How to Handle Haters

It happens. You do your best to satisfy your customers, to deliver on all of your promises, provide great customer service and create CRM: Customer Relationship Magic. … And then someone starts to complain. Maybe you screwed up and the complaints are justified. Maybe it’s a malcontent. Maybe it’s a loon. How do you handle them?

It happens. You do your best to satisfy your customers, to deliver on all of your promises, provide great customer service and create what Denny Hatch used to call CRM: Customer Relationship Magic. … And then someone starts to complain.

Maybe you screwed up and the complaints are justified. Maybe it’s a malcontent. Maybe it’s a loon. How do you handle them?

Me, I was brought up old school …

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women.
That’s “Conan The Barbarian” from 1982, which makes him a Millennial.

But maybe that isn’t the best attitude to bring into customer service. I’ve been reading Jay Baer’s “Hug Your Haters,” which offers a warmer, fuzzier approach to handling these bad-wishers by not treating them like enemies at all. (To be fair, most Internet complainers are out of sword range anyway.)

The 2 Types of Haters

Hug Your Haters, Jay BaerBaer starts with the well-researched assertion that there are two types of complainers.

  • Offstage Haters: Complain to the company in person via a channel like phone, email or direct chat, and want to have their issues addressed. They want an answer.
  • Onstage Haters: Almost always complain publicly via social media, review sites, forums or other public channels, and they don’t necessarily expect a response. They want an audience.

For most companies, most complainers are still in the first category. But the second group is younger and growing fast. In fact, Baer notes that social media itself is making complaining publicly far easier. Specifically, social media makes shallow complaints easier. The kind of post a person might make in a minute, then spend the rest of the day on it, exchanging heated comments with friends.

“When delivered online and in public, a lot of what we call complaints would be classified as a comment if delivered offline, if delivered at all,” says Baer in the book. “Annoyances that formerly would have qualified for an inner monologue of ‘oh, that sucks’ now spur a ‘oh, that sucks and I should share it with the world.'”

Not only do onstage haters complain more easily, they complain more vehemently, upping the rhetoric against the company in order to break through the social media clutter and get that attention.

And, as you saw in Dani Cantor’s post last week, often onstage complainers don’t even want you to reply.

According to Baer, both offstage and onstage haters offer opportunities to brands who understand what they want, and how and when to answer them. He’s created a sort of matrix, called “The Hatrix,” of what you can expect from both kinds of haters based on where they complain and how you respond.

Jay Baer's The Hatrix from Hug Your HatersHow to Hug Your Haters

How exactly do you hug these potentially prickly people? That gets complicated. It depends on the channel they’ve complained in. On some channels, it’s as simple as making a reply comment. On others, you need to take steps to get into direct contact, or find another way to bridge the gap.

“The Hug Your Haters approach is to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time,” says Baer. Even though he acknowledges that it “almost never happens.” There are just too many obstacles for most businesses to deliver on that promise.

The solution he offers are two “playbooks.” One for dealing with offstage haters, and the other for dealing with onstage haters.

For offstage haters, the playbook is “HOURS.”

  • Human (act like one)
  • One Channel
  • Unify Your Data
  • Resolve the Issue
  • Speed (resolve it quickly)

For onstage haters, the playbook is “FEARS.”

  • Find All Mentions
  • Empathy (show it to the complainer)
  • Answer Publicly
  • Reply Only Once
  • Switch Channels

Next Steps

Those are the broad strokes of a very in-depth strategy for dealing with haters. How does that compare to how you handle your haters at your own company? Are you seeing more offstage haters or onstage?

For more on the situation and the strategies, check out Jay Baer’s book, “Hug Your Haters.”

And if you’d like to hear it from Jay Baer himself, be sure to catch the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference, where he’ll be the opening keynote speaker. Baer will be discussing all of these topics and more live during the session!

3 Speed Dating Tips for Marketers

The dating world is a scary and complicated place, but in an effort to find love, some singles try the speed dating route. Because, hey, at least if it’s going to be a bad date, it’ll only last three minutes, right? But when you think about it long enough, you realize marketing is a lot like speed dating. Scared yet?

The dating world is a scary and complicated place, full of poorly written online profiles, ghosting after an awkward first date and friends kindly dropping off copies of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Gilmore Girls Paris Geller Speed Dating
Oh Paris … you scare all the boys.

In an effort to find love, some singles even try the speed dating route, because hey, at least if it’s going to be a bad date, it’ll only last three minutes, right? And when you think about it long enough, you realize marketing is a lot like speed dating. Scared yet?

Consumers are busy, and their attention spans are shrinking. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average attention span in the US in 2015 was 8.25 seconds. Suddenly that three-minute speed-dating date seems like a lifetime to make a connection with a customer.Marketing Speed Dating

But never fear, while I’ve never braved the wilds of speed dating, I have seen it represented rather comically in film and television. And it’s not too much of a stretch to connect what works well in speed dating with what works well in marketing.

Fake It til You Make it1. Don’t “fake it ’til you make it.” People can sniff out a fake in an instant. So, just as it’s wise to not tell a potential date you’re a doctor with three sports cars — when in reality you’re a cubicle drone with a beat up `94 Nissan Sentra — don’t tell a prospective customer your brand is something it really isn’t, just because you think it sounds cool.

Remember what Ron Johnson did to JCPenney? He thought applying Apple-esque store-styling and dumping customers’ beloved discounts was the way to bring the retailer into the future. To make it cool. Unfortunately it was all offbrand.

I couldn’t say it better than this quote from Forbes:

Boutiques/streets, wi-fi, juice bars with smoothies and coffee; no long-term customer of JCP cares about all that crap. JCP got away from what it did best.

Sound of Music Confidence2. Confidence is attractive. Just like in romance, no consumer wants a product or service that’s marketed meekly. There’s a reason the Old Spice Man campaign was both a viral success — garnering almost 105 million views on YouTube and a 300 percent increase of traffic to oldspice.com (opens as a PDF) — as well as a sale success.

Old Spice, a Proctor + Gamble company, targeted both men and women with the campaign. For women, it offered the fantasy of a gorgeous man, and the possibility of their current beaus smelling as good as him; and for men, it offered the opportunity to become the Old Spice Man. P&G took a legacy product, infused it with confidence and sex appeal, and made it relevant to a younger generation.

But your marketing message doesn’t have to be as sexy as the Old Spice Man to be confident. Don’t believe me? Check out this Hubspot post that details five brilliant marketing campaigns for boring products.

If Your Brand’s Future Is in the Hands of Millennials, You Should Be Worried

As marketers, we spend an inordinate amount of time developing strategies and executing campaigns to increase leads into the sales funnel, nurture leads, upsell, cross-sell and retain customers. But as any experienced marketer also knows, a monthly churn rate can often outstrip the acquisition rate — effectively losing customers faster than you’re gaining them. Want to know why?

Group using mobile phonesAs marketers, we spend an inordinate amount of time developing strategies and executing campaigns to increase leads into the sales funnel, nurture leads, upsell, cross-sell and retain customers through elaborate loyalty programs. But as any experienced marketer also knows, a monthly churn rate can often outstrip the acquisition rate — effectively losing customers faster than you’re gaining them.

Want to know why?

Forget the ridiculous phone research surveys (those alone make me want to leave my new automobile manufacturer). Or the online survey interrupters that pop up in the middle of searching for that beautiful little, black dress (“We’d love your feedback!” — um … stop bugging me while I’m still shopping, for starters…).

Nope. I’m here to tell you the problem is what’s going on at the retail level. And, if my colleague’s recent experience at a Comcast/XFINITY store is any indication of our future generation of customer service reps, then all brands are in trouble.

If your brand’s future is in the hands of millennials, you should be worried.

It seems that most customers are in a store on their way home from work because when she entered at 5:30 pm, she was not surprised that there were 20 people ahead of her. So why was there only ONE person servicing the floor?

Every so often she’d see someone (yes, a millennial) come out from the “back,” take a look around at the hoard of customers waiting, and scurry back from whence they came.

When she boldly inquired why the rep was working alone, she was told there were 5 – 6 others working in the back counting cash (… um, can you say “hold up?” Apparently this gal missed the training module ‘What not to say to a customer’).

After my colleague got home and the brand new remote she just picked up didn’t pair with the brand new XFINITY box (that’s a customer service/retention story for another day), she had to return to the store the next day — and wait with the rest of the unwashed masses that were being serviced by one cashier.

No wonder DIRECTV is gaining market share.

And then there’s my local Safeway — another example of how not to let the kids run the asylum.

After spending nearly 45 minutes strolling the aisles and loading $200 worth of groceries in my cart, you’d think the cashier and bagger would do everything in their power to ensure a pleasant check-out experience so that I’d come back again. The cashier (a little older, wiser and a lot more savvy) was trying to get me through the line efficiently, but the millennial bagger found his cell phone far more fascinating than my groceries piling up at the end of the runway.

I finally caught the cashier’s eye and murmured “tell him to put his phone away.” Her response was barely a whisper: “YOU tell him to put it away. No one listens to me.”

So I did.

And he did.

And I filled out the survey at the website at the bottom of my receipt, suggesting it be a store-wide policy that workers leave their cell phones in their lockers. Shouldn’t that be an obvious “rule” in 2016?

When I repeat this story to others, I hear equally challenging experiences from clothing boutiques to shoe stores, cafés to bookstores. Young, entry-level workers choosing to keep their heads down, eyes focused on a tiny screen instead of looking at customers and offering help.

Retail stores, while declining in total traffic as compared to websites, are still the brand face for many businesses. So instead of pouring millions into automating back-end, online, shopping tools and sending me daily emails with specials, invest in some in-store customer service training. My experience with your brand is in their hands. And for the folks at Comcast/XFINITY and Safeway, that should be a scary thought.

My Account Was Hacked! A Lesson in Customer Service

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I love Starbucks. When taking a road trip, I use Google maps to find the closest location when I need a little pick-me-up. When flying, I seek them out in airports. And while recently strolling down the street in Lima, Peru, I spied that familiar green logo and my husband immediately knew I’d have to stop in for my favorite latté.

Several years ago I signed up for their loyalty program, tied my Starbucks card into one of my credit cards and now proudly carry my own personal Starbucks Gold Card that is always “filled” with enough financial credit to ensure I can support my addiction.

I was sitting at my desk last week responding to emails when suddenly an automated email from Starbucks popped up thanking me for “reloading” my Gold Card. I thought it a bit odd, as I hadn’t visited a Starbucks in over a week and usually, as soon as I hit my pre-determined minimum, it reloads on the spot.

A minute later I received another automated email telling me they had “reloaded” my card. “Hmmm …” I thought, “There’s a glitch in their email system because I got that email twice.”

A minute after that, I received another email confirming my Starbucks Card Balance Transfer of $XXX from my Gold Card to a different Starbucks card number.

Wait … What?!?

I looked back at the first reload email and compared it to the second reload email and realized there were two different transaction numbers … And now it all made sense.

It seems someone had hacked into my account, transferred $XXX from my credit card to my Gold Card, did it again, and then transferred the entire amount to their own Starbucks card! I was flabbergasted.

I immediately called Starbucks customer service and the guy on the other end of the phone could not have handled the situation any better if he tried.

Direct Mail Can Fill Your Marketing Bathtub

Direct mail is very effective for prospecting thru follow-up. Many times marketers get caught up in the rush to use digital channels to the exclusion of direct mail. They forget how strong, good direct mail can be.

Most people are familiar with the bathtub theory of marketing, but let me just give a short overview before we start. Your business is the bathtub, it has cracks and leaks (customers leave, or go out of business). Your acquisition programs are the faucets that help to fill the tub with water (new customers). Some customers stay and make more purchases, some don’t need you very often, and then some leak out and move on. When people liked other tubs (your competitors) better, they leaked out and moved on. The trick to keep the bathtub filled is to keep the faucets going and plug as many leaks as possible.

This process focuses not only on acquiring new customers, but on keeping the ones you already have too. That is the real key to maintaining and growing. Direct mail is perfect for this. Direct mail is very effective for prospecting thru follow-up. Many times marketers get caught up in the rush to use digital channels to the exclusion of direct mail. They forget how strong, good direct mail can be. You need a constant flow of marketing to keep filling your tub. Whether you are a B-to-B company or a B-to-C one you need to continue to market effectively.

Now you can’t fill your tub with just anyone. You need to find the right people who need your business. The right people are the ones who need what you offer, can afford what you offer and have a history of using businesses such as yours. Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool for finding these people. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. Creating targeted mailing lists is easy compared with other channels. A highly targeted list fills up your tub quickly. Once you have them in your tub, direct mail will help you with client retention too. This keeps the leaks in check.

These days in marketing, it’s all about the list. We gather more and more information on our customers and prospects so that we can better target our message. That is one of the great advantages of direct mail. There are many choices in mailing lists and with so much information out there about people, filtering the lists into segments for messaging is easy. You can even do this when you don’t know much about your customers. You can run a profiling tool on your data which can append psychographics as well as demographics. This will help you to find more people like your customers.

So, now that you have your tub, you have your faucets on full flow and your leaks are stopped up as much as possible, your direct mail marketing will keep this pattern for you. You cannot stop the process of acquiring new customers and keeping the existing ones. Your direct mail will be the valve that your faucet needs to keep the water flowing.

7 Ways to Thank Your Customers

Saying “thank you” is one of the easiest things you can do to win customers over, regardless of the communication platform you use. After all, buying your product is the most important thing a customer can do to support your business. Your mother had it right when she said, “Don’t forget to say thank you when someone does something for you.”

Saying “thank you” is one of the easiest things you can do to win customers over, regardless of the communication platform you use. After all, buying your product is the most important thing a customer can do to support your business. Your mother had it right when she said, “Don’t forget to say thank you when someone does something for you.”

Saying thank you goes a long way with customers because it’s personal. This small act of celebrating your customers shows that you care about them and appreciate their business. But, of course, there’s a catch. You must be genuine and mean what you say. Thank you doesn’t work if you’re snarling through your teeth. Here are seven ways to thank customers:

1. Mind your manners. Remember your mother’s teachings. People deal with brands they know and those that are interested in them. Be polite and genuinely concerned about your customers.

2. Give customers a helping hand. Follow up and guide them through your support and related product information. This is particularly useful for complex and/or technical products. Companies such as Stacks and Stacks and Intuit do this in different ways.

3. Offer customers a gift. Delight customers and incentivize them to shop with you again by including a promotional offer in your package for a future purchase or another form of bonus.

4. Find out what customers think about your products. Take a page from Amazon’s playbook: Use follow-up emails to entice customers back to your site to review and rate your products and services. If you’re worried what customers might say, keep in mind that it’s better to learn about a customer’s problem directly rather than deal with it after it’s been broadcasted across the internet. Ratings and reviews are a form of social media content that attract prospects and support purchase research. Consumers trust other consumers.

5. Get customers to join the social media party. Use a thank-you email to invite customers to become part of your social media gang, wherever it is — e.g., Facebook page, Flickr group or another social media network.

6. Sign customers up for useful content. Take advantage of your thank-you email to expand your audience for your email program, blog or other form of content. While every marketer wants to expand their list of prospective buyers, this suggestion refers to content that readers find helpful, not promotional messages that focus on buy, buy, buy.

7. Help customers with related product suggestions. Use thank-you emails to suggest related products or other product options for the same products.

To maximize the results of thank-you marketing, include a tailored call to action and targeted promotion code. Consider it old-fashioned, but the biggest thing you can do to win customers over is to thank them.

Do you thank your customers? If so, what do you do and how well does it work? Please share your insights in the comments section below.

Thank you, and happy marketing!

Random Acts of Appreciation

So, will performing random acts of appreciation for your customers make a difference? Absolutely.

Rather than focusing on “the next big thing,” I decided to keep in the spirit of the season and celebrate the little things.

A few weeks ago, I found an unexpected package on my doorstep. It was from an online retailer I shop frequently with. Inside was a lovely, living holiday centerpiece and a note of thanks. While uncommon, gestures like this aren’t unheard of. For example, Starbucks is well known for surprising its Gold Card members with coupons for free beverages. One Starbucks fan blogged, “I have never figured out a rhyme or reason to how Starbucks distributes coupons.”

The difference between knowing that every 15 purchases gets you a free latte versus getting a freebie you didn’t expect is the difference between a transactional and an emotional relationship. A points program is purely a business exchange. The fact that you “earn” rewards clearly indicates this process is a task.

That’s not to say that traditional frequency reward programs aren’t effective. But these programs have turned into a cost of entry for marketers in countless industries. In fact, the average U.S. household belongs to 14 loyalty programs. While they may be popular, points programs are hardly differentiators.

So, will performing random acts of appreciation for your customers make a difference? Absolutely.

Robert W. Palmatier, associate professor of marketing at the University of Washington, studies this effect in his article, The Role of Customer Gratitude in Relationship Marketing. He found that these incremental and unexpected efforts result in feelings of gratitude which, in turn, positively impact purchase intentions. The word gratitude sums it up beautifully.

Ready to give it a go? Here are three rules to keep in mind:

1. It comes out of the blue. The element of surprise creates impact. That’s why they call it “surprise and delight.”

2. It’s about them, not you. A discount or free item is always appreciated, but it should be something your customers really want, not something you need to promote or unload. If you want to send a “gift,” avoid anything emblazoned with your company’s logo.

3. Focus on your best customers. Sounds like common sense, right? Maybe not. For example, if the surprise is a product discount and there’s little to no cost for you to distribute it, you may be inclined to make it available to every customer. In this case, resist the urge. If everyone is special, then no one is.

I never did make use of my centerpiece. Unfortunately, it arrived just as we were going out of town for the week. But the gesture will be remembered and, as they say, it’s the thought that counts. May your new year be brightened by random acts of appreciation.

How Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Saved a Customer

Talk about valuing your customers and providing exceptional customer service! It’s no wonder that GMCR is one of the fastest growing brands out there today, with 11 consecutive quarters of better than 40 percent net sales growth.

I wanted to make public a recent experience I had with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR). My wife, Stephanie, an avid coffee drinker (and a shopping nut, who’s probably better suited to be writing a retail blog than yours truly, who looks forward to a trip to the mall with the same enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist), received GMCR’s Keurig brand Special Edition Single-Cup Brewer system nearly 10 months ago as a wedding shower gift.

Excited at the thought of enjoying GMCR’s specialty coffee blends brewed fresh each morning, Stephanie couldn’t have been happier. After the long, harsh winter we had in the Northeast part of the country, I can attest that the brewer was put to good use. All in all, the Keurig brewer was a hit, making just the right amount of coffee for our house. And Stephanie was a loyal customer, restocking her supply of the specialty coffee K-cups with purchases at local retail stores. That is, until this summer.

The complaints were few and far between at first — it wasn’t always brewing a full cup; the coffee splattered out at the end of brewing, leaving a mess on the counter; and sometimes when turning the machine on to “get ready to brew,” it would make a grinding noise and then just shut down — but grew louder as time went on. So Stephanie decided to take action.

Her first step was to go to GMCR’s website for info. on its warrantied products. After learning that we had a one-year warranty from date of purchase, Stephanie called the customer service phone number listed on GMCR’s website (she didn’t see an email address to send a message to). After providing some basic information — name, address, phone number, item purchased — her call was transferred to a GMCR product technician.

Upon confirming the purchase type and date of purchase via serial number, Stephanie was asked to explain the problems she was having with her Keurig Single-Cup Brewer. The technician on the other end of the line walked Stephanie through some “troubleshooting” ideas, but none of them corrected the problems.

Satisfied that the error lay with GMCR, the technician said a replacement would be mailed out to us within seven to 10 business days. Not only that, but in recognition of her troubles, GMCR was throwing in two boxes of its specialty coffee blend K-Cups as well.

Talk about valuing your customers and providing exceptional customer service! Not to mention the fact that Stephanie reported that both women she spoke with on the phone couldn’t have been nicer and more patient. The whole process took less than 20 minutes. She’s now a fan of GMCR for life. It’s no wonder that GMCR is one of the fastest growing brands out there today, with 11 consecutive quarters of better than 40 percent net sales growth.

Editor’s Note: Make sure to check out the Sept. issue of Retail Online Integration, in which GMCR will be featured as the cover story profile (written before my wife’s personal experience with the brand). Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a brand that’s doing things right.

How Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Saved a Customer

Talk about valuing your customers and providing exceptional customer service! It’s no wonder that GMCR is one of the fastest growing brands out there today, with 11 consecutive quarters of better than 40 percent net sales growth.

I wanted to make public a recent experience I had with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR). My wife, Stephanie, an avid coffee drinker (and a shopping nut, who’s probably better suited to be writing a retail blog than yours truly, who looks forward to a trip to the mall with the same enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist), received GMCR’s Keurig brand Special Edition Single-Cup Brewer system nearly 10 months ago as a wedding shower gift.

Excited at the thought of enjoying GMCR’s specialty coffee blends brewed fresh each morning, Stephanie couldn’t have been happier. After the long, harsh winter we had in the Northeast part of the country, I can attest that the brewer was put to good use. All in all, the Keurig brewer was a hit, making just the right amount of coffee for our house. And Stephanie was a loyal customer, restocking her supply of the specialty coffee K-cups with purchases at local retail stores. That is, until this summer.

The complaints were few and far between at first — it wasn’t always brewing a full cup; the coffee splattered out at the end of brewing, leaving a mess on the counter; and sometimes when turning the machine on to “get ready to brew,” it would make a grinding noise and then just shut down — but grew louder as time went on. So Stephanie decided to take action.

Her first step was to go to GMCR’s website for info. on its warrantied products. After learning that we had a one-year warranty from date of purchase, Stephanie called the customer service phone number listed on GMCR’s website (she didn’t see an email address to send a message to). After providing some basic information — name, address, phone number, item purchased — her call was transferred to a GMCR product technician.

Upon confirming the purchase type and date of purchase via serial number, Stephanie was asked to explain the problems she was having with her Keurig Single-Cup Brewer. The technician on the other end of the line walked Stephanie through some “troubleshooting” ideas, but none of them corrected the problems.

Satisfied that the error lay with GMCR, the technician said a replacement would be mailed out to us within seven to 10 business days. Not only that, but in recognition of her troubles, GMCR was throwing in two boxes of its specialty coffee blend K-Cups as well.

Talk about valuing your customers and providing exceptional customer service! Not to mention the fact that Stephanie reported that both women she spoke with on the phone couldn’t have been nicer and more patient. The whole process took less than 20 minutes. She’s now a fan of GMCR for life. It’s no wonder that GMCR is one of the fastest growing brands out there today, with 11 consecutive quarters of better than 40 percent net sales growth.

Editor’s Note: Make sure to check out the Sept. issue of Retail Online Integration, in which GMCR will be featured as the cover story profile (written before my wife’s personal experience with the brand). Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from a brand that’s doing things right.

Can You Capitalize on DIY?

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

If high-end Swarovski Crystal and YouTube marketer Dynomighty can hit home runs with the same marketing strategy, it’s something every online marketer should think about. The strategy in question is do-it-yourself (DIY) community marketing. DIY projects get popular with consumers when times are tight, and are they ever tight now. These very different marketers are both benefitting from the buzz, brand interaction and organic customer rewards that DIY communities create.

Last week I mentioned Dynomighty, which has had great success with earnest, compelling YouTube marketing. The other thing Dynomighty’s hit on is DIY marketing for its Mighty Wallet. The Mighty Wallet is made from Tyvek (often used in express mail envelopes), which, along with being nigh indestructible, is easily written on and decorated. In fact, Dynomighty sells the wallets in various blank colors (in addition to a ton of designs) for buyers to decorate themselves DIY-style, and encourages them through The DIY Mighty Wallet competition on its Facebook page. The first contest has already been won, another one’s launching June 15.

Dynomighty’s DIY contest reinforces a product benefit — the ability to customize its wallets — to get users to follow its Facebook page, and encourages them to make something they’ll want to show to friends. All for the cost of the creative and a $500 shopping spree. That’s great for a small, gorilla e-marketer like Dynomighty, but luxury crystal brand Swarovski Crystal is doing the same thing in a more formal, international way befitting its own reputation.

Create Your Style with Crystalized – Swarovski Elements is Swarovski’s international DIY blitz that combines in-store demonstrations, contests, conventions, tie-in products (namely crystal jewelry design books), social media marketing and other initiatives to promote the Crystalized line of DIY jewelry supplies. From its Facebook page:

“CREATE YOUR STYLE is the global creative community of CRYSTALLIZED™ — Swarovski Elements, the ultimate crystal brand. It connects like-minded people with a passion for expressing themselves through personal design. CREATE YOUR STYLE has devoted itself to the creation of an inspiring and interactive platform where crystal aficionados from all over the world can exchange creative ideas and obtain advice from experts while getting design and style tips as well as information on international competitions and whatever else their creative heart desires!”

The Swarovski product line is specifically made for DIYers, but the strategy is very similar to what Dynomighty is doing: Promote social networks based on the exploration of your product’s benefits, create product evangelists and reward consumers for interacting with your brand. Swarovski puts a lot more money into its program, but both are attracting followers.

It’s a tactic that can be applied to many products at varying levels of resource commitment. If you sell shoes or clothing, challenge customers to customize fashions. If you sell electronics, build a community around installation and optimization. If you sell collectibles, share techniques for users to make their own, and offer supplies to do so. When your product becomes a hobby, enthusiasts become more committed to your brand and they’ll try to spread that fever to like-minded individuals. DIY is really a breed of highly contagious viral marketing.

How can you create a DIY movement among your customers?