ethanbeute

Marketing | Environment | Culture

Tag: coupon

If You Can’t Keep People in the Seats, What Good Is The Game?

You can build the stadium, field a team, schedule the game, arrange concessions, and sell corporate sponsorships, but if you can’t keep fans in the seats all season, season after season, what good is the game?

Answer: if it doesn’t work for the audience, it doesn’t work for anyone.

empty, chairs, crowd, audience

If you can't keep people in the seats, what good is the game? (Image from: theemptystadium.blogspot.com)

I received an email from a colleague at the office alerting me to a new offering from a competitor.  The offering’s a new website; its url alone was enough to inspire this post.  I’ll go straight to my take.

There are three primary stakeholders here: the website users, the advertisers on the site, and the company building, running, promoting, and selling the site.

This is the list stakeholders who were considered in rank order: the company themselves, their advertisers.  It’s a basic selling orientation, rather than a proper customer orientation.

The website, KRDO.biz, is a combination directory, deals, and portal site from a local television station.  Established competitors in this space include Google, Groupon, Craigslist, DexYellowPages, SuperPages, and dozens of others.  And that’s to say nothing of all the local and regional competitors with similar offerings, especially in the deals space.  The market’s saturated – both for audience and for advertisers.

It immediately reminded me of a site they offered up and backed with tens of thousands of dollars in local television advertising inventory a couple years ago, GColorado.com, a local classifieds site.  A visit to that site today is similar to, but far less interesting than visiting a ghost town.  There’s absolutely nothing on offer in most of the categories.  In the common “Cars for Sale,” there are three cars.  More importantly, there’s nothing the site offers that Craigslist didn’t bring to this market nearly a decade ago.

The problem: neither of these sites meets an unserved or underserved market need, solves a problem, makes something easier, delights or entertains, or provides anything unique or new.  A television ad may motivate you to visit (that’s a stretch, I know), but a tired initial experience won’t bring you back.  I would also add that the other audience – the advertisers – does not really have anything new in this offering, either.

Instead, the sites fit these criteria: we can definitely build it and we’re pretty sure we can sell it to advertisers.

The website users, of course, are absolutely critical to long term success.  Even in the short term, though, their interests supersede those of the two other stakeholders.  Yet they feel ignored in both of these offerings.

If there’s no sustained traffic, the sites will slowly die, as advertising contracts fail to get renewed.  I don’t know what the fate of the directory/deals/portal will be, but the classifieds site was DOA and never found its pulse.

Entirely Different Angle

Would the same people who are building, selling, and marketing this site invest in it the project with their own money?  Would they sacrifice their employment within the television operation to dedicate themselves to it exclusively?  If so, there’s more at play here than I’ve observed.  If not, then to whom does the offering seem viable?

Qualifier

My purpose here is not to denigrate a competitor.  They’re not alone in their approach; this is certainly happening everywhere all the time.  Bonus points do go to them for trying to open up new streams of revenue from non-television sources.  And it’s not like I or the local television operation in whose employ I remain for a few weeks is aggressively and insightfully innovating online (on the upside, we remain focused on continuing to be the top-billing station and most-watched news product in the market).

Admittedly – and finally – there may be more at play than I’ve observed (I hope there is).  It’s not like I’m on a “explain your underlying strategy to me” or “describe for me the finer points and assumptions of your business model” basis with these people.  If the site finds success, I’ll stand corrected and be served my own foot.

The Bottom Line

For whom did you build your product or design your offering?  If it’s not for a stakeholder necessary for long term success, it’s time to double back, review, and take another go at it.  Or … what good is the game if you can’t keep people in the seats?

Click here for an excellent overview of a successful local media company.

 

 

Results from Free Facebook Ads

If you read magazines like Wired or Inc. (yes, both still appear in print on actual paper), you may have noticed offers from Google and Facebook on those little pull-out/fall-out cards that are annoyingly tucked, glued or stapled into just about every magazine.

The offers are basically identical and provide a unique code to cash in for $75 in Google Adwords or $50 in Facebook Ads.  It’s a smart way for each company to invite prospects into their easy and cost-effective ad systems.  It’s free money for me and wholly trackable sampling for them.

While reading the recent issue of Inc. featuring a cover story from Jason Fried about how to get good at making money (note: I really enjoy his ongoing involvement with Inc.), I decided to take Facebook up on their offer.  I used the $50 ad credit to prop up a community page I made for my neighborhood, Ivywild Neighborhood – Colorado Springs.

Ivywild, Ad, Facebook, Facebook Ad, Neighborhood, Colorado, Sign, Advertisement

My set-it-and-forget-it Facebook ad for "Ivywild Neighborhood - Colorado Springs"

My approach was smart from the start, but lazy through the finish (I never A/B tested or adjusted any copy or imagery).  I set up the ad to target people who:

Why Bristol?  They’ve got the biggest Facebook fanbase – by far – of any neighborhood business (about 3,500).  Along with The Blue Star and J Gregory Salon, Bristol is also right across the street from the sign that marks, declares and names the neighborhood.  I used this familiar sign as the primary image in the ad; it’s also the primary profile picture of the community page.

The ad clicked through to the Info section of the Ivywild community page, which defines the purpose of the page, the informal boundaries of the neigbhorhood and a touch of history.  I favored this over the wall, because the page has limited user interaction at this point; it isn’t as “alive” as I’d like it to be.

I set it up as a cost per click campaign with a budget of $5 per day.  I let it run past the 10 free days and ended up paying $15 out of pocket.

Campaign results (rounded):

  • 180,000 impressions with a click through rate of 0.06%
  • 50,000 “social impressions” with a click through rate of 0.094%
  • Total clicks of 110 / Total “social clicks” of 48
  • Total CPC of $0.59 / Total CPM of $0.35
  • 97 fans before the campaign, 163 at the conclusion of the campaign
  • 60% conversion rate (66 fans from 110 clicks)
  • Cost per conversion of about $1

Facebook’s social metrics refer to impressions that include the names of people to whom you’re connected who already like the page.  As seen in the results above, the social piece is pretty powerful.  Though they accounted for 28% of the impressions, they accounted for 44% of the clicks.

This free, simple effort grew the page 68%.  It was fun, easy and interesting.

I recommend you pull the offer out of a magazine on a newsstand today … unless they’re only running it with paid subscribers (all the better for tracking and measuring), in which case I won’t advocate you pulling the offer from a magazine in someone’s mail box.

Here’s a simple something I wrote back in May 2010 about why I created the page.

Way Beyond – Excellence in Customer Service

BedBathBeyond

So, you want customer loyalty.  You’d like to enjoy the benefits of positive word-of-mouth, the single most powerful form of advertising.  Here’s an idea: strategically organize yourself around customer needs and interests.

Two ways that Bed Bath and Beyond has earned my family’s loyalty:

1) Absolutely no-hassle returns

On two separate occasions, years apart, and in different states, Bed Bath and Beyond has gone WAY beyond.  The most recent experience involved an $80 Cuisinart coffee maker.  We’re not sure when we bought it – maybe four or five years ago … who knows?  Who cares!?  Bed Bath and Beyond sure doesn’t.

One morning, my wife flicked the “brew” switch and was met with no brewing and the smell of burning plastic.  Not wanting to throw it out, she offered it up to Bed Bath and Beyond for return to and refurbishment by Cuisinart.  With no receipt, no evidence that we purchased it at a Bed Bath and Beyond, and no idea when we’d actually purchased it, the customer service person directed her toward the coffee maker section of the store, had her pull a brand-new version of the same model, and exit the store with it.  No paperwork to fill out – just a brand-new coffee maker.

A few years back, we enjoyed an identical experience with a $40 or $50 tea kettle – owned it for several years, traded it in for a brand-new version of the same model when the handle came loose.  No questions asked and no paperwork required.

That’s an experience worth talking about.  Design a policy that provides that experience to lots of people and you’ve created a word-of-mouth machine.  Before writing this, I told the story to at least a dozen people with enthusiasm.  You can’t buy that kind of advertising.  At worst, it cost them $60 (or whatever their purchase price from Cuisinart is).

2) Nearly no-rules coupons

Bed Bath and Beyond issues lots of coupons (typically 20% off) and lets you use them quite liberally.  Just about the only restriction: you can’t combine them for 100% off an item and some brands sold in-store opt out.

Expiration dates?  They don’t matter.

Only got one coupon?  Take 20% off the highest-price item you’re buying, not the lowest.

Multiple coupons in a single transaction?  No problem – it’s encouraged.

When they show up in the mail, hang on to those Bed Bath and Beyond coupons.  Next time you need a new set of towels or you want to give a dozen Snuggies as gifts, bring them all in and enjoy 20% off every item you buy, provided you’ve got that many coupons.

Important to note: the prices are reasonable with or without the 20% discounts.  In contrast, Kohl’s seems to mark up many items in order to have them constantly “on sale.”  Also in contrast, Kohl’s spends a ton of cash on prime-time television.  Bed Bath and Beyond gets by and even thrives on direct mailing of coupons.

Other observations

In general, the store is reasonably well organized.  It’s got enough solid sections (kitchen tools, cookware, appliances, glassware, bedding, towels, carpeting, etc) to bring you in, each with a reasonable range of brands, styles, and price points.  Plus, they’ve got a ton of unexpected items between sections (think: “who-invented-that!?” type gadgets).  It’s often a pleasant, entertaining and productive shopping experience.

I’d never have expected to write this kind of a post, but a store that will have me walk in with a years-old, non-functioning product and walk out with a brand-new one without any questions or any paperwork is serious about their customers … and that’s something I appreciate.

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