Posted by: johnocunningham | December 29, 2014

How 3 Low-Cost Marketing Campaigns Delivered BIG in 2014

Year-end is always a great time to look back and see what worked in retrospect, and this year there were at least three notable marketing campaigns that we all remembered. The cost of one of these campaigns was virtually nothing, another had no production cost at all (but did involved a product placement fee), and a third involved minimal production expense only (no advertising or placement costs).

I am listing these ideas below, according to the key defining elements of their success.

1. Challenging Others and Making It Fun. The Ice-Bucket Challenge for ALS started with a social media post of an ice-bucket dump and a challenge to match the dump or donate $100 to ALS. The challenge went viral in a hurry and soon Bill Gates, Bill Belichick, professional athletes from all sports, and most of Hollywood were dumping buckets on their heads. Most of them not only did the dump, they contributed far more than $100 apiece to ALS.

The cost? Zero.

The result? More than $115 million raised in the third quarter alone this year, compared with roughly $5 million raised last year. A step-up of 23 times in revenue for fighting ALS.

2. Using Social Media to Leverage Product Placement. The second biggest low-cost, big-dividends campaign on my list was developed by the makers of the Samsung Galaxy. Reportedly, they negotiated a deal to integrate the Samsung Galaxy into the Academy Awards show in a unique way involving social media, and now everyone remembers the famous “selfie” pulled together by Ellen DeGeneres and all of her Hollywood friends.

The cost? One product placement for one show.

The result? A tweet posted by Ellen got re-tweeted and viewed more than 3.3 million times, and is still being talked about and posted as one of the year’s best pictures.

3. Personalizing Products for Individual Buyers. For nearly a decade now, Coca-Cola sales have been declining in the U.S. as health advocates have attacked soft drinks as contributors to obesity, type-two diabetes, and ailments associated with tissue inflammation. Somehow, having a single Coke on a hot day became a threat to our existence and was no longer fun and refreshing. But then Coke decided to appeal to individual buyers simply by placing their names on the cans (common names, such as “Mary” and “John,” appeared on the sides of six-packs) and then suddenly, sales of Coke rose, albeit slightly, for the first time in several years in those markets where the campaign was tried.

The cost? A new design template for cans.

The result? The “share a Coke” campaign reversed a years-long trend, resulting in a retention of millions of dollars in revenue that would otherwise have continued to decline. Not a permanent fix for a product that is under increasing scrutiny, but a great return on a small investment this year.

All of these 2014 marketing campaigns demonstrate that a little creativity and a little willingness to incorporate “fun” into a campaign can go a long, long way with your marketing dollars !


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