Small Business Ideas

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Did They Have Swedish Meatballs for Breakfast?

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

A sleepover at IKEA for you and 99 of your closest friends!

I love to hear about interesting, unique marketing campaigns. Normally we focus on small businesses – and I realize IKEA is the opposite of small – but the way this particular PR event came about is interesting and applicable to all. It was spurred on by a Facebook page called “I Wanna Have a Sleepover in Ikea.” IKEA didn’t create the original page, but when they found out about it they took the opportunity and ran.

IKEA chose 100 lucky people to do just that – spend the night in their Essex, U.K. store. After they covered their bases by setting a minimum age, pajamas required, etc. they went out of their way to make it fun and memorable for their overnight guests. The lucky 100 received goodie bags with towels, snacks, slippers and more. There were tons of activities including manicures, massages, movies and even a bedtime story read by a local celebrity. Talk about a massive slumber party.

The benefits to IKEA were huge. Free publicity, positive PR – not to mention at least 100 customers for life! But what sets this event apart from so many contests is that it was entirely customer driven. IKEA embraced social media and incorporated it into their marketing actions. Quite simply, they listened to their customers and were open to new ideas.

It reminded me of the grassroots campaign last year to get Betty White to host SNL. If you don’t recall, David Matthews from San Antonio, Texas started the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” in January 2010. Several hundred thousand Facebook users quickly agreed, and by May Betty White was hosting the Mother’s Day special (which was hilarious, by the way – who doesn’t love Betty White?).

So what’s the takeaway?

No matter the company size or industry, we can all benefit from opening the lines of communications and listening when our customers talk. It doesn’t have to be a Facebook page with a celebrity involved. In fact, it may be as simple as a comment made by a client in passing. But be ready to be humbled, because your most successful marketing campaign of 2012 might not come from you or your marketing department. It might come directly from your own customers. If only you’re ready to listen.

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