Marketing Monday

Marketing Leaps With Leap Day

The internet may be freaking out about the Oscars last night (yay Leo!), but it’s also freaking out about the fact that today is Leap Day. For instance, Google changed it’s homepage to this rather adorable animation of leaping bunnies:

LeapDayGoogle

Why does February 29th cause such a commotion in the online world? Part of it is probably loosely related to the scarcity principle. To oversimplify, something feeling more attractive because it is rare and doesn’t occur often (in this case, once every four years). It’s not like other holidays that mark tradition or the anniversary of a significant event, it’s simply a day that doesn’t happen very often. As a result, many organizations use it as an opportunity for customer engagement. You might have noticed Facebook trying to encourage you to post a status update about Leap Day (below) or that a trending topic on Twitter is #LeapDay. I can’t put my finger on why it causes such a buzz besides being the double rainbow of the calendar year.

FBLeapDay

Some businesses are taking the “You have a whole EXTRA day to do things!” approach to Leap Day (which works if you don’t try to get existential about it). This article from a marketing firm in Pittsburgh used this approach to create a list of 29 Ways to Use Leap Day to Improve Small Business Marketing, including things like order business cards, update content on your website, clean out your inbox, and so on. Others are simply using it as an opportunity for customer engagement on social media- there have been many a “We’re curious- how are you planning on spending your extra day?” posts. The “Extra Day” posts seem to be more popular among businesses that offer services rather than products.



Other businesses are using Leap Day as a day to offer discounts or special contests. Some are creating 29% off discounts, like this sponsored ad from my Instagram, or this tweet from Old Navy. The “29% off” approach works better for businesses based in products. This 29% flash sale creates also plays on the idea of scarcity, since there’s a limited window to make a purchase and sometimes it’s “While supplies last.”

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LeapDayON

My favorite ad that I’ve seen today came from Skydive New England (because…”leap”). I did not enter this year, because I’m still lukewarm about the idea. Perhaps I’ll be ready by next February 29th…

Skydive

Some restaurants, like the Hard Rock Cafe, offer free birthday meals to Leap Year babies (like my aunt, who has yet to hit adolescence). Many restaurants offer special Leap Day deals in general, if you’re inclined to go out and celebrate. In the meantime, I’ll be mourning the death of Leonardo DiCaprio memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

So if you are presented with a unique opportunity, like you have too much cheese pizza on hand, you have a special visitor coming in for ‘one night only’ or simply you got an extra day in February, take advantage and have some fun.

And if you want to offer something semi regularly but not quite yearly, consider using a leap year or an Olympic year or other event at a set once-every-full-year interval and commit to it like these businesses have done… and your marketing may help you leap ahead. 

How to Get Theyuh from Heyuh: Making Sure Customers Can Find You

My friends and family already know this about me, but I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to navigation. Getting lost is part of my routine at this point, but there are a few occasions where the process turns from “Aw shucks, I’ve done it again” to “I’m late, cold, hungry, and utterly lost. This is no longer funny.” As a business, when you’re trying to direct traffic to your store (online or offline), the last thing you want to do is lose customers. I mean really lose them. As an authority on getting lost, here’s a guide on how to not lose customers (and people like me).

For online businesses/anyone with a website

Check Website Links: Have you ever clicked on a link in a website, expecting to go to a particular page, only to be taken somewhere totally different? No, I don’t want to see men’s watches, I wanted to find that pair of boots…Usually this is an honest linking mistake (other times it’s intentional and shady), but it’s still frustrating from a potential customer standpoint. They might feel a bit misled and betrayed (ok, that’s a little strong, but you get my point). When linking content on your website, check and double check that things are taking you where you’re supposed to go.

Check Website Navigation: Linked to that idea (…heh), does your website’s internal navigation make sense? Meaning, if a person were to start on your homepage, will it be easy for them to get from A to B, or even C and D? Menus and sidebars are your friends here. Speaking of friends, if you need an outside opinion or second set of eyes on your work, ask a friend to go through the ordering process (or whatever it is you need help with). Everyone’s brain works differently, so just because something is laid out in a way that makes sense to you, it may still be confusing for visitors.



For businesses with a website & physical location

Embed a Map: Most business websites have a map embedded somewhere on their site- if not on the homepage, then it’s usually on a Contact/Directions page. Google maps makes it easy to create and embed a map on your website. It’s free, and all you need is a Google account.

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Directions and Pictures: A map is a fantastic starting point, but you can also take things a step further and offer written directions somewhere on your website (we have them on ours). If you’re part of a larger group of buildings, have a weird entrance, or a tricky parking situation, adding these directions will help people make it through the home stretch. Displaying pictures of your storefront/office (exterior, interior, whatever you think will be most helpful) means that when people actually get to your business, they’ll have a vague sense of familiarity. It may seem a bit hand-holdy

writtendirections

Directions in writing…

...and a picture of the building!

…and a picture of the building!

 

Make sure the address is correct in other places: Remember Apple maps? They were useless as a resource because they said they were taking you somewhere, but you always ended up somewhere else. Well, if your business is listed incorrectly on Google (or another online service), you’re setting customers up for a similar ride. If your business has moved, or you’re opening a new business in an old business’s location, take a few minutes to look at the Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other places the address may be listed online and make sure the information is up to date. Our friend Jim Leclair helps businesses do this, so if you have any questions about data maps, he’s the man to talk to!

 

Don’t lose a potential customer on the way from A to B, leading them down a rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland type adventure when they just wanted to buy shoes (…it happens to the best of us). Make sure the path is clear for people to reach you on and off line!

Marketing Monday: Thrive

It’s a new year, which means that many of us have started out the year with resolutions to eat healthier and start working out. After a couple months off for an end of season break, Thrive in Bar Harbor has re-opened with new hours and a new menu. We’re pretty excited, and here’s why you should be, too.

Salad by the pound. One of my favorite things about the Bates College Dining Hall was the “choose your own adventure” aspect, and the climax occurred at the salad bar. Thrive’s new salad bar setup brings me back to my college days (in a good way). You get to pick out only the stuff you actually want, and as much (or little) as you want.

Online ordering. If you have a limited lunch break, Thrive’s online ordering option is perfect. You can access through Facebook or their website and schedule for pickup now or later, whatever works best for you. Personally, I love the ability to order online because talking on the phone is my nightmare, even when amazing food is on the table. If you’re in a rush but don’t have computer access, they also have a “Grab and Go” selection of pre-made meals prepared that morning. Convenient plus nutritious = win-win.

Marketing Pros. In addition to being active on social media, you can also find these cards at both Thrive and Side Street Cafe:

sscthrivecard

It’s easy to see where your traffic comes from online, with the help of tools like Google analytics, but for brick and mortar establishments who want to know where their traffic is coming from, it can be a bit trickier. These cards encourage customers to share how they heard about either place.

Local Businesses Supporting Local Businesses. The idea of “Thrive” goes beyond reaping the benefits of a healthful diet, there’s a community element, too. Thrive’s ingredients are, as often as possible, from local sources, like Mandala Farm in Gouldsboro. Thrive also recently partnered with Destination Health, a new fitness studio in Bar Harbor, for a New Year’s Resolution wellness program. Fostering these community relationships in creative, helpful ways is something we definitely appreciate.

destheatlhthrive

Winter Deals. As many businesses who stay open through the winter know, it’s not the easiest feat. To keep things interesting, Thrive has developed a “Deal a Day” offer throughout the winter. It’s something different every day. This keeps things interesting for the already consistent follower, and gives an incentive for the on-the-fencer to stop in. Last week, one of the deals was “Buy one juice, smoothie, salad and receive $5 off any other item.”

If you haven’t already stopped by Thrive or checked them out online, I recommend that you do both. Looking forward to having this option nearby all year long! You can also hear more about Thrive’s mission by listening to their interview on the My Desert Island podcast a couple weeks ago.



Marketing Monday: Fair Weekend

commongroundposterFun fact about me: I love going to fairs, almost as much as I love fall in Maine. Although I couldn’t convince anyone to go to the Blue Hill Fair with me earlier this month, last weekend’s events more than made up for it. Due to general spontaneity, inability to plan anything in advance, and love for all things fair, I double booked plans to go to The Common Ground and Farmington Fairs. It was awesome.

There are so many things to love about the fair: the noises, the smells (which change depending on whether you’re closer to the livestock end of things or milling about the various food options), . Here are some highlights from my fair-hopping weekend (with some marketing quips thrown in, because I can’t turn that part of my brain off).

Fair 1: The Common Ground Fair

About the Fair. Every fall when I was at Bates, a bunch of fellow students would go to The Common Ground Fair in Unity. My friends and I always wanted to IMG_1486go, but never made it out there. Earlier this summer, with a sneaking suspicion that the Blue Hill Fair were going to fall through, I planted the idea for Common Ground in my mom’s brain. Hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association,  Common Ground has it all: arts and crafts, livestock,
food, health and medicine, energy and shelter, music and entertainment. Mom and I got to the fair first thing on Saturday morning, so there weren’t many people there yet. Since neither one of us had been before, we just went with the flow and had no real agenda throughout the day (minus my fiber obsession, but more on that later). There are a lot of vendors at Common Ground (not sure on an exact number), and the ones that stood out to me didn’t catch my eye because they had flashy displays or other showiness. These are the things that stood out to me:

Small Samples. In addition to larger items, many of the vendors offered smaller scale items or samples of their goods. There was a woodworker who, in addition to dishware and furniture, had an area set aside with wooden tops, and invited people to test them out and by them. I was drawn to the fiber tent (I’ve been intrigued by wool and spinning lately). One of the angora rabbit farms had bagged samples of their wool, asking only for a 25 cent donation if you took a bag. These are only a couple examples of the samples throughout the fair, but it’s an excellent example of the “Sales Funnel” that we’ve talked about. Rather than expecting people to make a leap from never having met you to making a large purchase, these small samples were a way to make a connection and ease people into a larger transaction at some point in the future.

Demos. As previously mentioned, I’ve been intrigued by wool and spinning lately. In the fiber marketplace, I had the opportunity to see some spinning in action. There was a woman doing drop spindle lessons, and I spent a couple minutes spinning wool into yarn (not very well, mind you-it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and practice, I’m assuming). I came away with a spindle of my own, determined to, as my dad would say, “learn me a trade.” This is going to be a winter project, updates to follow. Similar to small samples, demonstrations encourage interactions with potential customers and educate people about your business (or a piece of it).

Almost brought these bunnies home, but settled for some of their wool instead.

Almost brought these bunnies home, but settled for some of their wool instead.

Another highlight was stopping in to see our friends from Tucker Mountain Log Homes showing their stuff in the energy and shelter area!

For next year, besides planning my day a little better (or at all), I’d like to spend more time enjoying the sights and trying out some of the food. Getting there early was a pro move that I highly recommend…but onto the next fair!



Fair 2: Farmington Fair

IMG_1487Later that evening, I went to the Farmington Fair (hosted by the Franklin County Agricultural Society). Although it a different pace with a different crowd, and brought back memories of going to the Bangor State Fair and Union Fairs as a kiddo. One of the best and worst parts of the fair is definitely the cuisine. As a kid, I was too picky to enjoy the staple fair food (all I ate were chicken fingers, which my parents didn’t let me order at the fair). Until introduced to King & Queen’s Fries drenched in vinegar, the fair was all about the rides and trying to win an absurdly over-sized stuffed animal. Overcome by waves of nostalgia, I had some King & Queen’s Fries for dinner (kudos to the guy scooping out the fries- he had a heavy handed pour) and regretted nothing.

What I loved about the Farmington Fair, and the fairs of my childhood, is the blend of unusual (the rides, games, and shows) with the local. For example, there are the food trucks that you see at every . And with agricultural fairs, everything comes from local farms, gardens, and clubs. There’s really no other venue for these elements to interact with each other that makes sense. Chances are, the faces will be familiar, but there’s also the chance to beat your friends in the water gun game, willingly jump on a ride where you spin in circles while you scream and try not to throw up, or eat a donut as big as your own head. And then look forward to doing it all over again next year.

The main reason we went to the Farmington Fair: the Demolition Derby. When people talk about train wrecks that they can’t turn away from…this is what they’re talking about. I lost track of how many rounds there were, but the whole experience was intoxicating, like Gladiator but with beat up cars. One moment I’d be on the edge of my seat, the next peering through my hands- at one point I’d been holding my breath for so long, I almost got sick (not cool in the Grandstand, folks). Sure, it was crowded and a tad overwhelming, but that’s all part of the experience. Towards the end, a The grand finale came was a “Final Car Standing” match, with cars donated by the local Ford dealership.

Plus, we got to watch the moonrise (night before the Super Moon) over the track. How can you beat it?

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Marketing Monday: Run, Eat, Repeat

A couple years ago, I started following some lady runner-bloggers just for fun. One of these blogs is “Run, Eat, Repeat.” Admittedly hooked by the title (it’s my life story in three words!), this blog has become one of my favorite reading materials. It’s not your average fitness/foodie blog. There’s a cool story about a girl (Monica) who struggled with her relationship with food and exercise (something that I think a lot of people find can relate to), and how running has helped her adopt a healthier, fun lifestyle. Her blog isn’t running-centric or wrapped up in any sort of health-craze. It’s more of a fun lifestyle blog with a focus on health related issues.

Here are some key things that keep me reading:

Quirk. There’s a down-to-earth tone in Monica’s blog posts that make her accessible to readers. She’s hilarious and self-deprecating, always trying new things and sharing them with her followers. She adds a lot of eCards, GIFs, and Real Housewives screen-caps to embellish her posts. We share a very similar sense of humor and would probably get along really well in real life… Some of the titles of previous blog posts include: “The Day I Almost Chopped Off My Toe,” “Do I Look Like Zach Galifianakis or Tori Spelling?”, and “If You Don’t Play Lion King with Your Pets What’s the Point?” Her Instagram is also one of my favorites, and it’s hardly about running. In fact, it’s mainly about coffee, food, and everyday struggles of the modern twenty-something.

An example of a recent blog post.

An example of a recent blog post.

Recipes. What I love about the recipes is that a) they’re pretty healthy and meant to keep you going throughout the day, and b) they’re actually simple. Nine times out of ten, I can whip up one of these concoctions without having to go to the store and get 5 different types of seeds and nuts and several different spices and expensive superfood powders that, let’s face it, I don’t have on hand. This girl knows that, while we all may have fantasies and lofty ambitions about meal preparation, the reality is that snooze buttons exist, late night Netflix binges happen, and driving (back) to the store after a day at work just isn’t going to happen. The recipes she shares are for “the everyday.” They’re boosts of inspiration that are totally attainable and delicious (oh yeah, and healthy).

RERbreakfast

This is just a sample from her “breakfast” section, mainly because I’m biased and love breakfast more than any other meal.



Running (and working out in general). I started reading this blog because of the running aspect. While the blog is less workout-centric than Hungry Runner Girl (another favorite), Monica does excellent race-recaps, shares her training plans, and isn’t afraid to talk about how hard, awesome, sweaty, rewarding and disgusting running can be at times.

But it’s not all running. I’m a one-dimensional athlete, but reading this blog inspires me to try out some other things. She’s tried a lot in terms of cross-training. These posts are awesome for me, because I tend to hang back until I know what I’m getting into with a new workout. She also encourages readers to join in on challenges, like last winter’s 25 days of Fitness (a 25 day calendar of circuits you can do at home-no running involved). You don’t necessarily have to be a runner to follow this blog. In fact, Monica frequently drops gems throughout her blog/Instagram/wherever just for her non-runner followers. This adds to her overall accessibility. And there’s a lot of inspiration throughout.

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Product Reviews. Last summer, I got to learn all about Stichfix through Run, Eat, Repeat. This summer, it was Le Tote (similar to Stitchfix, but with accessories included). Every once in a while, she’ll write up lists like Best Gifts for Foodies, Playlist Ideas, or Favorite Fall Running Gear. She also writes flavor reviews for things like Chobani…and sometimes donuts. She was the one who informed me that Pumpkin Spice M&Ms are a thing this fall (sidenote: I have yet to find any of these for myself, but M&Ms are my all time favorite candy, and anyone who can help me find these will be my new BFF). She has also written a review about laser hair removal, lash extensions, and laser liposuction. It just adds to the idea that she’s willing to try things out and report back to all of us, which I definitely appreciate.

RERcross

Discounts and Giveaways. This blog is sponsored by a few different companies, but that’s part of the reason why she has giveaways! Race Registration can be a bit steep (especially out in California, where RER is based), but Monica does have discount codes for certain races that she shares. For non-runners or non -racers, she’ll sometimes offer a discount for a gym membership or class. For everyone, she offered a Le Tote Discount Code to the first 10-ish people. She also occasionally writes reviews for products, and as a result, has regular giveaways. There’s been FitBit, Northface, Pro Compression, Starbucks, and Lulu Lemon, to name a few.

Runner or eater, this blog probably has something in it that you will appreciate. Through her work with Run, Eat, Repeat, Monica has proven that she’s funny, hip, and benevolent. Also, I’m completely serious about those Pumpkin Spice M&Ms…

Marketing Monday: Flavor God

I am in my usual ‘fall as new year’ kick and have been following the Whole30 for about 4 days. Last night, in an attempt to crisp up green beans so they would function even a little bit like the crunchy snack I actually wanted, I realized to get through the next month, I’d have to get a lot more into seasonings.

I’ve been following Flavor God, first on Instagram and then a few other places. I want to talk a little big about what is going right with this product:



Super Short Videos

Many videos are 15 seconds or less and can be watched with or without sound:

VIdeos are oftentimes short and look delicious. Vine (and share) worthy.

Videos are oftentimes short and look delicious. Vine (and share) worthy.

Creating Scarcity

FlavorGod often has flash sales. I even saw a Facebook ad (which I forgot to screenshot) telling me I had 13 minutes to act on a package deal.

flavorgod-creatingscarcityWhen things are constantly available, there is not incentive to act. By periodically retiring and re-releasing spices, Flavor God not only has new things to say but allows his customers to act.

Differentiation

I am pretty clear on Flavor God’s value proposition. His spices are larger, freshly made, endorsed by celebrity chefs/bloggers and otherwise seem different to what is readily available at the supermarket.

Part of the value proposition is the fact that Flavor God spices are larger than major brands.

Part of the value proposition is the fact that Flavor God spices are larger than major brands.

Flavor God regularly illustrates what is valuable about his products, which justify a higher price point and the hassle of having to order them.

Master Of The Feedback Collage

I’m going to say it, this is slightly cheesy but like most slightly cheesy things, people like it:

flavorgod-testimonialcollage

Flavor God regularly not only posts tweets but photos of his customers with the product. Not just celebrities but also normal people and tags them when possible.

Best Emoji Use/Overuse

What first stood out when I began following Flavor God was his borderline aggressive emoji use. Here’s a recent Instagram post to show you what I mean.

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Attentive Of The Marketplace

This is the footer of FlavorGod.com:

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Did Flavor God have to go through extra trouble to make vegan approved seasonings? Maybe, maybe not. But by communicating they work with a vegan diet, he is attracting those customers to his store. By being attentive of the current popular eating trends (gluten free, Whole30, paleo), he is able to have a product not only make food taste better but address the needs of the different dietary communities.





He’s Not Afraid To Ask For The Sale

What I love the most about Flavor God? He asks for the sale. He regularly gives his online store’s URL, he asks people to buy, and even reminds people that he ships worldwide (and other potential barriers to sale) in just about every post.

He doesn’t ask once (like some of us writing this blog) and feel too embarassed to ask more than once in awhile. he asks, regularly. He answers the same questions over and over, with a patience and enthusiasm that’s admirable.

Flavor God, I’m going to buy some of your stuff. Your online marketing is certainly impressive!

www.flavorgod.com

https://instagram.com/flavorgod/

https://www.facebook.com/FlavorGod