Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The (Ice) Bucket List

Chances are, unless you’ve been stranded on a deserted island without any contact from the outside world for the past 30 days, you or someone you know has likely participated in one of the most successful marketing campaigns in the history of, well, EVER.

In the fiscal year ending July 31, 2013, the ALS Association received just over $19 million in donations.  Between July 29 and August 29 of this year, nearly 750,000 new donors gave more than $100 million. The reported average donation was $46, with some donors contributing as much as $100,000. To what can this astronomical increase be attributed? A bucket of ice water.

The actual origin of the ALSA Ice Bucket Challenge is a little fuzzy. Some say that a minor-league golfer from Florida might have been the first to dedicate his ice bucket shenanigans to the ALSA and others contend that it was actually a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS himself who really set the viral craze in motion. Whichever is true, one thing is beyond contention – it worked.

Much can be learned from the success of a marketing campaign that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Here are a few cubes of icy wisdom that can apply to nearly any business model:


People love passion, and passion is difficult to fabricate. Customers (or potential customers) will be able to feel your love for the product or service you are offering if you put your all into it. If you really have passion for what you do, people can’t help but be drawn in. Put aside, for a moment, the drudgery of day-to-day operations and focus on what made you want to start in the first place.


One of the reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge took off so quickly is that there was a stated deadline. Participants were instructed to complete the challenge within 24 hours. This same method can be employed in every marketing campaign. Make your customers feel as though they will miss out on something special or important if they delay in responding, whether that be rushing into your storefront or responding via email to a limited time offer.


A container. Some ice. Some water. Less than 30 seconds. Things that nearly everyone on the planet has immediate access to. The simplicity of the challenge is astounding. People are busy, and people are distracted. Overcomplicating your marketing campaign will have the opposite effect that you desire. Whatever it is that you’re doing, make it easy on the customer and consume as little of their precious time as possible.  Emails should be short and to the point. Signage must make all pertinent information visible at a glance. Simple.


According to Search Engine Journal, 93% of marketers use social media for business. Are you one of them? If not, you may be missing out on the 72% of internet users with social media accounts. There are over one billion users on Facebook alone, not to mention Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Tap into this wellspring of potential subscribers now!

Perhaps the biggest lesson from the ALSA Ice Bucket Challenge is that anything is possible. The sky’s the limit! An obscure disease and a little known foundation were thrust into the limelight through a simple and profoundly effective campaign. Who’s to say that the same thing can’t happen to your business?