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A nice, simple word of mouth campaign

Old Navy gives us a great example of a simple word of mouth promotion you can produce in less that 2 hours with zero budget. 

1. Create a simple offer.  Old Navy offers 20% off you say the secret code word ("BFF"). They created a single graphic that explains everything.

2. Make it a group activity.  The code is good for you and a friend. All the copy encourages you to bring someone else.

3. Make it easy to share.  They put up a quicky Facebook event page. At least 10,000 people have received the invitation. (Link)

Lesson:  Word of mouth is really easy.  Don’t let politics, budgets, or technology get in your way.


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  1. Torley September 18, 2008 at 8:49 am #

    This sounds like it was very practical to carry out — I’m curious to hear from Old Navy themselves as to how effective they found this promotion.
    Glad you mentioned not letting “politics” get in the way, because I’ve seen times where a budding “word of mouth” campaign was quashed because it wasn’t considered “professional” enough. I guess that translates to, “Apparently didn’t fit the company image, for whatever malarky-ridden reason.”

  2. Andy Sernovitz September 18, 2008 at 9:39 am #

    A lot of marketers feel they need to spend $100,000 on some super-complex viral/social media project. The point was you can do it without a major up-front cash investment or time investment.
    Of course there is a cost to offer a discount, but they could have spent $1 million on a media buy to promote it, instead of this efficient viral campaign.

  3. Craig Rentmeester September 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    To piggyback on Andy’s clarification, variable-cost marketing programs are almost always profitable, because they don’t have the negative cash-flow upfront.
    It seems that agencies always push for the big media buy to promote a sale, which compounds the discount offered to get people in the store. Your margins are lower because of the sale, and the added cost to distribute the message, not to mention the upfront negative cash flow.
    A little creativity can drive traffic (to a store, Web site, blog, etc.) without having to fork over large amounts of money to buy attention through the media.
    If the offer is relevant, significant, and delivered in a compelling way, people will act no matter the medium — and are probably more likely to act if they hear it from a friend.
    Thanks for the great examples.

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