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Remember when you used to pay for advertising? While it still takes money, thought and ingenuity to keep your brand fresh in everyone’s minds, it today’s world you can rely on everyone around you as well.

I remember when the first restaurant to use a real person as a testimonial hit the marketplace. Subway began advertising Jared’s journey, showcasing how one guy lost weight, improved his health, and began inspiring others to do the same – all while eating daily at Subway restaurants.

A lot has changed since then.

Today there are many tools online that can make the whole process easier, more viral, and help a company grow in more ways than ever before.

A company marketing their business today needs one thing: content.  And you can get that in two ways: generate it yourself, or have others generate it for you.

Generating it yourself takes work, employees/contractors, time and money.

Having others generate it for you allows you to receive exposure at no cost, develop raving fans through the testimonials of others, and control the entire process by establishing ground rules and policies.

How are they doing it? Take a look at what Genghis Grill is doing.

Reality Advertising – How Companies Use Free Content To Start A Buzz

They are looking for 103 contestants to play a game. A game of losing weight, getting healthy, and promoting Genghis Grill in the process. Through January 28, 2013, you can apply for the “position” at one of the 103 restaurants around the country. Each location will choose their winner, and the game will begin.

For 60 days, each finalist will eat at their Genghis Grill location. They will also have specific items to accomplish using social media throughout the process.

The winner will receive $10,000 in cash. And of course a lot of publicity as the face of Genghis Grill.

Genghis Grill will receive a huge amount of exposure as 103 finalists fill up newsfeeds with information about their tasks. All for the price of a few bowls of food. (A lot less expensive than a traditional marketing/publicity strategy.)

Does this work? For Genghis Grill, its their 3rd Annual Health Kwest. Yep, I’m betting it works.

Can you use this idea for your own business? Let me count the ways.