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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 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

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