Has your business been enveloped by the Graze phenomenon yet? Have you noticed your employees or colleagues receiving small brown, bi-weekly boxes filled with nuts, olives and other nibbles?

This is a shining example of the success of network marketing. 

Before you ask, Graze isn’t an SEOptimise client! I have just been using it recently as an example of great network marketing and social media in action. 

The product is simple. For £3.29 a time, you can have a box filled with four punnets of nibbles delivered to your door or office. 

In this age of healthy eating concerns, it was always going to be a hit. But the genius of this campaign came from how the firm encouraged their customers to then flog it onto their friends. 

How Graze uses network marketing

If you’re a Graze customer, you can get your friends a free first box and they get the second one half price. 

That’s a deal many people will share with their friends but then the customer gets a kickback too – their next box free. 

So, that’s a great deal that people will want to share with their friends, but on top of that they get something out of it. 

This kind of win-win situation makes for a very successful online campaign and most consumer-facing retailers could learn from it, no matter what the product. 

Incentivising your army of existing customers to go forth and sell on your behalf works wonders. 

This is because people appreciate a personal recommendation, it’s more valuable to them than any kind of marketing speak. These boxes become a craze in workplaces as people order them, recommend them and entice their friends and co-workers into buying them. 

On top of that, people love a bargain and knowing they can get a free box and then a half-price box is a real hook into a new product. 

This isn’t a deal that’s available from the company’s website – you can only get your first box half price. 

This could be because Graze doesn’t want to be devaluing its brand by advertising one and a half boxes free on the site. 

Instead, it lets new customers feel they are getting a perk because their friends are existing customers, and the personal recommendation overcomes any worry that the company is having to give them away.

How does Graze utilise social platforms?

Again, the power of Graze here is that it encourages people to share. By incentivising people to do its marketing on its behalf, it gives people a reason to talk about the product and advertise it on Facebook and Twitter. 

It even prepares the tweet or status update on the advocate’s behalf, complete with a unique code that ensures they are recorded as making the recommendation and so they get a free box. 

Google “Graze boxes” and you’ll see a tonne of blog posts. Unusually for a product, most of the visible comments are positive. 

Word of mouth works – and Graze has turned its customers into an army of advocates. 

So is it working?

Although there are no recent figures, Graze has made huge leaps since it was launched in January 2009. 

In first six months, it went from zero to 80,000 boxes – and it knows that a large chunk of that success is the result of recommendations. 

What can you learn from Graze?

Clearly, the Graze product lends itself to this kind of marketing. It’s reasonably cheap and the marketers can afford to chuck a few free boxes out there to secure a new customer. 

Obviously, this won’t be as easy if you sell high-end cars or credit cards or trainers or any product that costs more than a few quid. 

But you can reward customers for making recommendations. 

We humans are far more likely to tell our friends and colleagues about negative experiences we’ve endured, so incentivising someone to actually talk positively about your brand will actually get satisfied customers to share praise. 

These incentives don’t have to be freebies. For example, home builder Persimmon bungs £500 at customers who cause an acquaintance to buy a house. 

Consider your business and how you can offer incentives and encourage network marketing like this. 

Finally, don’t forget to make it easy for them to shout about your product. Add Twitter and Facebook share buttons and make it simple.