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Carol L Schroeder

Curling Cues

January 29, 2014

Norwegian Curling TeamOf all the winter Olympic sports, curling has to be one of the least popular. And yet pictures of the Norwegian curling team are being eagerly shared all over the world on Facebook and other online media. Why? Because their uniforms are so... Colorful. Controversial. Clashing. And totally unrelated to curling, when it comes down to it.

The unexpected and rather outrageous boldness of their outfits is what makes the Norwegian curling team's uniforms share-worthy. And therein lies a great truth for those of us trying to get customers excited about what we are doing in our businesses. Because business as usual is not, in most cases, all that interesting.

But you've created something interested as soon as you do something unexpected, such as ordering a 4' tall giraffe to put in your window, hosting a pajama party shopping evening, or sponsoring a contest for the best Valentine's Day poem.

Of course it's important to have a great visual, or even better a short video, to tell the online world what you are doing. If it's clever enough to be shared or at least commented on, your views will be extended. And you can reach potential new fans by paying a small amount to promote your Facebook post (as long as it meets Facebook's criteria, which mostly have to do with not mentioning alcohol or using too many words in the illustration) to those who have not already "liked" your page.

It may pay to hire a photographer, or videographer, to help you get the best images possible. You might also check with your suppliers to see if they have any photos that can be used, or are willing to donate prizes if you sponsor an event or contest. This type of cooperation works well for all concerned, and is an idea most retailers never pursue.

Ordering something that is a bit out of the ordinary could mean that you still have it in stock after the promotion. But if you think of it as a loss-leader to bring customers into the store, it won't hurt as much to mark it down later -- or to give it away. The bright outfits of the Norwegian curlers won't help them curl better (although they did win a silver medal in their jester-inspired pants in Vancouver in 2010). But they get them noticed, and talked about. And in today's world of social media, that counts for a lot.