I don’t know how this happened, but I agreed to run a half marathon in June with a college friend who lives in Arizona. Living in Los Angeles and not having anyone around me locally crazy enough to do it, I downloaded the Nike+ iPhone application to keep me company while I pound the pavement leading up to the big day. As I was begrudgingly running my quota this morning, I realized how my Nike+ iPhone application really made the chore of exercise that much more enjoyable. Not just the fact that you can track how long you’ve been running, how far you’ve gone, average pace and you, of course, can run with your favorite tracks playing, you can also share that information with your network.
Not just the Nike+ network, but you can share on Twitter, Facebook and even give updates on your wall on the big day to get ‘Cheers’ along the way from people connected to you. This, in itself, is great motivation along the way, but it also has a game built into the application called ‘Tag.’ Yep, the same game everyone remembers from your childhood just played virtually. You can play based on distance or time, but the person that is running the shortest distance or the shortest time is tagged ‘It’ until they can outrun someone else.
Basic in it’s principle, this feature boosts the ‘fun factor’ of not only running, but using the application and it no doubt helps the app spread virally through my friends to their friends and so on. Without the same ol’ refer-a-friend approach.
I started thinking of how this applies to our industry and how small businesses could really harness this kind marketing scheme. From offering a free gift to your best client’s friends to group discounts and competitions that engage your clients’ social circle. Taking the first example here, with Valentine’s Day coming up, offering a ‘lonely hearts’ club whereby people can send all of their friends a gift card for your business for Valentine’s Day to show that somebody loves them. Who wouldn’t want to send their friends something to show them how much they care….for free? And this is no different than offering a referral discount or incentive when it comes to the cost of the promotion.
This spin on the traditional refer-a-friend scheme demonstrates the shift in the way businesses must engage and connect with existing clients, but also how to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and attract new clients. By standing back and watching all the big brands prosper online is a mistake for every small business as consumers have begun to demand the convenience and service levels that online media makes possible. How have you used new media to spread the word about your business?