Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Marketing May 26 as Red Nose Day

For the second consecutive year, Red Nose Day jumps the pond and transplants itself in America to raise money for children's charities. The telethon will air on May 26th.

Walgreens is the official retail partner, selling plastic red noses for $1 and other red merchandise to add a smile and raise money (all profits to charity). NBC is the official network sponsor of the two-hour telethon. M&Ms returns as a sponsor, as well. In 2015, it won a Shorty Award for its Red Nose Day promotions.

In 2015, Red Nose Day USA collected $23 million for children's charities. Can it break that record and raise more?

The US Red Nose Day Facebook page has 73k likes and the Twitter account has 49k followers. The Instagram account has 13k followers and fun photos of celebrities wearing red noses.

New social media content is being posted almost every day leading up to the telethon. Posting with the hashtag #RedNoseDay on social media helps spread the word and build momentum. I just tweeted with the hashtag, noting that I've purchased red noses for friends and family. Looking forward to serious fun for a serious cause.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Marketing the Tools to Understand Your Family's Past

Who do you think you are? That's the question as consumers increasingly buy products to help them discover family history and ancestral origins. TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Road Show are getting people interested in genealogy and the geographic and ethnic origins of their ancestors. Marketing opportunities abound! Two big names profiting from this interest are Ancestry and 23andMe.

Ancestry.com, one of the biggest names in genealogy marketing, reports it has 2.3 million members worldwide, with websites in North America, Sweden, UK, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, and other countries. Ancestry uses TV sponsorships, commercials, social media, and a 14-day free trial (sampling), as this home page excerpt shows. It has its own YouTube channel and 1.5 million Facebook likes.

23andMe offers DNA testing as well as digging deeper into genetic and medical info that might help consumers make more informed decisions about their health. The company has more than 200k Facebook likes and 58k Twitter followers. Although health is a big appeal, family origins are also important to many who purchase the DNA test.

Privacy is a concern with DNA testing gone mainstream. Still, looking back to the past is getting even more popular.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Record Store Day Sets Sales Spinning

It's vinyl time again. Saturday, April 16 is Record Store Day. The first was held in 2008, with the goal of building traffic at independent record stores.

Today, vinyl has become very sought-after around the world, for the sound and for the retro authenticity, as well as the album art and liner notes. The entire experience contrasts with the click-to-download music experience of the past decade.

Slowly, steadily, vinyl sales are back from the trough and increasing worldwide. And with high-profile events like Record Store Day, labels are timing many new releases to take advantage of higher interest and stronger store traffic.

On social media, look for #RecordStoreDay, #RSD16, and @RecordStoreDay. The official Twitter feed has 150,000+ followers. The official FB page has nearly 390,000 likes.

Newbury Comics, always strong on vinyl, is promoting special pressings and collection-worthy LPs. Yet not all indie vinyl retailers are participating.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marketing Earth Day, April 22

Thanks to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, we can see how the EarthDay.org website looked last year and years earlier.

Above, one of the screens that rotated on Earth Day's home page last year.

At right, an image from Earth Day's home page in 2011.

And below, an image from Earth Day's home page in 2006.

Clearly, the site has become increasingly sophisticated and image-oriented. It captures the imagination by vividly portraying our Earth and showing how people can preserve its beauty and natural resources.

This year, Earth Day is April 22.

You can get the latest info on the Facebook page (183,000+ likes), Twitter account (37,500 followers), and YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Marketing Macy's Backstage

Macy's has been opening freestanding and in-store Backstage off-price discount outlets around the country. Meanwhile, it's closing some underperforming department stores and testing new freestanding specialty formats.

Yesterday I visited a Backstage unit housed inside an existing Macy's store. As some news outlets have mentioned, it features a merchandise mix from current Macy's brands and some new brands not currently sold through Macy's. The discounts are deep and the merchandise selection not so deep.

The atmospherics are entirely different than a traditional Macy's. Close your eyes, forget you're inside a Macy's, and you'd almost think you're in a TJ Maxx. Backstage has a little bit of everything on pipe racks--missy sizes, junior sizes, plus sizes, baby/kid's sizes, shoes (lots of shoes), cosmetics, toys, and home goods. Even the checkout area is configured the way you'd expect in a TJ Maxx.

IMHO, opening a Backstage unit inside an existing Macy's store is a great idea because:
  1. Backstage fills space that was underutilized by existing Macy's departments, and will probably accelerate inventory turn.
  2. Backstage attracts price-sensitive customers who must walk through regular-price racks to get to the separate off-price section, located well into the store's depths.
  3. Backstage may attract new customers who previously believed Macy's was too expensive.
  4. Backstage can draw from both the Macy's shopper population and shoppers who visit the malls where these stores are located. 
  5. No mixed marketing messages here: Backstage's ambiance is differentiated from Macy's ambiance. Shoppers will easily be able to distinguish where they are, even inside a Backstage that is inside a Macy's. Especially in Macy's that have been renovated or spruced up (as was the one I visited). The difference is noticeable.
  6. No mixed marketing messages: Backstage's price tags show regular prices and deeply-discounted prices, unlike the usual Macy's tags. In other words, welcome to off-price country. (Nice totebag too, free with purchase.)
  7. No mixed marketing messages: Backstage has its own "star" logo (see photo) and it's definitely different from the usual Macy's logo. We're "Backstage" and not on the main stage, get it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tesla, the Marketing Phenomenon

When Tesla's CEO announced the all-new, all-electric Model 3 at the end of March, car buyers didn't just cheer--they threw money at the company. Within three days, Tesla had received 276,000 pre-orders, accompanied by $1,000 per order.

And within days, the company was talking about whether it would deliver on time. After all, it usually delivers fewer than 52,000 vehicles per year, but its stated goal is to deliver 500,000 per year by 2020. Tesla's new battery factory won't be completed until next year, another factor that will affect the ability to deliver Model 3s on time.

Tesla made its name with high-end, all-electric cars that look classy, cost dearly, and perform like, well, high-performance vehicles. The Model 3 is different from the Model X and Model S because it's popularly priced at about $35,000, before government tax credits for energy efficiency. The price has captured many a headline.

Tesla's goal is to popularize eco-friendly cars. Specifically, it wants "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible." The firm has even offered to open its patents to competitors to speed the process. It is building supercharging stations nationwide and around the world to make recharging faster and more convenient for drivers, and increasing the range of its cars to sidestep the fear of not being able to reach destinations before the charge runs out.

Often Tesla is called the Apple of the automotive industry, because of its obsession with tech innovation and design. Yet Apple may wind up competing with Tesla at some point. GM's Chevy Bolt will be a direct competitor when introduced next year. Stay tuned for a fascinating marketing phenomenon.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool Marketing, 2016 Edition

The calendar shows why brands are giving us a smile today: It's April Fool, so let's enjoy the marketing jokes. 

Royal Caribbean, known for cruise marketing, has a new venture, announced (just by accident?!) on April 1: its latest vacation opportunity, Orbiter of the Galaxies. Reservations will be taken for "cruises" starting in 2030.

Think Geek has, as always, a variety of almost-plausible products on its site. How about the Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine? Only $149.99. Dream on.

 Southwest Airlines has a new gimmick for April Fool's Day: "Cash Lav" which takes place inside the jet bathroom. Here's the link. Good luck!

One last prank: Coca-Cola batteries, courtesy of the company's Japanese arm. Sure, caffeine gives everyone a shot of energy. April Fool!