Archive for integrated marketing

Jos. A Bank – Numbing Promotional Sales

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2010 by matts76

In this installment, I want to cover the increasingly frequent promotions that I’ve heard on the radio as well as received via e-mail, from Jos. A Bank, the men’s clothier.  Per company information that’s listed on Scottrade.com, the clothier generates business through their retail stores and direct marketing efforts.  I’ve shopped at the company’s stores in the past as have friends and family.  However, recently, I’ve noticed and have become numb to frequent marketing messages from the company that all promote deep discounts, BOGO or buy X get X free promos, and so on.  As an example, I’ve included a shot of my e-mail trash box, showing promotions from the company that arrive on nearly a daily basis.  All offer some form of deep discount or saving, so, as a consumer, I’ve pretty much tuned them out because of their frequency.  These days, I check the box next to the e-mails without even reading them and they are deleted.

Worse, from a marketers standpoint, the constant bombardment of sales and discounts has tarnished my impression of the clothing brand and the perceived quality of suits, etc. that are sold.  For example, if I purchase a suit and get two or more for free by doing so, what is the quality and workmanship involved?  It could be very good, but, such offers make me think “hmm…they can barely give these things away…” and ultimately rethink my purchasing options.  Suits are a relatively high involvement purchase, as they’re frequently part of “first impression” scenarios, whether they are interviews, business meetings, presentations, etc.  Most consumers fear embarrassment in its various forms, so avoiding purchases that could cause this is normal.  Offering consistently deep discounts can cause an impression that the quality isn’t very good, so, offering volume discounts makes up for it.  This isn’t necessarily true, but can be perceived that way.

The marketing messages in this case also get lost amongst marketing “noise.”  As a consumer, I know that if I miss the current promotion, another is right on its heels, so, there is no urgency to respond to the message and there is nothing unique that is being offered.  The screenshot from the Jos. A Bank site reveals a great example of this.  The homepage offers two shirts, two pants, and two sweaters for FREE if a sportcoat is purchased.  This promotion is on top of the multitude of BOGO e-mails I’ve received weekly, and nearly daily, from the store.

Again, I also question the quality of items that are offered in multiple quantities at no, or severely discounted, cost.  You know what they say about first impressions and the thought that if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  In this case, the offers are valid from a reputable company, but, as consumers, we’re trained to be skeptics when marketing offers like these present themselves.

While Scottrade has shown that the company’s stock has taken a tumble in recent past, overall, performance remains strong, so, something is working.  In the current economic climate, those shopping for suits and similar clothing no doubt appreciate the incentives for purchasing that has probably helped the strength of Jos. A Bank’s performance.  The company recently was named to a Forbes top 100 list as well, which gives further kudos for strong performance.

From a marketer’s perspective, I do wonder what the long term impact on the brand will be from so many relatively short term promotions.  To me, my perception has shifted from a quality retailer of men’s clothing to a discount mill that sells suits.  I tend to look elsewhere for important clothing purchases because I perceive other retailers to offer better quality and I’m willing to pay for it.  I wonder if I’m the exception, or, if other consumers are feeling this as well.  Feel free to comment.

The takeaways here include:

1.  Don’t discount or offer promotions too frequently – they lose their luster and impact and consumers grow “numb.”  If a consumer finds no need to respond because the promotions occur all the time, sales can suffer.  Instead, try to offer more seasonal, to-be-anticipated sales or promotions that are truly unique and that make customers count the minutes until they can take advantage.  Keep price points higher and perceived, and hopefully real, quality are appreciated. Additionally, it prevents customers from perceiving your brand as “discount” rather than higher-end.

2.  Turn down the volume on the “noise” – Be selective in the volume of marketing messages that are sent to customers, especially those who’ve opted in to e-mail promotion lists, to prevent your message from getting lost amongst the clutter.   As stated earlier, along with the shot of my inbox trash folder, constant promotions get lost and deleted without even reaching the intended consumers.

3.  High-involvement purchases are expected to have premium pricing, hence, the high involvement – Whether it’s a home, car, furniture, or a quality suit, high-involvement purchases tend to have higher prices, so, more research on the part of the customer is common.  That’s marketing 101.  So, if you sell said products, remember this when crafting marketing messages and promotions and keep them as high quality and valuable as the products you’re supposed to be selling.

Barack Obama – He’s in the Game

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by matts76

While watching the news this evening, I became aware of another creative way that the 2008 race for the White House is utilizing the best of new media marketing tactics to reach the voting public. This time, it’s Barack Obama–he’s in the game (literally).

In-game advertising, as well as building complete video games around a product or brand, like Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, is just the latest in a wave of new, innovative ways that marketers are reaching younger consumers. And, from now through November 3rd, the Obama camp is placing in-game ads in popular X-BOX Live games, from “Guitar Hero” to “Madden ’09” football. I think this is a great way to reach out and remind additional voters of the upcoming election, even if they choose to play video games rather than keep up with politics or the news.

The article notes that the in-game placements are meant to gain more buzz and traffic to the VoteforChange.com website, which utilizes even more new media tactics as part of an overall presidential marketing plan.

Now, if they could only get Obama and McCain to duke it out via a little competitive Wii boxing instead of through another stuffy debate that covers the same old ground and doesn’t really address many issues in detail. That would draw a crowd.

Talk about viral marketing buzz! Name a primetime date and time, and consumers across American would be setting their TiVos, streaming video live, capturing footage for YouTube, and tuning into TV to catch a glimpse of the candidates sparring on the Wii. It would be great.

Shine It Up Real Nice…Your Online Sales Depend on It

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by matts76

The importance of polished, professional looking web design has been repeated time and time again in the marketing realm. Research shows that consumers tend to purchase from, and have greater trust in, websites that are professionally designed, present transaction security confirmation, etc. Additionally, providing post-purchase tracking information and order confirmations via e-mail is important. Otherwise, consumers can think that the order wasn’t placed properly and credit card data is floating around in an online black hole.

I’m currently in the market for a new watch. I’ve been doing some comparison shopping online and was once again reminded of the importance of professional web design. While design that isn’t as flawless as most professional sites may not be an indication of a website that is any less secure or trustworthy, aesthetics definitely play a role in influencing my purchase.

I’m looking to purchase a watch in the $200 range, so, the watch isn’t high end but costs enough to warrant the need for a seemingly trustworthy retailer from which to buy. After doing an online search, I was presented with a variety of retailer results, including many who incorporated SEO and paid advertising marketing strategies to improve results and traffic.

The first site I clicked into was found via a Google ad. I personally feel that the look of the site, despite having security and Better Business Bureau online seals prominently displayed, didn’t look as professional as sites like Amazon.com, which also had the watch I was looking at, for the same price. Maybe it’s the way the page was laid out or the way links to products were presented, but the first site didn’t gain my trust. It just felt cluttered or somehow unofficial. It almost has a more amateur feel than Amazon.com and others. See samples below of Amazon vs. the other site:

Ultimately, Amazon will probably win when deciding the site from which I purchase my watch. I’m sure positive brand equity and previous experience with the site helps to enhance the clean, polished product presentation made on Amazon’s website. Even with the other website’s marketing offer promise of free shipping and a free Swiss army knife with purchase, I just wasn’t comfortable with providing my credit card information.

This online buying excursion reminded me of the importance of maintaining a polished look. But, really, in the business world, I think this is a common sentiment that is also something I was raised to believe. As my dad would say, have a polished look, maintain eye contact, smile, and have a firm hand shake to market yourself.

Compact Car Tries Making Sexytime with Consumers

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2008 by matts76

As global economies continue to teeter on the edge of oblivion, consumers everywhere are being more conscientious about spending. The auto industry is being hit particularly hard, especially in the U.S. Drivers are traveling less to conserve on gasoline spending and trading guzzling SUVs for more practical, gas-sipping alternatives.

It seems that as vehicles become more fuel efficient and practical, they also move further away from the sexiness of, say, a Lamborghini or Ferrari. So, what’s a marketer to do? The last time I checked, talk of fuel efficiency didn’t get the average consumers pulse racing in anticipation.

French automaker Renault, known for fuel efficient, yet otherwise uninspiring cars that are sold primarily in Europe, is taking a stab at sexing up one of its compacts, the Twingo, in a new integrated marketing campaign. It is driven primarily via online videos and a racy website and is supplemented with print and TV ads. To me, it seems that they’re taking a page from the Mini Cooper playbook in making compact sexy.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article about the forthcoming campaign that focuses on the theme of being “in tune with today” and markets the Twingo through ads that inject sex, cross dressing, and even stripping to push the car that otherwise doesn’t appear to have had major redesign or look much different than the average compact.

Like it or not, porn has helped to drive the growth of the Internet, for better or worse. Renault has taken this concept and integrated it into the site that’ll launch to promote the Twingo.

It will apparently feature an age verification landing page where users confirm that they’re at least 18 years of age, a la porn sites, and then, upon clicking yes, are greeted with envelope-pushing (at least by U.S. standards) video clips and risque shots of the car itself, complete with pasties over the headlights, as seen here:

One of the viral videos that is launching to promote the Twingo features a guy driving the car to a nightclub with a group of friends, who, upon arrival, see the guy’s father dressed in drag waiting in line to get into the club. Despite what the viewer thinks will happen next, the guy asks his dad if he can get he and his friends into the club. Then, the Twingo tagline “In tune with today” runs to further promote the cars alleged “edginess” and hipness. Give it a look, and decide for yourself whether you think this viral tactic will actually convince consumers that the car is hip.

I think, from an integrated marketing campaign perspective, Renault is taking a unique approach in using humor and sex to change perceptions about an otherwise practical, yet uninspiring, car. It will be interesting to see if the campaign gets legs and helps to boost sales especially given the state of the economy. If nothing else, I think the videos that will be tied to the campaign are humorous enough to build some buzz and pass along.

Can I Get a “Woo Woo” for Multicultural Marketing

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , on October 2, 2008 by matts76

I was online this evening booking train tickets for my wife and I for our upcoming trip to NYC this Friday. She’s participating in the Avon Walk for breast cancer, so, we figured we’d make a weekend of it. While booking our Acela tickets, I noticed something unique on the Amtrak website. In addition to the English version of the website in all of its marketing glory, Amtrak prominently displays a link at the top of the homepage for the “Deutsch” version. While the Spanish version of the site is available via link as well, I thought the choice of German was a bit unusual. Check it out:

This is an interesting marketing strategy, I thought to myself, and I must learn more. So, I did a quick search and came upon the press release issued by Amtrak as to why the German version of the website was created. One of the quotes from an Amtrak official stated the following:

“Outside of North America, Germany is one of our top markets,” said David Lim, Amtrak’s Chief Marketing Officer. “These customers are very comfortable using rail travel in their home country, and we want to make it easy for them to be able to enjoy rail travel in the United States, as well.”

Additionally, the marketing of Amtrak’s services in German is smart because the engines used to pull the Acela trains are made by Alstom which was, as of September 25, named as German rail operator Deutsche Bahn’s supplier of the year, which increases familiarity of the product amongst German consumers.

The wide acceptance of rail travel as a common standard for transportation amongst Europeans and Amtrak being the established leader in the U.S. market make this marketing decision a good one. As such, I give a “Woo Woo” of the train whistle variety to Amtrak for using this strategy as part of an overall online integrated marketing plan.

Hey Kid…Want Some Candy?

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2008 by matts76

Well friends, we’ve officially been catapulted into the month of October, which means marketing of Halloween treats kicks into high gear! I do have to admit it, I am a fan of Hershey’s peanut butter pumpkins and am psyched that the candy maker chose to expand it’s horizons beyond Easter and the peanut butter egg to allow me to celebrate a multitude of holidays with the peanut-buttery goodness. I knew that we’d officially entered the Fall season when I visited the local grocery store only to find the sun tan lotions, barbecue essentials, and beer coolers replaced with hundreds of thousands of pounds of Halloween candy. Now, I’ll step off my endorsement (this is a marketing blog after all) of the pumpkins and get down to business.

Halloween is a great time to again consider the ethics of marketing to children. Both online and off, kids are presented with many marketing messages to persuade them, and their parents, to purchase Halloween treats and many other products. This time of year also reminds me that, ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents to determine what is and what is not appropriate for their children.

As the title of my post suggests, it was, and is, common practice for parents to remind their children to never talk to strangers who offer candy, or a ride home from school, or try and persuade them in other ways. Kids are also taught to “Just Say No” when it comes to drugs. This was never illustrated more brilliantly than in the super-awesome episode of Diff’rent Strokes seen here (I encourage you to watch it in its entirety):

Why then, when it comes to newer methods of marketing, like online marketing specifically, do marketers end up being blamed for obesity, being predatory toward younger consumers, etc., etc. when the fundamentals of “just saying no” to drugs or strangers offering you candy and overseeing what children consumer should still be with parents? Whether someone is literally offering a child candy or trying to do so “virtually” through a chat encounter or elsewhere, parents should instill the values of right and wrong with their children. Further, they should take an active role in what their children consume both online and off.

While parents are at a disadvantage right now because they aren’t necessarily the first to know how to use certain technologies and may be luddites who fear such emerging media, they should be active in establishing what is appropriate for their children when it comes to online interactions, including the marketing messages they receive.

Candy and consumer goods should be occasional treats to reward for doing well in school or completing chores or hitting some other milestone. Better yet, as was the case when I was younger, if a child sees a marketing message and wants a toy or candy or anything else, let them save up and buy it themselves under parental supervision. This adds value and helps to establish a work ethic and good spending habits in the long run.

As marketers, it is our responsibility to be sure that messages are truthful and age appropriate and that websites and online promotions targeting children follow the rules of not being deceptive, not requesting information from young consumers, offering parental tips, etc. Going back to Hershey’s, their Halloween site and even their homepage puts this into practice via a cool feature that flags their websites as possibley trying to sell goods to consumers with an “Ad Alert” megaphone icon as seen here:

Strategies such as these help to keep online marketing responsible while also providing parents additional tools to help make sure their children are safe when they aren’t around.

Ain’t It the Truth?

Posted in Integrated Marketing Thoughts with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2008 by matts76

Viral marketing has exploded as of late thanks to advancements in new media technology that literally changes by the day.  More than ever, marketers can let consumers create the actual creative and come up with the next great idea to help push a product or brand to the next level.  It also adds authenticity to claims about products and acts as great testimonials when consumers are advocates. 

With all of this, it is still important for marketers to remember that, despite such innovative developments in media, the basics of truth in advertising still apply.  As set forth by the FTC, some of those basics include:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair. 
  • If you’re way into regulations, you can read more here

    As short films and viral videos take off through sites like YouTube, it’s important for marketers to remain sane and not push envelopes too far when it comes to claims made by products and services.  Since anyone can produce anything these days and post it online with little more than a video camera and a free copy of Windows Moviemaker or similar software, there is no shortage of less-than-credible content out there.  Don’t let your product or brand fall into the trap of exaggerations or unbelievable claims just because a cool video can be created that offers some sweet technology that can manipulate reality. 

    This reminds me of the episode on Discovery a few weeks ago where the Mythbusters debunked online videos as being real or fake.  Astonishingly enough, all videos proved to be true, though some elements of what was presented needed modified to make them work.  Here’s a sample of a car that is lifted into the air by connecting a few fire hoses to it…pretty cool:

    While all vids were proven to be truthful, the fact that consumers are automatically skeptical enough of online video to allow Mythbusters to feature an entire hour-long episode about it provides insight into how consumers like to seek out information and then form their own opinions and thoughts.  As a marketer, keep it cool, cutting edge, relevant, but truthful when it comes to short films and viral campaigns.