business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Popular opinion is by nature a sign of what’s popular, even if it may not be correct. But if you are looking for a new marketing idea, I have a thought about how popular opinion provides some excellent guidance.

At the recent IGA/National Grocers Association (NGA) combined shows in Las Vegas, there was a clear sign of how what’s popular can translate into quick action. And from that small idea there might be a clue for some great customer involvement.

During one break in the IGA conference, which I happen to moderate annually, a social media marketing company called AR Marketing offered a simple challenge: take the most creative selfie and win a nice little prize. Once in the break area the attendees found small props such as glittery sunglasses and false mustaches and the ubiquitous selfie sticks.

And people went nuts!

There were so many photos taken and some were so creative that on the fly AR Marketing had to add two additional prizes to reward people's efforts.

In the days that followed at the NGA show, AR Marketing continued the effort by featuring cut outs through which attendees could stick their faces and have a Las Vegas themed photo taken. And once again, people couldn’t stay away.

(Okay, let’s get this out of the way: it’s not a selfie if someone else takes the picture, but why quibble.)

It got me, and I’m betting many others, thinking: if selfies are so popular, why aren’t they ending up in merchandising events for shoppers. After all, with just a few rules to maintain decorum and food safety, it should be relatively easy to challenge shoppers to take the most creative selfie while shopping your store. We know they all have their smartphone cameras out already.

The contests could be focused around specific products or displays, adding an element of new fun to the usual shopping trip. It might even create some fun interaction between staff and shoppers, although again you’ll need to set some boundaries.

Better yet, what about selfie competitions involving recipes distributed by stores to show consumers making each dish and having some fun with it. As restaurants are finding out the hard way, people love posting photos of their food.

So encourage people to send in those pictures, post the entries on your own social media sites and encourage voting. As numerous contestants in NGA Creative Choice competition demonstrated, social media can generate amazing customer response with only a minimal amount of effort on the part of the store or the shopper.

As AR Marketing found out at the IGA event, the only downside to such activity might be that it generates far more entries than anyone expected, which is hardly a downside.

In one swoop you could get customers talking about your stores and products, create some interesting buzz and build a climate of fun and involvement.

Just a simple idea that started in Vegas…but it's one that certainly shouldn’t stay just there.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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