I have a hangover. I am looking through my brand spankin' new awesomely awesome ipad 2 that I got for Chrismtas and finding that my entire email box is filled with MORE opportunities to spend money. Thank you, Gap, West Elm, Piperlime and every other overly salesy company that is just piling on the sales to put our over stuffed stockings right into shopping indigestion.
I know this is yet another marketing ploy - those well compensated market research firms that these behemoth companies rely on expressly advise that the day after Christmas is a big day for yet MORE visits to retail stores either offline or online. But in the past this research has been relegated to returns, not a giant increase in more consumption.
So I'm wondering why Gap isn't being a little bit funnier about their ads. Instead of the same incarnation of the bazillion ads they sent me prior to Christmas - why not be silly and have people post their most ridiculous Chrismtas outfits they just got and then have them be able to download a 60% off coupon for replacing whatever Grandma thought would look wonderful on them. Why is it just a constant barrage of discounting - no thought no creativity. Or an article on how to save your funniest most random gift and set up a White Elephant party in January. Make 'em giggle. People buy from those people (and brands) that they like.
Or really ramp up the idea that you MUST have gotten a gift card for Christmas and now your money will go twice as far. To me, the emails I just received today from Gap and West Elm and every other marketer are just kind of lazy. It's really just their way of finishing out the last 6 days of the 4th quarter strong for shareholders. And frankly, I want the marketing that is put out in the world to LOVE me back. Not just give me consistent constant heart burn.
So here's who did a delightfully wonderful email campaign today. Photojojo. I love this site - these people are so creative and amazing. Instead of the usual push marketing, they sent out something really valuable. An email on how to take care of that new DSLR (camera) you got for Christmas. How to clean the lenses, how to pump up your outdoor photography, keeping dust from adhereing to your sensor and then how to make a swanky camera bag from any bag you already own - with a very small plug for a camera insert kit that they sell on their site. We're talking a miniscule plug within a ginormous email filled with awesome INFO post Christmas. They had a few other teensy tiny links to other cool producs that they sell - like how to squirt light from a can to make your new tripod shots really pop. Note, they weren't selling the tripod, they're selling the accessory. They're selling the cool, the funky and the educational. But first and foremost - they're connecting with their customers.
I wish Gap had sent out a video on how to accessorize with panache. How to doll up some of your new Christmas digs with a few funky scarves or gloves. Or perhaps West Elm could have done a big spread on organizing all of your awesome Christmas loot and artfully arranging it into your house. Or West Elm could showcase their picture frame collections and partner up with shutterfly or some other photo printing site and offer free prints for people's Christmas photos if they purchase a West Elm Frame in which to finally get it out of the camera and onto the wall.
Small plugs + creative ideas = big punch (in my humble opinion). When the collective culture already spent millions in continuing the consumptive habits of Christmas - perhaps it's time the biggies took one day off from hard hitting selling and decided to connect with their customers instead.
Be the aspirin to their credit card hangover. Make 'em laugh, give them useful info. Promote an amazing charity like Kiva or Heifer. Say thank you for shopping with us this season - we were able to donate this that and the other to an amazing organization because of your gifting generosity. Make 'em feel good, warm and fuzzy, not used and abused. Just don't slap a 60% off discount into a box, send it to your list and call it good. They could even just direct people who also just got fabulous new ipads (lucky ducks just like me) to their pinterest pages (my latest obsession) and show what kind of cool things they've curated for the end of 2011 or new beginnings in 2012. No sale necessary -- they'd be giving people something fun to look up on their swanky new techno gadget. Developing a deeper love of the company because they aren't asking for yet one more purchase.
Engage, educate, entertain. These have always been my marketing biggies. Bury the sell sell sell strategy and think about your customers' mindset before asking them to spend one dime with you--especially after they just dropped a lot of coin for Christmas.
And by all means - get creative in your marketing.
- If you're a coach: host a post Christmas spa day this week. An impromtu complimentary hour of relaxing coaching and meditations, letting the Santas (aka Moms) of the world catch their breath and find some peace for themselves. Send out a few free recordings of past relaxation meditations. Build engagement before building sales with your clients.
- Productivity specialists could do a post of the 10 best Get It Done apps for your new Christmas gadget.
- Graphic designers/pen companies/big stationery companies could do a post on the lost art of the holiday gift thank you note.
- If you're a restaurant, give a big offer to take a few days off of cooking with either dine in or carry out offers that will sweep that customer off her over tired feet - she can use them in January if she's just too full right now.
- If you're a financial advisor, give a complimentary hour long teleclass on how to tackle that post holiday debt once and for all.
- If you're a resort (ike my home town), remind people to unplug from those swanky new ipads, connect and get sking, or tubing or ice skating - simple pleasures (and get out those cool new cameras and start shooting family fun).
Whatever you offer, be it free or paid, be thoughtful in your marketing, generous in your customer gifting and mindful that the day after Christmas is too soon to add to the flood of in box emails that are coming from corporate retail shops that seem to have forgotten how to connect with customers and lose the hard sell for just one day out of the entire year.
I hope you had the merriest of Christmases, the Happiest of Holidays and some moments for yourself squeezed in between the eggnog, the figge pudding and the merry mayhem. I declare today a national day of total rest and relaxation. I'm taking my twins ice skating and am indulging myself in a big day of journal writing. Oh and I might just sneak a peek at my cool new ipad a time or two and hope there's something else in my in box besides a continued barrage of retailishness.
Larock Star Creative
Glass of water at Casa Tua: Aspen, Colorado. December 2011, by Lizzie Larock. Funky wood siding background. Hipstamatic app. iphoneography. A small sampling of Lizzie's funky photos are here.