Free Candy Calms Critics

If you're not pulling at a person's emotions, you're not creating a lasting impression. Unfortunately, the emotion most marketing elicits these days is anger. Here’s how to climb over that anger wall.

First off, no one wants to be “marketed” to. So entertainment marketers have a definite advantage here, as social media is a form of entertainment. And an entertained audience is much more open to word-of-mouth marketing, aka, sharing your stuff. 

And once you have WOM, you have the perfect foot in the door to turn your audience into advocates. So how do you create WOM, and what do you do next?


Look at sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Their entire business model is built on the premise that any line drawn in consumers' proverbial sand regarding a sales pitch is quickly blurred by the right incentive. 

So once you've gotten their attention by capturing the emotions they feel for your brand, you can offer them a good reason to share those good vibes with their friends. As long as the answer to "What's in it for me?" is something worthwhile, consumers are in. 



Of course, that's why brands have scrambled to list deals on Groupon and similar sites, because consumers are so willing, and because they only have to live up to the deal if enough people take advantage of it. 

It's a great system. But here again, it's not the only way to go. 

Brands have needs, too

As great as Groupon is, it's not perfect. Because once the minimum number of people take the deal, brands must live up to their end. This is always a gamble between lost revenue in the short term, in hopes of continued patronage in the long term. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But depending on the offer (and Groupon's cut), it can be kind of high stakes. 

Places like ReferralCandy offer an alternative to this model, by building on WOM and offering rewards based on referred sales. Here again is where entertainment marketers have a leg-up, because people already love your product, sometimes obsessively so. 

So when consumers make a purchase, you offer them an incentive for referring a friend, say, 20% off their next purchase. Then when their friend makes a purchase (or whatever parameters you set as a brand), they receive their reward, and the friend (now a new customer) receives the opportunity to refer a friend as well. 

Here's the beauty of this kind of approach: It sets up each customer to be a brand advocate, simply because they want more of what they already love (that “Game of Thrones” DVD set or action figure) at a discount. And the service does all the work. 

It's all about how you pitch

The lesson here is not so much that entertainment brands and marketers can get away with more than the average (though they can), but that they have the opportunity to tap into consumer emotions, offering rewards for behaviors consumers ultimately want to take already. And gaining new customers in the process. 

When you start with getting to know people on social, and appealing to their emotions first, you gain their business. Once you have that, you can incentivize additional spending, putting consumers to work for your brand. Now that’s smart marketing.

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