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When the “Share a Coke” campaign was launched stateside in 2014, Coca-Cola knew they’d hit something big. Their sales increased by 2%, going from 1.7 billion servings per day to 1.9 billion servings per day and the company proved that connecting with people in some personal way is still the foundation of any successful marketing campaign.

Connection is Key

The way that Coca-Cola capitalized on connecting with people was through reaching individuals with names. Hundreds, and later thousands, of names were printed on Coke cans and bottles, and people, especially teens and millennials, went out to find their own or even those of their friends.

With 5000 or more ad messages reaching a single person per day, research shows that only about 12 will stand out. The “Share a Coke” campaign was one that stood out, leaving an impression that not only made an individual want to purchase a Coke because it had their name but also made them want to share it on social media, creating de facto brand advocates.

Personalization and Positivity Matter to People

Coca-Cola tapped into the importance of personalization and it had a positive, even nostalgic, impact on them. Psychological studies show that people want to share happiness which is why positive news often becomes viral and “beats” negative news in the social media sphere. Coke hit a chord and during the summer of 2014’s campaign cycle, “Coke drinkers shared their personalized experiences more than 250,000 times over that summer with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.”

Something as simple as a name had a huge impact. All it took was a personal touch that connected with people. Enough for them to not only purchase a Coke but to share it with others as something positive – something that brought a smile to their face.

What’s in a Name?

Simply put, when asked why “Share a Coke” was such an international success, Lucie Austin, who was director of marketing for Coca-Cola South Pacific at the time of the campaign’s inception said, “At the end of the day, our name is the most personal thing we have. It’s our fingerprint… our identity… in one word. We gave consumers an opportunity to express themselves through a bottle of Coke, and to share the experience with someone else.”

When It Comes to Business

You may not be Coke, and you may not be in a consumer business – so how does this relate?

Remember that it’s important to personalize – to know your clients by name, not just a number. We use a local print shop, Conlin’s, instead of FedEx because they know us and are willing to work with us. They are reachable and we feel, as a customer, that we are getting the “personal touch.” Plus, because of their personalized service with us, we are very eager to recommend them to our clients and colleagues. Their focus on customers as human beings has made a difference; we are not only loyal customers, we are advocates for them. (Yes, we’ve successfully used our local FedEx offices – but, it’s just not as personal – especially when it’s a mission-critical project.)

Don’t underestimate the power of creating loyal customers – and brand advocates – simply by knowing and caring about each individual client that walks through your door. Know them by name, know their business as well as you can (be curious, ask questions), and witness the power that personalization can have on your business.

Questions to consider:

  1. How have you tried to connect with your customer base? How have you tried connecting with them personally?
  2. What are some other ways you could connect with your customers?
  3. Do your customers want to share what you’ve done for them with others? Why or why not?

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