There is an age-old marketing campaign that businesses have been using pretty much as long as anybody can remember: Bring a friend. It typically offers a plethora of bargains and discounts to someone for bringing in a new customer and usually a little something-something for the friend, too. Don't just tell a friend, bring them in, kicking and screaming if necessary. Now that's how to get new customers! Whatever the promotion includes, be it a discount, a contest entry, a candy bar, whatever, it really seems to work.
In fact, people who appreciate shopping together—much like moms, gaggles of teens and people who use the mall as a primo dating spot - probably have a treasure trove of contacts they could introduce to a business if it's worth their time.
Bring a friend marketing is worth it
Being the self-marketers they have to be to keep their businesses afloat, independent product consultants have relied on this marketing plan for years with great successes. Enticed by the possibility of free products and extra contest entries, home party attendees have been bringing their friends to other friends' parties for ages, often resulting in higher sales numbers for the sales rep in question. Raise your hand if you've been to a Tupperware party at a stranger's house. Now raise the other hand if you left spending more money than intended. Know that you are not alone.
Swedish furniture makers gettin' in on the action
Hard-partying Tupperware sellers aren't the only ones making the most of customers' valuable friendships: IKEA, the Swedish retailer known for its blue and yellow big-box furniture solutions, used a similar campaign to get more customers into its stores earlier this year. The company used a more modern approach to the timeless marketing strategy by integrating Facebook actions into the mix.
The "Bring Your Own Friend" event, or "BYOF" for short, invited Facebookers to get information on the social media site, then "like" the page to see the super-secret deals available to people who brought friends on a certain date. Those Facebookers could invite their friends through the site, upping brand visibility during the promotion. IKEA then offered up free meals in the stores' cafes, discounted rates - even a chance to win a shopping spree, in which case a friend would be really helpful because everybody knows it's impossible to assemble IKEA furniture alone.
Key component to a customized 'BYOF' campaign
Customers will never consider bringing friends to a business they don't trust and visit themselves, especially if the promotion isn't worth their time. Then comes the issue that a person's friends won't want to accompany him or her to the store if it's not worth their time. See how this can be a vicious cycle? Combat it by offering appealing discounts at the cost of bringing brand-new customers into the store—a benefit that could pay for itself many times over.