At department stores and supermarkets, I’m often asked to make a small donation to a charity at the cash register. Truth be told, I often choose not to donate. The other day, however, I encountered a scenario in which 100% of customers donated – and, I went to the checkout counter asking if I could donate.
How They Did It
The store was able to accomplish this with a fairly simple tactic. After each donation, the cashier would get on the loud speaker and proclaim, “We just got another donation to the American Heart Association! Can I get a woo hoo?” The request was then followed with a loud “woo hoo!” from a number of people. While shopping, customers would hear these announcements every few minutes.
How could I possibly relate this to virtual events? Well, like an email promotion for your virtual event, the donation was a call to action, in which potential donors needed to understand the value of taking action. Let’s consider some of the particulars.
Announcements over the loudspeaker have been done before, but the use of the “woo hoo” was different. Every time the “woo hoo” was announced, I got a chuckle out of it and other customers did as well. While requesting a “woo hoo” for your virtual event may not be effective, consider ways in which your marketing and promotion can stand out from the many emails in everyone’s inbox.
Give value back to your users. For the donation, the reward was very basic and yet, customers continually opted to receive it. When I approached the cash register, I told the cashier that their “system” was quite clever. Her response was, “So, do you want your woo hoo?” The donation, while important, become secondary to the acknowledgement.
Involve Your Team
At the store, managers had party horns – when a “woo hoo” was announced, the managers would yell “woo hoo!” and then blow the party horns. It felt like a New Year’s Eve party and the horns added to the awareness and fun. For a virtual event, encourage your team to share and promote the event within their social circles, both offline and online. With the vast reach of social networks in the online world, your own team can make a big difference.
Make Participation Infectious
This can be challenging to achieve – after all, you just can’t “make a video go viral”. That being said, I believe that our natural inclination is to “follow the herd”, which is one reason the donation did so well. People donated because everyone else was. But, it had to be easy (the donation was simply added to your purchase at the register) and it had to be well promoted and shared (the loudspeaker). With these elements in place, along with “being different”, the store got every single customer to donate.
Instead of doing the same thing over and over when marketing your virtual event, consider new and creative ways to involve your audience, reward them and keep them coming back. If you can achieve infectious participation, you won’t need to send out as many email blasts.