Case Study

The Power of Gratitude in Marketing

Thanksgiving is just two days away.

The perfect time to explore the power of gratitude in marketing.

Read on for examples from a B2B marketplace, a game, and Wreaths Across America.

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What is gratitude in marketing?

To me it comes down to two things really.

Respect for those we serve. Realizing that on the other side of our marketing lies people just like us – not data, not numbers, not leads, not prospects, not conversions, not results, not sales, not revenue, not targets, not users, not segments, not those who consume – but real people with hopes and dreams, anxieties and fears.

Another keen attribute of this gratitude is respect for the sheer power of marketing. Every man-made triumph and disaster – from air travel and the declaration of human rights (and the list goes on) to genocide and deforestation (and the list sadly goes on as well) – is a result of marketing. Of convincing a group of people to take an action.

So, we can use this power we have mastered to help or hurt these people we are trying to get to know. Let’s good to be grateful. Let’s choose to help.

Here at MarketingSherpa (and MarketingExperiments and MECLABS Institute), we are grateful for you. Our audience of marketers and entrepreneurs.

I hope we show that gratitude with the value we bring you every day. Like our new, free digital marketing course.

And I am personally, deeply grateful whenever I get to hear your feedback – like this comment from Valerie Bowden, Director, CRDLE, “I loved your article about the ‘Marketing Thank You’ box. Literally laughed out loud about the Grandpa in [The] Simpsons. I think we have all been there!”

But enough with the mushy stuff. Let’s get to why you read MarketingSherpa – to see real examples of what others are doing.

We start today with a story from Bowden’s company, to show you how even a B2B service can tap into the human desire to make a positive difference. Next up, while the desire to gather in a community is as old as civilization itself, we bring you an example from the gaming industry using the newest cutting-edge technology to build a modern community. And finally, a nonprofit organization built on gratefulness.

Quick Case Study #1: B2B marketplace gets 30% more responses by communicating its mission

When people are thankful, they think about more than just their lot in life. They consider how to do good for others as well. Many consumer brands tap into this inclination.

But it is easy for B2B (business-to-business) brands to overlook. Perhaps because of nomenclature…the false belief that these businesses are marketing to other businesses. A B2B business is actually marketing to people – people who work in a business. People who have their own want to do good. And people who often sell to an end consumer that also cares about the effect of his or her purchases.

“I am grateful that consumers today actually care about sustainable and ethical products. It makes marketing so much more purposeful,” Bowden said.

Her team started a B2B (business-to-business) marketplace called CRDLE to make it easier to source quality products and services from Africa.

The team has learned that the more they share their mission to increase trade with Africa by one percent, the more buyers contact them. “I am so thankful that leading with our ‘Why’ and marketing our impact is valued in today’s world,” Bowden said.

Initially, the team marketed what they did. They told people the company is a B2B platform that makes it easy to source products and tech services from Africa. The engagement rate was low. Then they shifted to sharing why they do what they do. They told people their mission is to increase trade with Africa by one percent because that would generate three times more revenue than Africa receives in aid and lift more than 100 million people out of poverty.

That was the turning point.

“The result is that we are now attracting buyers who love Africa and share our belief in #TradeNotAid,” Bowden said.

Here is a specific example. The team messaged coffee buyers on LinkedIn. They started walking about connecting to buyers, market linkage, etc.

The team got 30 percent more responses.

It also opened the door to influencers. “For example, we reached out to Jeanel, the founder of RETAILBOSS, and by sharing our mission and the impact we are trying to achieve, she invited us to co-host a webinar with her in January about ethical sourcing,” Bowden said. That happened when they marketed their mission. “I am grateful…that influencers like Jeanel are willing to support companies like ours who are on a mission,” Bowden said.

Quick Case Study #2: Game uses NFTs to build a community of 300,000

You can’t think about Thanksgiving without a gathering coming to mind. Sometimes we are most grateful just to spend some time with the people around the table – friends, family, loved ones, neighbors. (Since this is a MarketingSherpa article and not a Hallmark movie, let’s be honest – sometimes we are also grateful we only have to see our family a few times a year at gatherings such as this one).

The creation and marketing of games has also tapped into that human gratefulness for a community of one’s choosing. Once a solitary pursuit, gaming has become a communal effort.

Here is an example.

Guild of Guardians is an NFT-based (non-fungible token) mobile RPG (role-playing game) published by Immutable and backed by Ubisoft. It taps into one of the hottest trends in gaming right now – the NFT play-to-earn model, where engaged players earn lucrative rewards and have full ownership of their in-game items.

Essentially, the team is building a digital world and trying to make it real for its community by creating a digital market that has value in the real-world economy. Let’s take a look at how they’re doing it.

“Guild of Guardians is among the first AAA [distributed by a major publisher] gaming titles to incorporate NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, and play-to-earn mechanics, in order to enable users to gain more from their gaming experience and time,” said Nick Kelland, Marketing Lead and Community Manager, Immutable. “We’ve worked hard to create a product that appeals and can be lucrative both for individual newcomers, as well as large, well established gaming collectives such as Yield Guild Games.”

Beyond their in-game utility and investment qualities, Kellan has found NFTs to be a powerful tool for game developers and marketers to attract and acquire new users. For example, in June they ran a “Proof of Attendance Protocol” event, which allowed people to claim a unique ‘Founder’ NFT badge. “We promoted the giveaway on our blog but made it clear that the code for redemption was only available on our Discord channel,” Kelland said. As a result, over 30,000 new members joined the Discord channel in just 48 hours, many of whom claimed the badge. This massively increased not only those engaging in the community but those who now have a direct investment in the product.

The team also implemented a referral campaign, which incentivized players by offering them five percent discounts on further NFTs. It resulted in half of all registrations, showing the power of a ‘share-to-earn’ feature that can be adopted by other online communities.

These novel tactics are working. Guild of Guardians completed its Founder’s NFT Sale, a collection of playable in-game NFTs, ranging from $10 to $100,000 in value. “Guild of Guardians is built upon ImmutableX, a carbon-neutral scaling solution that allows for transactions to occur outside of the Ethereum blockchain — dramatically reducing fees when compared to buying, selling or minting NFTs on Ethereum directly,” Kelland said. Many NFTs are now trading on the secondary NFT market for more than twenty times the original minting price and a current trading volume of $5 million across 11,000 trades…and th e game hasn’t even launched yet.

Since its unveiling in early 2020, Guild of Guardians has rallied over 300,000 community members across social channels – including 80,000 on Discord – and has sold over $8 million in NFT sales. There are more than 150,000 pre-game registrations as an outcome of this strategy. The game launches early next year.

All told, the team gave away $150,000 worth of NFTs to sow the basis for the game’s coming world. “[With NFTs] we can give our fans something that draws them in, but then also becomes part of the larger experience,” Kelland said.

“We were pleasantly surprised with how much community support we would get so quickly. There were so many passionate people who, once they saw our project, were quick to both cheer us on and help us in so many ways. We always had faith in ourselves, but it’s our fans who keep surprising us the most,” he said.

Quick Case Study #3: Family company uses surplus products to seed a nonprofit built on gratefulness, earns 7 billion PR impressions

What do you do when your company has surplus product? Liquidate it? Recycle it? Just dispose of it? (egads!)

Back in 1992, the Worcester family of Maine (a family of wreath makers) had 5,000 leftover wreaths from that Christmas season. “They made the decision to drive down to Arlington National Cemetery and honor our nation’s heroes,” said Sean Sullivan, Locations Public Relations, Wreaths Across America.

With the help of a few enthusiastic helpers this family tradition continued year after year until 2005 when a photographer’s picture of the wreaths, placed on soldiers’ headstones in the snow, went viral on the internet.

Two years later, the public outcry to honor sons, daughters, loved ones, mentors and colleagues warranted the formation of a non-profit called “Wreaths Across America.” Since those humble beginnings 30 years ago, the organization has grown from one act of kindness to over 3,000 locations across the globe including Puerto Rico, Guam, and, when allowed, the veterans still laying in Normandy.

Today, the third Saturday in December has become known as “Wreaths Across America Day.” It’s a day in which tens of thousands of volunteers collectively gather, place wreaths on the headstones of those who sacrificed, say their name, offer them a solemn moment, and thank them for their service.

“Saying thank you is a daily part of our organization. We are humbled by the generosity of helpful people all over America (and beyond…) who have taken a small family tradition and turned it into an amazing display of what’s good in our world today,” Sullivan said.

“We say thank you every day to the people who understand our mission to Remember, Honor, Teach and help make Wreaths Across America Day happen in their communities. We thank the essential worker truck drivers and their companies for volunteering their efforts and resources to make sure the wreaths get to where they are going. We thank the shipping companies for working out the logistics and cost to take them overseas. We thank the corporate and individual sponsors of wreaths who grow the number we place each year. We say thank you to the volunteers who work tirelessly to carry out this mission. Most importantly – on Wreaths Across America Day on December 18th this year – we’ll be saying thank you to the brave souls that sacrificed everything for our country, communities, family and freedom,” he said.

Last year, the nonprofit organization placed 1.7 million wreaths at 2,557 locations.

This year it is on track for 2.3 million wreaths at approximately 3,000 locations.

Last year in the ten-month period between January and October, the nonprofit was mentioned in 10,000 articles with three billion impressions. This year they have been mentioned in 11,500 articles with seven billion impressions in the same time frame.

“We say thank you every day, but not because it’s good marketing…because we have so much to be thankful for,” Sullivan said.

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