Posts Tagged ‘Targeted Marketing’

Stay on target…

March 4th, 2010

Yesterday, I spent doing some initial market validation for as I attended a lunch put on by Corporate Alliance, a business networking group, and a weekly gathering at Gangplank Utah.  I had a chance to talk with businesses owners about what appealed to them about what we’re offering and a group of college students about what reservations and questions they had.

The information wasn’t new but the emotional connection was. Business owners got very excited about the ability to target specific groups, demographics, or geographic locations. Price didn’t even come up in the conversation even with some start-ups later in the day which kind of surprised me. It also helped to hone our focus on what we need to be sure we get right or what is most valued.

Conversations with students were more around how everything worked in the process. Again they helped to focus our efforts on being extra sure that we’re clear and transparent with the entire process. After they understood how everything worked most thought it was a great idea and knew someone who would “totally do this” though interesting to note it wasn’t something they were itching to do themselves.

I’ve got to investigate that a little more to allow for a quicker adoption by everyone instead of just a particular target group (our love group). Any insights from anyone as to possible barriers as to why you wouldn’t want to get paid for wearing a t-shirt?

B2B or not B2B?

September 16th, 2009

To be or not to be...pilgrim

Mr. John Wayne, not a trained Shakespearean actor, said in one of his movies (McClintock!) that “…everyone works for somebody.” At the time this line was delivered he was playing the part of a rich cattle baron. He was lecturing to one of his hands who didn’t think too much of himself. McClintock (not to be confused with Macbeth) pointed out that even the cattle boss worked for the American people.

So who is your customer? Frequently customers are lumped into groups according to common characteristics from a high-level classification of businesses, governments, and consumers down to very specific demographics like a single mother of 3, ages 31-35, college education, geographically located in such and such state, earns so much, etc.

All this information is used to determine how to get customers to buy more. Whether that is by having a recognizable brand that is more visible, or catering to customer’s demands for faster or more convenient service, or even creating something entirely new that customers are sure to want; all of it is to drive up revenues, which, if they’ve run their business right, will result in a profit. (Although some will operate at a loss if it means there’s a chance at a sustainable profit.) Profit is the life blood of an organization that allows for further success. Even non-profits have to cover their costs somehow.

If people don’t want what you are offering, you won’t be in business very long. It is the secret and power of consumerism, though customers often don’t realize that this power is theirs. The world in which we live is largely shaped by businesses through various experiences or services they produce. Businesses exist because people buy from them. So the reverse is the overlooked truth. If people don’t buy from them they will not exist and if they don’t exist then our culture and society won’t be influenced by them.

This realization has changed over time as more and more products proliferate and fill the marketplace. People rely on reviews and opinions of others to make choices about what is going to best meet their needs. Trust and information has become a hot commodity.

Consider this tidbit from an article in The New York Times last year, “According to Forrester Research, 52 percent of people who shop online say they do their product research on Amazon.” Over half of all sales over the internet (US ecommerce industry is estimated $130B/year) are made after checking Customer Reviews and this is just one website, not to mention all the other consumer review sites that are dedicated to specific categories of products. More than $60B is determined by what customers and others say about a product or service.

Even in the brick and mortar stores, word of mouth is still the most powerful prompt for potential customers to become actual ones. Businesses have known the power of a positive endorsement for awhile and frequently make use of it by the use of a shill. The term comes from when a carnival or traveling salesman would plant individuals within a crowd during a sales presentation in order to influence the mob of people into a positive predisposition.  The shill would often be the first to buy the product or perhaps even demonstrate its wonderful effects to encourage those who were hesitant in making a purchase.

Online sites like Amazon have a team dedicated to detecting and minimizing shills in order to maintain their credibility as a trusted source. That trust is what drives customer loyalty and more importantly repeat business.

Just a few clicks away...

Just a few clicks away...

With that in mind, I’d like to propose the growth of an often overlooked kind of business: a consumer to business approach or C2B. Businesses are dying to get your purchasing history and trends. Most online businesses thrive on this fact. From targeted Google Ads to individual banner advertising on a specific blog (anyone interested in sponsoring us feel free to let us know) to collecting transaction histories (Amazon, American express, etc.). They all have some level of interest in what you want or do so that when you do decide to vote with your money you pick them.

Case in point:, a free site that provides personal finance software, was purchased by Intuit, maker of QuickBooks and Quicken, for over 170 million dollars with no plans to change the free component of the site. Why would they spend all that money to get something that won’t make them direct money? One of the reasons is that has a plethora of consumer data just waiting to be mined and turned into targeted marketing for the profit making products.

So why not sell your information directly or agree to be a spokesperson for a product or service you already love?  Tout your 400+ Twitter followers as a distribution channel of information and influence or make your Facebook friends your sales force. Perhaps you could simply be a mini-market research firm sending out surveys to your circle of influence about products or services and then sell the data to the highest bidder or just share it with everyone that participated and build your own credibility among “friendly” consumers.

Another approach is to reverse the idea of buying in bulk; band together with others that want to buy the same thing as you for a group discount. Basically, it allows you, the customer, to offer to purchase a product at a price you set and then your friends bid on the same product. If the company gets enough people that it becomes worth it to them then the company allows that group to purchase the item at the lowest bid made.

Maybe soon...

Maybe soon...

Group-buying was something that was explored pre-dot com bubble burst; here’s a nice article of what happened and why they struggled. They weren’t sustainable because of the amount of time it took to get enough people to merit a significant enough discount. And many times you could find it for cheaper as an individual consumer if you took the time or chances with an eBay auction. Though there has been some success in China and here in the states with things like Groupon. Have things changed with the advent of Twitter and Facebook? Is it time for a good idea to hit its stride? How could it work now?

Remember everyone works for someone. Why not have businesses work for you—or at least with you.

Blatantly Branded

August 27th, 2009

This morning as I stood facing my closet and I realized that almost every T-shirt I own was given to me by some school, employer, or product whose logo was emblazoned on it. I found myself thinking of the day ahead of me and the kind of people I’d be meeting with and what each group might think of a particular branded T-shirt before deciding what to put on. I was pretty much someone’s billboard no matter what I chose.

I started to think about all the people who would see my t-shirt and wondered who else would be interested in advertising to these various groups? Why not make a little something for wearing certain apparel? How viable was it? Would a company really pay for targeted advertising? So I started searching to see what was already out there. I came across which provided a directory of companies that were willing to give you or your dog a free t-shirt. You just create an account, identify a company that you want to represent, answer a questionnaire that includes age, gender, city, state, etc. Then if at least 100 members meet the same criteria, companies are encouraged to move forward with the t-shirt creation process which Gitchers organizes. It seemed like a nice way to save money on a new wardrobe, though you can only do one at a time. The bad news is that it hasn’t reached a critical enough mass that many businesses are participating.

Then I found I think it should be duplicated and scaled. What is so special about it? This is how Jason explains it:

“Well it’s a pretty simple idea and I’m a pretty simple guy. For 2009, I am selling the upper-half of my wardrobe (shirts). I am selling every day of the year at face value, so January 1 is $1 and December 31 is $365. I will be selling all 365 days without exception!

So what do you get for the day(s) you purchased? Well I’m glad you asked. You mail me your shirt (size: X-Large) and you get:

  • Daily Video on YouTube &
  • Daily Photos on the blog & Flickr
  • Daily Posts on the blog & Twitter
  • Calendar (You/Your Company’s Logo & Website)
  • All of these with me wearing your shirt and information about you, your company and/or your product”

2010 is already sold out through May and has added another guy doing the same thing in the process doubled his price. That is over $66k a year for wearing a T-shirt every day!

An alternate to this is an internet TV show Girl In Your Shirt with Jenae that focuses on start-ups. She charges $200 to be featured on her show for the day. There is also a specialized format for bands and artist that want the same treatment at Band In Your Shirt.

Does anyone know of any other similar sites? I was thinking more like a freelance site in which the t-shirt wearer would indicate the city they lived or travelled in and the average day’s travels, types of people they interact with and a fee listed per day. Jason’s in Florida so that leaves a spot for local business in a bunch of major metropolitan areas. I’m telling you, T-shirts are the new billboards. Who’s up for a marketing alternative?

Who wants one?

Who wants one?

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