Would you permanently tattoo a company's logo on yourself in exchange for a set of tires? Apparantely more than 50 people have done just that with hundreds more on a waiting list. All for a set of Dunlops.

Recognizing their evanglists and understanding their motivations, Dunlop found a way to permanently advertise their brand to a hard-core audience by taking advantage of a hot trend:

Dunlop tattooers cut to the chase. They're different; they're all about driving and performance. They seek creative ways to express themselves, and they're not afraid to show it....

Tattoos also are more mainstream, as increasing numbers of professionals, star athletes and celebrities seek the artistry of a tattoo..... A 2006 survey by Pew Research Center found 36 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds and 40 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds have at least one tattoo.
Not only did they take advantage of the tattoo trend, they used celebrity tattoo artists to do the work. Very smart. The promotion attracted huge publicity and set the bar for creative advertising without using traditional media. Very very smart since they know a portion of their customer base is anything but traditional. But it wasn't the first time Dunlop had pulled a stunt like this:

In the past, Dunlop has created buzz here with treadheads, enthusiasts who had hair stylists shave tread patterns onto their heads for a chance towin a set of tires. Tattoos...seemed the obvious next step.

Again - brillant smart. Building on marketing momentum helps your advertising efforts reinforce one another. People start to eagerly anticipate your next promotion which helps keep you top-of-mind when they need what you sell.

So what does this have to do with link building? Well everything and then some. Obviously this type of promotion isn't for everyone but you can use the concept to develop a kick-ass incentive promotion with links to your website being the net result.

Dunlop really had to know their target audience before launching this program; granted they had some experience from their treadheads gig but even then, they had to know it would appeal to the type of people who buy their products.

You can do the same by surveying your customer base and asking about lifetstyles as well as buying habits. Once you have an idea, look for a hot trend to incorporate and develop a promotion that interests them as people as well as customers.

For example, if you sell wedding favors capitalize on the blogging and social networking trend by offering to pay for hosting and a domain name so brides can develop a blog. Encourage them to showcase pre and post wedding adventures, photos, and videos and to keep blogging after the wedding on your dime provided they link back to your site.

For less than what most people in the wedding niche pay for a week's worth of Adwords, you can have a year's worth of on-topic links. The promotion can even be expanded into the huge network of wedding singers, photographers and coordinators that may not have a website.

Know what incentives will motivate your customers and dangle them for links!

November 25, 2007

Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training and is the author of the link building blog Link Spiel


The key to leveraging evangelists is to make it easier for them to engage in actions that they are already doing. Dunlop evangelists are already promoting the tires and looking for new ways to do so. This is a perfect example of rewarding them for what they are already doing anyway.

While I cringe at people tattooing a tire logo on their arm for a set of tires, I guess to them it makes perfect sense!

Mark, I agree with what you said here: "The key to leveraging evangelists is to make it easier for them to engage in actions that they are already doing" but would say what makes that concept successful is recognizing what actions make the impact.

I wonder how many companies can say they know their customers like Dunlop obviously does! :)

I can't believe that! I am sure if I had a Yokohama tat, I would feel ashamed to ever purchase any other brand, as if I were living a lie. That makes me think, does Dunlop practically own these people now? :)

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