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Often, customers and real people turn out to be better marketers than we are. Of course, it takes a little creativity to get them involved, but once they get there, you’ll see why their word of mouth is more economical, authentic, and sustainable.

Here’s why:

1. They have more friends than you
2. They use your stuff in the real world
3. They can spark movements

1. They have more friends than you

Every year, Doritos gets hundreds of Super Bowl commercials for the price of one. That’s because they hold a contest for their fans to submit their own homemade Doritos commercials for a chance to have it aired during the Super Bowl. That means hundreds of videos uploaded and hundreds of people spreading the word about their work by asking friends and family to vote for their submission. In the end, it’s not about buying a ridiculously expensive Super Bowl commercial, but about giving regular people the spotlight.

2. They use your stuff in the real world

Trello is an online project management tool that helps you do work more efficiently using workflows. And while our office geeks about efficiency tools like this, to the rest of the world, this might be a boring product. Trello knows that, and it’s why they feature their not-so-boring customers using it, like this coffee and bicycle repair shop in Chicago. Trello even shares screenshots and templates of their actual workflows for sales pipelines, managing pop-up spaces, and tracking bike repair orders.

3. They can spark movements

You’ve probably already heard of Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving dedicated to shopping at small businesses. Now, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the day after Christmas, it’s become a part of American consumer culture. But did you know that Small Business Saturday was started by American Express back in 2010? What started as a way to drum up business for their customers has turned into a huge national shopping day — not because American Express ran a big ad campaign, but because they made it about their customers.

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