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The Laugh Heard ‘Round The World

It was the laugh heard around the world. You know, I’m sure you heard it, too — the one behind that Star Wars Chewbacca mask. What started out as Texas woman Candace Payne’s simple attempt to make her friends smile showing the simple joy of buying herself a birthday present that made her laugh has gone viral in every sense of the word. The video, originally posted on Facebook Live, has now been seen by more than 136 million times, and has been shared more than 3.1 million times. I know, because countless friends of mine shared it, and their friends shared it. There was something about the sheer joy of her laugh, and the simplicity of what it took to encourage it.

Chewbacca Mask Video

Kohl’s, the department store where she bought the mask using birthday gift cards, was quick to leverage the viral nature of the post. While they were obviously taking advantage of moment, they did it in a positive way. They put together a plan to deliver a curated package filled with Chewbacca masks for each of her kids, as well as lots of other Star Wars goodies. They also gave the family $2500 in gift cards — a fraction of the amount this awareness campaign for Kohl’s would have cost them in traditional advertising. Jumping at the chance to create even more content, they also filmed a video of their team surprising the family. The flurry of attention resulted in Chewbacca masks like the one Candace purchased quickly selling out all over the country. Everyone wanted one. Clearly, there were no losers in this, and the original video has set a record for the Facebook video with the most views of all-time.

So, what can B2B marketers learn from this viral success?

Pay attention.

There is always a conversation happening around your brand or products. You can either join in and help shape those conversations, or they will shape you. While viral situations like the one Kohl’s finds itself in now may be few and far between, there are lots of smaller opportunities to surprise and delight your fans and customers, using social media. Offering up small things like company t-shirts and other swag can help build loyalty and show fans you’re paying attention to them and their feedback about your brand. On an even more basic level, just engage, respond, and share their posts to let them know you are part of the community.

Have fun.

We know marketing is hard work. It’s full of meetings, brainstorms, planning, presentations, database mining, and reporting. It doesn’t hurt to have fun with it. We believe in it so much here at Pardot, that we encourage a “Keep Pardot Weird” atmosphere around the office, and challenge other marketers to take a break and show off their dance moves on social media. The simple joy of a Chewbacca mask is the same joy that can be found in having some fun at your office, and inviting your customers into the fun. Right now, we’re sending out fun gifts to people who post their #MarketingHappyDance to social media. How much fun? Limited edition Pardot jelly bean dispenser fun! Remember, it’s often a simple smile that people are looking for.

Remember that sometimes selling doesn’t look like selling.

By participating in the viral explosion of Candace’s post, and following up with delivering more goodies to her family, Kohl’s will see their sales increase. People who loved how they handled it will visit the store or their website. They could have done nothing, but instead they created a warm, fuzzy feeling. Sometimes selling can look like something else. Take content marketing, for instance. Content marketing helps your customers by educating or entertaining them (or the holy grail — both!), but it also adds value for your business by helping position you as subject matter experts in your field. That means you are top of mind when it is time for potential customers to make that purchasing decision. Content marketing is selling, although when done correctly, it certainly doesn’t look like what we’re used to from sales. Think about other ways you can sell your product or brand that aren’t traditional selling. How can you engage your community?

There’s no way Candace could have ever known her Facebook post would have been so popular, she actually said she “just wanted to document the fact that the mask belonged to her, and not her 7 year-old daughter or 6 year-old son.” While we can’t predict if our own brand will have a “Chewbacca moment,” we can still be inspired by how one company chose to respond at the speed of social.