What the Ice Bucket Challenge Teaches Us About Marketing

icebucketIf you use social media, last summer you undoubtedly watched a countless number of videos consisting of celebs and non-celebs alike having buckets of ice cold water dumped over their heads. The Ice Bucket Challenge was created to increase awareness of and raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease as it’s also called. The campaign went viral on social media in during July and August last year wherein tens of millions of dollars was raised for this very good cause.

Many of us witnessed people participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge on our Facebook and Twitter feeds as we amusingly watched on as people doused themselves with ice water and challenged others to do the same or donate money to the cause. Here are a few marketing lessons we learned from watching all this unfold.

Make Participation Easy

Marketers are always asking people to do things like registering to win prizes, tweeting to get discounts and creating accounts for receiving new updates. While asking people to do these things works to a certain extent, it doesn’t usually do much as far as creating a buzz is concerned.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was fun for those participating as well as for the non-participants who enjoyed watching peoples’ reactions after they experience a bucket of ice cold water being dumped over their heads. The challenge made participation easy as anyone could do it as there was no special talent or resources required. To partake in the challenge, all you had to do was use your smartphone to film yourself having ice water dumped over your head, upload the video to your social channel(s) and then tag/invite others to participate. The lesson to be learned here is that marketers should focus more on making participation easier as people are more willing to take a desired action if they find that action to be simple, fast and easy.

Clearly Identify the Goal or Cause

The goal of the Ice Bucket Challenge was crystal clear – to spread awareness and raise money for ALS research. The massive success of the ALS challenge is a good reminder to marketers that consumers respond well to simplicity and direct messaging. When running a marketing campaign, make sure the desired action or goal is simple and easy for your targeted audience to understand and don’t forget that simplicity almost always works in your favor.

Create Urgency as It Motivates People

The Ice Bucket Challenge involved giving those tagged the choice between taking the challenge and donating money – both which were to be done within 24 hours of being notified. When marketers do the same, they’re more likely to get people to take the desired action as creating a sense of urgency is very motivating. For example, if you’re planning on giving away an ebook containing information your targeted audience is sure to value in exchange for their contact info, set a deadline date for receiving the ebook to help ensure people sign up.