E-commerce Site Marketing: Products Don’t Always Speak for Themselves

Many times a great promotional product remains unseen by the elusive customer.  What’s simply so sad is that many great promotional products should reach the hands, households, and hearts of consumers, but fail to be noticed.

Truly, there is no marketing mix miracle that will shine an illuminating spotlight on any given product, but many simple tactics are underutilized or overlooked.  However, by starting at the marketing basics and expanding outwardly into the vast digital universe of E-marketing opportunities, a retail channel can nurture a product with the marketing strategy it deserves.

E-commerce sites are perhaps the most underutilizing of product marketing strategies.  Products are sold best when they serve as extension of your business’ core brand.  If your company is a hot, hip, snarky skate shop, then your product marketing should reflect the pungent attitude of you and your customers.

Not all your promotional products need your equal attention!  You could call out your hottest selling items with digital branding that exemplifies the youthful hipness of your target customer.  If your skate shop’s hottest item is a skull cap branded with your logo, then you have a perfect opportunity to leverage its popularity to brand both your main site and Ecommerce site.   Create some cool collateral imagery of your target, being hip as hell, wearing your product.

There are many awesome ideas that can make or break the bank when it comes to promotional product sales.  If you have any genius epiphanies you’d like to share, then let’s get a dialog going.  We’d love to bounce ideas back and forth.  In the meantime, check out some cool, super relevant tips to help your E-commerce site’s search engine optimization in this Mashable.com article: http://mashable.com/2012/03/01/ecommerce-seo-tips-google/

Effective Communication: Lessons From Netflix

Okay, so the Netflix debacle is definitely not a recent story fresh off the presses, but before you dismiss us as being behind the times, we’d like to invite you to read a quote from a communication Netflix produced for its shareholders (focus on the very last sentence):

“$7.99 for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for unlimited DVD are both very aggressive low prices, relative to competition and to the value of the services, and they are the right place for Netflix to be in the long term. What we misjudged was how quickly to move there. We compounded the problem with our lack of explanation about the rising cost of the expansion of streaming content, and steady DVD costs, so that … many perceived us as greedy. Finally, we announced and then retracted a separate brand for DVD. While this branding incident further dented our reputation, and caused a temporary cancellation surge, compared to our price change, its impact was relatively minor.”

-“Netflix Loses 80,000 Customers in Quarter” mashable.com

Taking a look back since August when the sudden drop of 80,000 customers occurred, Netflix is certainly still a top competitor in the content streaming world. In fact, Netflix posted above forecasted earnings for Q3 despite all the drama. We live our lives by the numbers, but it is important to make sure we step back and scrutinize those misleading little digits and find the whole story.

The bottom line is that ALTHOUGH Netflix’s bottom line is doing relatively well, its customer base is none too pleased with the company’s lack of effective communication. In the article by Sam Laird of Mashable.com, “Amazon Wins, Netflix Loses in Holiday Customer Satisfaction Study” Laird points out that the effects of the miscommunication have gone far beyond that fateful August decision. Customers remember feeling distrust and Netflix’s reputation has suffered long-term damage.

The mistake is not so much that Netflix changed its pricing structure (companies do this all the time); it is that the company botched engagement with its audience on the proposed changes. The communications department failed to give warning, take into account customer feedback, and create a dialog with their audience to ensure an understanding of the proposed changes. Do you remember the fifth “P” from our first blog? Once again, the human “people” communication factor was severely overlooked and social media caused the crisis to go viral.

I think you all know where the lesson is here, but if you are already half asleep or would just rather us tell you, well…here it is: technology mandates that your messaging involves both communication to your audience and audience feedback. The second element is where you can build a relationship with your consumer base through interaction. You can get insights into the opinions, likes, and dislikes of your customer simply by communicating and listening.

Whether you are a nonprofit designing a promotional product line, or a film festival gearing up for your festival’s events management, clear communication with your customers not optional; it is marketing law. Make sure that your customers are part of the communication process and not simply receptors of your messaging.

Let us leave you with a few tips we’ve bumped into along the way:

  1. Tell the Truth:If you say your product is recyclable make sure that it is. Period.
  2. Tell the Whole Story: If your product is recyclable, share your materials, which parts are recyclable, and how it is recyclable. Check out Recycled, Recyclable, and Green…Oh My for more info.
  3. Nonverbal Communication Is Worth 10,000 Words:The designs you select for your product do, and will, have an impact on the way your customer perceives you.
  4. Engage Your Audience: Use your social media, your website, your product, and your event to communicate the nature of your brand and your value proposition. Feedback from your customer base is important so answer questions, create a dialog, and augment your message if need be.
  5. Engage Technology: Your company website or Facebook page is a great way to find out just how your customers perceive you. Leave the focus groups to the market research stats gurus and do a bit of your own sleuthing by browsing your comments. You may find your next great promotional idea from within that dialog.

The Fifth “P”

We remember Sir Isaac Newton, right? For those of you who slept through that lesson, he was the guy who discovered a ton of important laws that govern physics as we know it in the modern age. Similarly, the founding fathers of marketing, whoever they may be, have set into motion their own system of rules. In this subjective business there are no laws. However, one set of rules that marketers love dearly are known as the 4 P’s (product, place, price, and promotion for those of you who need a refresher). Whether you are selecting the perfect promotional product line or designing a website, these rules will no doubt guide the strategy of your messaging.

Normally, plucking a lesson right out of academia and exemplifying upfront would not be considered blog best practices. However, an awesome marketer who I had the pleasure of taking a class from decided to shake up this 4P model. He added an additional component: a fifth “P” (gasp!). Technology has changed the model.

This fifth “P” takes into account the people who are stakeholders within any marketing framework. Whether an audience member who is a part of your target market or an interested Tweeter passing along your blog to their content-hungry fan base, technology has dictated that marketers, more than ever, get a conversation going. We are the party-starters of the business world.

That being said, we invite you to explore interesting topics with us through our own blog at The Works Creative Group. As we explore new topics, grow and expand our content we want our audience to participate. Link us to an interesting article, share a blog that caught your eye, even submit your own content if you feel so inspired. Our goal is to learn more from you, our audience, than we could possibly provide in return. Now, let’s get the conversation started….