice them. So they destroyed their home page for a day. They used terrible fonts, rotating photos, a visitor counter — all of the stereotypically bad web practices of the 90s. The stunt got the attention of publications like Fast Company and Business Insider, and it lifted their expected sales by 30 percent that day (and even more in the following weeks). They also received 30 qualified applications for their web developer job.

The lesson: Instead of trying to outspend your competitors, why not try to outsmart them with something clever, unexpected, and fun?

Learn more: Betabrand’s Blog

2. Try lots of different things

Gag cartoonist Grigoriy Kogan said he had nothing to lose when he made banner ads by scribbling his ad message onto a white background in what looks like Microsoft Paint. He says that although it was “ugly as sin,” it was so successful that it saved his business. We’re talking about banner ads here — a notoriously ineffective and annoying marketing tool (you’re literally more likely to survive a plane crash than to click on a banner ad). Yet by going against all common sense, he managed to get the right attention.

The lesson: You never know when stuff like this is going to work. Why not experiment with lots of low-effort, creative marketing?

Learn more: Grigoriy Kogan’s Blog

3. Make it one-of-a-kind

Zoo Jeans look completely different from the usual distressed denim you might see in the mall. In fact, they’re kind of ugly with giant rips and holes that don’t look anything like the natural wear and tear design most clothing companies are going for. But that’s because Zoo Jeans are made from denim distressed by actual lions, tigers, and bears. They wrap sheets of denim around tires and rubber balls and leave them in the cage for big cats and bears to gnaw at the fabric and give it a unique distress pattern. After they’re done playing with the denim, the fabric is collected for designers create a pair of jeans. The proceeds from the Zoo Jeans are donated back to the zoo to help preserve the animals’ environments.

The lesson: This product has word of mouth built (or torn) right into it. When someone asks a person wearing Zoo Jeans why their pants look like they’ve been attacked by wild animals, they have a great story to tell.

Learn more: NPR

4. Check it out: Fly Art

“The persistence of Ms. Jackson” is a mashup of famous lyrics from Outkast’s song “Ms. Jackson” and Salvador Dali’s famous painting, “The Persistence of Memory.” This is just one of the amazing combinations of fine art and hip hop lyrics in Fly Art’s collection.

Check it out: Fly Art

Why useful is remarkable

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

We love viral stunts and funny ads as much as the next person. But there’s a more sustainable way to get your customers to talk about you that earns word of mouth for the long term.

Here are three ways to do something so useful your customers can’t help but talk about it:

1. Make recommendations
2. Do more than say “thanks”
3. Make the small details count

1. Make recommendations

When you check out at Barnes & Noble, they give you a list of reading recommendations with your receipt based on what you just bought. That list is a great reason to come back to their store and a great word of mouth tool. What’s something you can put in your customers’ hands they can use right away?

2. Do more than say “thanks”

When our sister brand, SocialMedia.org, held the Brands-Only Summit at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, we were amazed by the fantastic service and awesome food. But everyone was also talking about a particular “wow” moment. When one attendee tweeted, “The foodie in me can’t help tweeting about the yummy egg salad @DisneyMeeting at #grandfloridian,” Disney responded by giving her the recipe. That’s going above and beyond a simple “Thank you.” The recipe was useful for the attendee, but more importantly, an entire conference was talking about this incredibly helpful moment Disney offered.

3. Make the small details count

You can nail the important stuff — like having a great product and amazing customer service — but sometimes it’s the tiniest detail that helps your customers talk about you. For example, entrepreneur Peter Shankman was pleased to find his Uber driver was on time, friendly, and kept his car sparkling. But it was the fact that he had two different types of phone chargers that inspired him to make a breathless video about him.

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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