Marketing Campaign Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Jessica Lunk The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the type of campaign marketers dream of – a viral, revenue-producing campaign that has everyone talking about your brand. While you may not come up with the next Ice Bucket Challenge, you can run with a few key takeaways to make sure your next marketing campaign is a success. Simplicity is Key. There is no secret formula for making something go viral – often it’s a perfect storm of creativity, influence and current events that boil down to the perfect recipe for an infectious campaign. But you have to start somewhere on your quest to reach more people with your message, so start with simplicity. The ALS challenge is super simple to understand and act upon, so that anyone, and everyone, can participate. Audit your next marketing or social media campaign for ease of use and eliminate any unnecessary steps that may hinder involvement. Influence is Everything. Former Boston College baseball captain, Pete Frates, is credited with helping the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral. Frates, who is battling ALS, participated in the challenge, and his connections in the sports world took it from there. Since then, global celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey have participated in the challenge, using their star power as a platform to reach millions of people with the campaign. Before you launch your marketing campaign, think about how you can rally the influencers in your network to participate so you can get the most leverage out of your campaign efforts. Innovation Beats Budget. ALS could have poured a lot more cash into a much less effective channel. Instead, with an innovative social campaign, they reached millions of people and received a ten-fold increase in donations. While you can’t always bet on a viral marketing campaign, you can refuse to meet the status quo. Track where you are spending your budget and the impact of that spend to highlight programs that are working and ones that aren’t. Think outside of the box to achieve the same results at a lower cost. For instance, could allocating spend away from a niche conference to a direct mail piece be more effective for reaching more prospects? Can capturing leads from a freebie-offer on your website be more effective than purchasing a cold list of contacts? You won’t know until you test, and taking a creative approach can pay off. Marketing Makes an Impact. Sometimes, especially when it’s difficult to track your marketing efforts, marketing can feel like fluff. But, between July 29 and Aug. 21, the ALS Association had received $41.8 million in donations, compared to just $2.1 million during the same time period last year. Brand awareness and relationship building have everything to do with the success of your company. You can have a great product, the best service or the most noble cause, but if no one knows or trusts your brand, they aren’t going to invest in you. Whether you’re a digital marketer, social media maven, or in the creative department, tracking your marketing efforts back to ROI can show just how valuable you are to the big picture. Maybe you won’t come up with the next “Harlem Shake” or “Ice Bucket Challenge,” but who knows, maybe you will. In the meantime, focus on simplifying your message, building relationships with influencers, out-innovating (instead of outspending) your competitors, and measuring marketing impact to grow your business.