Consider The Little Things

Giving something back is often a foreign concept in marketing conference rooms. But some companies are doing little things to make the consumer’s life a bit better and to give back to our communities and customers.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in the New York Times about Philips Electronics’ “sense and simplicity” media campaign.

In an effort to promote a clutter-free lifestyle, Philips has been promoting some non-traditional activities in traditional places. they recently bought sole sponsorship of the “ABC World News with Charles Gibson” to extend the amount of programming time, for example. Philips also paid to have those annoying reader response cards removed from various magazines.

In the digital space, there are many similar things we can do:

Social Networks

In these networks, you must appeal to the interests of the community to be accepted within their conversations. A best practice for engaging with this type of community is “give a little to get a little.”

Last year, Fox launched “X-Men: The Last Stand” on MySpace and offered users the ability to mutate their profile’s home page to display 24 friends instead of the default eight. In exchange for this feature, the user had to carry the X-Men profile in their top eight friends.

Sounds fair, right? This is a perfect example of giving a little to get a little. MySpace users reduced their stress regarding whom to carry in their top eight and the X-Men movie was promoted by over 3 million (at the program’s peak) MySpace users. Through platform innovation, the X-Men attracted an unprecedented amount of friends and had a $122+ million opening weekend. Thanks, Fox, for making it easier to manage my friends!

Blogs and Communities

You know your customers’ interests, and likely have reams of reports on where they spend their time or what they aspire to do in life. Chances are, you’re marketing in the mainstream online channels that cater to these interests. What about some of the smaller, lesser-known channels such as online forums or communities that host conversations about your customers’ passions?

Some of the most active blogs and forums relevant to your brand and products may be run as a hobby by a single or group of passionate consumers. Budgets may be minimal, as it’s not a full-time job. They’re simply running the site to maintain their curiosity or desire to spark conversation on mutual interests.

While these sites may accommodate advertising, consider something different, such as sponsoring a user prize-giveaway contest. How about asking site operators what features they would like added, then provide those services to keep the site humming along. A rounding issue for your marketing budget could go a long way for an online community.


The shareware market continues to grow with custom applications that cater to unique computing needs. I compose my columns with a program called WriteRoom , which does the one specific thing I need: it blocks all distractions and gives me a clean, clutter-free screen on which to write.

The program costs $29.95. For this money, the developer promises to write more programs for my Mac. What would an infusion of $5,000 from an advertiser give this developer the capability to do? Chances are users would benefit more from this than your banner ad.


With every next-generation console boasting online connectivity, the opportunity to enhance the game experience has never been greater. The Discovery Channel promoted its new “FutureWeapons” show by giving gamers two downloadable extra levels to the popular X-Box Game “Gears of War.” Thanks to Discovery, millions of Gears of War fanatics had their $59.99 game investment extended with additional hours of play. In-game advertising may be all the rage these days, but why not give a gamer what he or she really wants: more gameplay?

We often forget how much power the media dollar has. Sometimes, it’s the little things that get the most attention. You may even be thanked for your efforts. That’s what I call quality engagement.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.