Need to generate some serious word of mouth marketing about your particular service or products? Decided on that special promotion that could use some serious buzz? Well, it seems all you have to do is play rather fast and loose with the facts. You could even go so far as making someone the president of the United States who was never president of the United States.
That is exactly what Chicago based coupon and deals king Groupon did. They had a special promotion in place for the annual President’s Day weekend but the only thing was they needed to make founding father Alexander Hamilton an American president. So, that is exactly what they did.
Groupon offered a $10 discount on every $40 consumers spent with local merchants over the holiday weekend. Hamilton, of course, is featured on the American ten dollar bill and was the first Secretary of the Treasury for the United States. Groupon has the reputation for being rather inventive with its word of mouth marketing strategies. Take, for example, their counter to Amazon’s announcement that they hoped to see home deliveries being made by drones in the near future. Groupon’s answer? They introduced a unique package delivery system that the company felt had been test and found quite reliable – the catapult.
Jest if you will. They produced a short video hosted by their Senior VP of Innovations Edward Weiss and posted it on YouTube. It drew nearly 130,000 views. Weiss said in a released comment that, “The technology, it’s proven, it’s tested. We’re taking about principles of package delivery that’s been around since the time of King Arthur.”
Do you think that got some serious word of mouth marketing going? So, what happened with the big promotion honoring the presidency of Alexander Hamilton? Well, first of all the promotion was released with the following statement:
“Starting tomorrow, Groupon will be kicking off Presidents Day weekend by giving customer $10 off $40 when the purchase a deal for any local business. The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton – undeniably one of our greatest presidents – and widely recognized for establishing the country’s financial system.”
Aghast, you say? Do we hear the word blasphemy being bandied about? The public response and outcry was simply overwhelming. The word of mouth marketing strategy was reported by everyone from CNN to The Huffington Post and it set the Twittersphere ablaze with commentary. Comments from outrage that Gropon would dare do such a thing, to how stupid is Groupon to think Alexander Hamilton was a president, to the company just being a total joke.
So, among the swirl and the buzz, how did Groupon respond? Well, a comment tweeted by the company simply stated: “Joke? We’d never joke about saving $10!”
So, the next time you need to generate some serious word of mouth marketing you might want to consider some of the unorthodox methods employed by one of the great American online business successes.