Of course, I did exactly as I was told while I rode up the gondola for my first run of the season. I easily downloaded the iPhone app (although it wasn’t required). I entered the unique code on my lift ticket, and, just like that, I am able to boast and spread the word about how much fun I’m having at Heavenly to all my friends.
Which begs the question:
Are you making it stupid easy for your customers to share their experience with their networks?
If they loved you or hated you, you know they want to talk about you. Let’s assume you’re doing everything right from a customer experience standpoint. More often than not, they love you. Regardless of your budget, you have the ability to learn from, use some of the principles, and stop making budget your excuse for not being social.
Let’s look at what Heavenly is doing, and then talk about what good ideas we can steal from them:
- When I logged in, I provided an email address and I started getting shareable notifications as I completed activities.
- Photographers are stationed all over the mountain in bright green uniforms. They’ll scan your lift ticket then take a few photos. Instantly, your photos are ready for you to view and share on the networks. For free. They don’t want to charge you to share a digital photo of yourself with a Heavenly logo on Facebook. That would be stupid. You can, of course, buy high resolution images.
- I can compete with others on vertical feet, skier days, and miles skied by tracking on the leader board.
- I get pins and badges for accomplishing certain things such as skiing on my birthday, on a holiday or for achieving milestones each day/season.
Epic Mix was expensive to develop and implement, no doubt. From the tickets with GPS capabilities, to scanning at every chair, to the photographers, and badges and gamification. What they have succeeded in doing is create a brand strategy based on peer pressure and jealousy. I want to be there. Bad. And I want to beat my friends so I need to go more often.
As marketers, we are mere facilitators in the customer experience. We are here to build something and get out of the way: Let your customers become your army of marketers. Word of mouth from friends, family, and influencers is far more powerful than the propoganda we’ve been putting out before the dialogue became two-way.
What’s that? You aren’t in a position to build your own social network and app? I didn’t think so. That’s OK: Consumers are becoming fatigued by apps, social networks, and contests so this strategy would only be recommended for a minority. You should be thinking about how you can make it ridiculously easy for your customers, guests, clients to share their experience within existing infrastructure.
I’ll start the conversation with a few ideas, but I’d love to hear from you:
- Set up photo opportunities and suggest they share it on Facebook. Take it one step further and ask them to tag you so the photo goes on your Facebook page.
- Create a hashtag on Instagram and let your guests know about it. Using SnapWidget, you can automatically import that hashtag’s photos to a gallery on your web page. Hilah Cooking does this on her blog crowdsourcing subscribers’ photos of her recipes.
- Don’t re-create social networks; use the ones your guests and customers are already using! Encourage them to check in on Foursquare, review you on Yelp (even if you’re a service business, you should be on Yelp!). Get email addresses whenever possible – this could be at arrival at your location, or when they download a piece of content from your website. Use that email to follow up and share a link to your Yelp page for them to review, or remind them to post photos be it on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
You could be a service provider, a technology start-up, a resort destination or real estate developer. You could be a retailer, restaurateur, or winemaker. It doesn’t matter – there are ways to apply this concept to your business model. Foster word of mouth marketing by giving your customers the tools they need to do so. If you don’t ask, you may not receive.
What business are you in? Let’s brainstorm how we can put this to work for you.