Basically, there’s not much kindness, or selflessness in marketing, especially if you take into account its eventual selling-focused goals. But in today’s Internet-driven world we want to see human beings behind products and services we buy, not just selling-programmed machines. It’s hard to imagine a customer who won’t appreciate a brand doing something nice without any apparent benefits.
What is a random act of kindness?
Imagine arriving at a toll on the highway and being informed that someone from the previous car has already paid for you. Or, imagine getting on the train and being handed a valid ticket by a stranger who is getting off. Or, imagine a stranger complementing the way you’re dressed in a few words and just walking away.
These selfless actions randomly done to help, make others feel better or to cheer them up, they are called random acts of kindness. One of the first examples is the Free Hugs Campaign originating from Australia which involves offering free hugs to strangers since 2004.
Spontaneous or planned, these acts are sort of kaizen-like gradual ways of improving the world and changing it into a better place in which people can do something for others without expecting anything in return. Everyone can contribute.
Everyone means marketing teams as well, and they do.
Random act of kindness in marketing
Random acts of kindness turned out to bring some awesome results when taken by brands, perhaps because they were even more surprising than when they came from ordinary people. One doesn’t expect anything kind from a corporation. Or, do they?
A couple of years back a Canadian guy sent an e-mail to Samsung HQ asking if they could spare him a free Samsung Galaxy S3 offering a picture of a dragon he drew in return. Before long he received a message from Samsung saying that they basically don’t dispatch their smartphones for free to anyone who just asks. To cheer him up, though, they attached a picture of a kangaroo on a unicycle.
Astonished, the guy posted Samsung’s e-mail on Reddit, which quickly became a viral hit. Then, the company actually sent the guy a free S3 smartphone with the dragon imprinted on its back cover, which he posted on Reddit again gaining even more attention. A presumably involuntary and random act of kindness from an employee brought incalculable marketing value for Samsung.
Of course, it’s just one example, but there are many other similar stories that went viral, with most of them being much alike in terms of lack of planning and funding, as well as fortuity. But is it possible to include RAKs as part of a thought-out strategy?
Well, it might be tricky, given that when you start offering RAKs as part of your marketing plan, they may quickly lose their authenticity and the audience may just get used to them and eventually bored. The back door for tapping into the random acts of kindness world may lead through content marketing.
Creating extremely valuable content is an act of kindness
The story of the company I currently work for might serve as an accurate example of implementing acts of kindness in marketing.
It’s a Polish online accounting and invoicing company offering its services to freelancers and small businesses. A sort of Polish Xero.com equivalent. Obviously, there’s not a lot awesomeness in accounting, but there’s always room for being kind and cheering up others, especially if you can identify what’s bothering your clients.
SMBs in Poland have to deal with a very complicated law system, which is often changed and rewritten making it even more intangible. Laws and regulations are written in a very bad style, with hundreds of multi-level references and seemingly endless sentences of up to ten lines or more. Hence, small business owners desperately need experts who can translate this nonsense into the commonly used language.
Thus, the focal point of the content strategy we came up with was to offer Polish SMBs with real help in terms of translating law gibberish into intelligible, concise and reader-friendly content. The idea was just to offer simple explanations of issues seemingly incomprehensible to ordinary people on a consistent basis and without any promotional angle. Tere are ten new articles published every week.
The idea just hit the jackpot. Some of the most popular articles received hundreds of likes, shares, retweets and comments, even though you wouldn’t expect people to show their admiration for accounting and invoicing. Random readers kept thanking us for our efforts, showing their disbelief in words such as: “No way, this can’t be that simple!”
In this case, it turned out that acts of kindness actually can be planned and can be included in a well thought-out strategy without losing authenticity. You just need a lot of understanding for your audience, which allows you to figure out their woes.
In fact, every prosperous content strategy does involve similar acts of kindness. They just require finding a niche and they don’t necessarily have to be random.
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