2 Ways Customers Can Be Your Virtual Marketing Department

A previous blog post covered a 6 Step Plan to build your business with referrals. Current customers are your best source for new customers. Beyond traditional referral marketing, there are tons of ways to turn your customers into a virtual small business marketing department. Here are two:

1. Run a Contest like the World’s First Geek Marketing Contest

Small businesses typically have tight marketing budgets. That’s one reason ideas like Axosoft’s World’s First Geek Marketing Contest: Win $5,000 for Your Idea offering $5,000 to a fellow “Geek” who comes up with the best way to market their products to other geeks.

Like Axosoft, run a contest where you ask for marketing ideas, offering a prize to your favorite one. The thought behind this: your customers might know how to appeal to other potential customers.

This contest not only drives out some good (and not so good) marketing ideas, but creates buzz for Axosoft as well! That’s the bonus: If you make the contest interesting enough (unique prize, unique angle of some sort) the contest itself can be a marketing event like what happened with Mentos geyser videos.

2. Offer Free Co-Marketing

Offer to prominently feature customers in your marketing material, product site, or blog. Ask customers to submit pictures, short articles, or videos of their success stories with your product or service. Let them know you will pick one or two per month to be featured. If you buy paid advertisements in industry magazines or websites this is an opportunity for your customers to win free advertising time! If you have a widely read blog or website, this is an opportunity for customers to get exposure they could not buy otherwise (such as was done by 37signals).

Sounds good for your customers, but how does it help your marketing? Three ways: 1. It is always helpful to see how others view and use your product. Review customer submissions for themes or angles that might appeal to future prospective customers. 2. You get ready-made promotional material. 3. Even the submissions you don’t use are sure to be packed full of great testimonials to add to your testimonial stockpile!

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