This is attribute #6 of the Top Ten Attributes of a Guerrilla Social Media Marketer. (unedited excerpt from my upcoming November 2010 book published by Entrepreneur Press and co-authored with Jay Levinson):
#6) Free and Variable
It is important to use free digital give away’s that have real value and customer benefits. Then of course we need a variety of paid options to upgrade to. One size fits all doesn’t work anymore, people want very personalized options tailored to their particular taste and desires.
Lego.com effectively applies the concept of free and variable and is profiting greatly from it. Using soft steps to gradually build consent from the customer is a key guerrilla strategy. Starting with free and highly interactive games kids and adults alike quickly develop a loyalty and positive association to the Lego brand and the toys in the game. There’s not one, two or ten games; there are dozens with varying complexity and appeal.
Of course the real winner is the free Lego DesignByMe downloadable software. This digital design software allows the user to virtually build Lego models using thousands of Lego pieces that are stored in it’s database. The user can rotate a 3D model in any direction adding pieces, color and functionality and also calculate the exact cost of building and purchasing the model they have built. Once they are happy with their unique design, which fits their personal budget they then can even design a custom box cover and packaging. Lego will put all the pieces in the customer-designed box, complete with instructions to help the customer put together their model in real life and then they ship it to them directly from the factory.
The software has a social aspect as well, allowing members to add friends, and also share and vote on designs. There’s also several ways users can share their designs with friends and family who may want to purchase the custom Lego for them as a gift.
Free digital give away’s build trust and allow the customer to experience our brand without risk. With trust we can garner consent to communicate and market to them. Variable customized options make it easier for customers to purchase and re-purchase. In the case of LEGO there’s always a new, exciting model to be purchased because the options are limitless.