Creativity, Marketing

Generating Warm Leads With The Ice Bucket Challenge

By , August 28, 2014

Would you enjoy having an ice cold bucket of water dumped over your head? Apparently, there are thousands of people out there who actually do. Or so it seems based on the many viral videos circulating of people dumping water on each other in support of something called the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Conceived by the ALS Association – an organization dedicated to the research of Lou Gehrig’s disease – this inimitable challenge requires participants to have a bucket of ice water poured on their head or donate money to the cause. Those participating can nominate others and post a video online showing how they joined the movement.

Although you may be very familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge and have already laughed your way through dozens of clips showing people getting drenched in all sorts of hilarious ways – from former president George W. Bush and Mitt Romney to celebrities, camps and sports teams, you may not be as aware of the serious debate this campaign has caused in the world of marketing.

Articles in The New York Times, Fox News, Yahoo, and dozens of other media outlets are all dissecting the outcome of this seemingly successful campaign to establish if it indeed was a winner.

Let’s have a look at the hard facts.

During the first two weeks of the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, people shared more than 1.2 million videos on social media. But during that time, the ALS Association received donations from about 107,000 new donors.

These numbers mean that although 1.2 million people technically partook in the campaign, only 107,000 people actually wrote out a check – which, of course, was the ultimate goal here.

This phenomenon is called “slacktivism.” It’s used to describe a situation where people believe they’re partnering in a good cause, but are actually slacking off by not carrying out the end-result. For example, the practice of engaging in virtual support such as “liking” a page on Facebook without supporting the charity – or in this case, posting Ice Bucket Challenge videos without giving any money.

So the question begs to be asked: Is the Ice Bucket Challenge a colossal failure?

No way! It’s still a splashing success and here’s why.

There’s a theory marketers call “the foot-in-the-door technique.” It implies that if somebody agrees to take a small action for you right now, they are more likely to agree taking a bigger action for you in the future.

So while the person dumping water over their head is only committing to getting wet for the cause, the next time they receive an envelope in the mail from the ALS Association, they’re more than likely to respond positively.

Furthermore, they previously had no exposure to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Their newfound connection to the disease will make them more likely to pay attention the next time the subject comes up and, in some small way, transforms them into an advocate. All thanks to a plastic bucket of chilly water.

Where does this leave all of us who have not had the opportunity of creating Ice Bucket Challenges for our own business or organizations? It leaves us with some very relevant Ptex Practical pointers:

Land the Investment: Ever been to a supermarket where they have a table giving out food or snacks? You chat with the employee and take a free sample. Congratulations – you are now invested in the product and are more likely to start buying it. The lesson here? Find an idea that forces soon-to-be-clients to invest a bit of their time or energy with you now; it’ll pay off later.

Make it Enticing: There’s a reason why blood banks make lavish bagel buffets for donors after blood is donated – and it’s not because they don’t want them to faint. People by nature like helping others in need. But nobody enjoys getting a needle jabbed in the arm. So put an outwardly unrelated incentive into the picture… and suddenly the needle doesn’t feel so sharp anymore.

Keep it Different: Back to the ice bucket challenge again. It’s different. It grabs attention. It forces you to look. There’s nothing better than watching a snooty Wall Street banker getting his Brooks Brothers suit soaked. Do you think this campaign would’ve had the same appeal if it required you to read a long book or peruse a thick brochure? Exactly.

In all, no matter what sophisticated “foot-in-the-door technique” you consider choosing to land potential clients and generate new leads, keep in mind that the only thing standing between you and your bottom line… might be a simple bucket of icy water.

Onward and upward,

Meny Hoffman

P.S. While on the topic of the Ice Bucket Challenge, who is the one person you’d want to see get absolutely drenched? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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  1. I am nominating Satmar Bikur Cholim with your money! Before the Helige Teg let’s drench them with money to be able to continue their holy work providing for patients needs! call them at 718 8556666 or 7182375585 or email your pledge to