You likely have seen video or even experienced a live "flash mob" - an organized, rehearsed group of people who gather at a predetermined place and time and spontaneously break into song or dance to entertain unsuspecting on-lookers or otherwise draw attention to a cause or issue.
Building on that energy, a creative blogger from New York was inspired to create the first cash mob just last August. This powerful trend caught on and is spreading across the US and internationally. (View an msnbc.com video from the Today show)
Here's how it works:
Event organizers plan a location in advance and promote it in a grass roots way via blogging and social media outlets, usually Facebook and Twitter. Often the mob participants don't know the exact location until the last minute to create an air of intrigue and excitement. The business owner is usually contacted ahead of time to ensure they are prepared for the rush of customers. At the determined time, crowds of shoppers assemble at a small locally-owned and run business ready to purchase products and services to provide the company with a large infusion of cash.
What's the idea?
Cash mobs got their start as a way to promote smaller, independently run businesses and foster a sense of community. It's a logical extension of the buy local movement, but supported by global social media. It's a true win-win for everyone involved. A neighborhood business gets a fantastic financial "bump", some new customers, and likely some local media attention.
The participants get some great products and services wrapped up in a fun social event. Many times the participants even continue socializing after the shopping has concluded at another local establishment.
If you have a business that could benefit from this kind of boost, see if there are events in your area that would allow you to get involved. Whether you are on the receiving end of a cash mob or a participant, it's a great way to build good will and make connections with other business owners.
Some local Chambers of Commerce are also picking up the trend. Why not contact yours to encourage them to organize a cash mob event in your community?
Readers: Have you been invited to or participated in a cash mob? Tell us about it.
Watch for my next post on mobile marketing. Local businesses are using more and more of their marketing dollars to support the growing trend of researching and shopping from mobile devices and it's all about the user experience.