Posts Tagged ‘marketing strategy’

Skylanders Toys Show Marketing Genius

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012


Shortly after Christmas, I picked up my son from playing at a friend’s house and immediately noticed a frenzied spark in his eyes.

“I know what I want to spend my Christmas money on!” he exuberantly stated. “Kyle got a Skylanders game for Wii and it’s SO cool!”

Key elements of Skylanders

© 2011 Activision Publishing, Inc

Ok, I’ll bite, I thought. I asked him what the game involved and why it was so fun. What followed was what I perceived to be the most calculated marketing genius since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Here’s the low-down:

  1. It’s a video game. Available for all of the major gaming systems (Wii, Playstation, Xbox), it uses the tried-and-true game formula of first-person adventure that children to adults are familiar with.
  2. The game has special gear. In order to get started with the game, you need to purchase the required accessories, namely a starter pack that has several plastic action figures and a special platform on which to place them. The platform informs the game system which character has been selected by the player.
  3. There are collectible characters. The characters, available in additional single packs for $7.99, have different powers and skills associated with them. Essentially, they’re 3D equivalents of collectible Pokemon or Yugioh cards—which my son started collecting when he was about 5 years old. To advance in the game, players will need to collect additional characters from those purchased in the initial starter pack. (more…)

The Number One Rookie Marketing Mistake

Monday, October 11th, 2010

“That didn’t work,” my clients tell me. “So I didn’t do it again.”

I hear this from business owners time and time again: they sent a direct mail postcard out and nobody came in to the store. They placed an ad in a magazine and they didn’t get an increase in sales. They Tweeted for a couple of weeks and nobody followed them.

Their conclusion: the marketing approach didn’t work.

Reality: there’s not enough data.

Marketing efforts rarely have a 1:1 cause/effect relationship when it comes to return on investment. Rather, it’s through repeated, consistent exposure to target audiences in a variety of media that gets your brand noticed, leading to a steady growth in sales over time.

Let’s look at it another way. Imagine yourself on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. You sink your oars into the water and give a hard pull. At the completion of the movement you look up and see: no change. You’re still in the middle of the ocean. Now imagine you do this motion for days, weeks and months on end. Eventually, you’ll look up and see land.

So, to recap: the Number One Rookie Marketing Mistake? Inconsistency.

How to fix it? Have a plan and stick with it!

For example, if you’re running a direct mail campaign, plan to hit the same group of people with different mailings weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. When placing an ad, buy ad space in the same publication for a year at a time. If you’re marketing through social media, reach out to your Facebook fans daily, and Tweet (and respond to others’ tweets) several times a day. Of course, these are just examples; the actual number should be determined by your desired outcome.

And speaking of desired outcomes, one last thought: there’s a reason it’s called “marketing” and not “sales.” When you view marketing as  building a relationship between your brand and your target audiences, the desired outcome becomes brand loyalty versus a one-time sale. Let your sales people do the selling once your clients are in the store.

Marketing the GoGirl

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Yesterday morning I came across an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about an—er—implement that allows women to urinate standing up. It’s being marketed as a GoGirl, a pocket-sized piece of silicone that slips into a container in your purse and gives women the ability to discreetly take care of business when conditions are less than desirable.

Now, I realize you may be thinking, “This is an odd thing to write about on a marketing and graphic design blog!” but hang in there. The back story of the GoGirl is what interests me.

Turns out the product is currently in its first rebrand, being led by Sarah Dillon, a market researcher by trade. Sarah saw the potential in the product, but given her background, approached the business opportunity strategically, enlisting focus groups to learn about the product’s potential in the marketplace. Clearly, the research paid off. Everything about the product appears to be crafted to appeal to active women: its size, the price, the name, the package design, and even the tagline: “Don’t take life sitting down.” They aggressively market the product to women who are literally “on the go”: at festivals, fairs and womens’ expos, and take advantage of non-traditional marketing mediums such as sponsoring races, Facebook and other internet marketing.

Photo by Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune; "Go Girl sales director Jan Edman, center, and President Sarah Dillon in front of an advertisement for their product. They project that the Hopkins-based company will produce more than 1 million units this year and achieve $15 million in revenue by 2013."

Clearly, Sarah Dillon understands women, and has put together a marketing and branding package to sell an unusual product to the masses. Which is more than can be said for the first incarnation of the GoGirl.

Originally designed by Dr. Jim Block and dubbed “FemMed”, the product never went anywhere. The name and appearance was far too clinical, and didn’t appeal to women’s lifestyles. Now, as GoGirl, the product has the brand and marketing strategy in place to reach its target audiences and turn a profit. So: same product + understanding of target audiences + good marketing strategy = successful outcome.

I love this story because it really speaks to the power of the process we follow here at Mix Creative. When we get to know a new client, we go through a branding process that explores audiences, competitors, product features and benefits, the brand description and story, and the tone; then we use that to strategically design visual elements of the brand and determine the best route for marketing the company’s product or services. The result? Success in the marketplace.

So, Sarah Dillon, for getting it right, let me say, “You GoGirl!”

(tee hee, couldn’t resist)

(re)Communicating Your Capabilities

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Recently I spoke with a marketing colleague of mine who expressed frustration that a long-time client had been talking to other agencies to develop a new website and e-mail marketing. Having been their agency of record for all of their print marketing and advertising, my colleague expressed to the client his confusion.

“Oh, you can do websites?” was the client’s response.

It seems that in their business interactions, the client had come to think of my colleague as a go-to person for print and advertising. Comfortable in that role, my colleague had neglected to mention his full capabilities, of which websites and email marketing were also strengths.

It’s human nature to categorize the things around us. Gestalt psychologists demonstrated this phenomenon well through visual tests that show how we perceptually organize the world around us. Their results described an overarching principle of pragnänz, which is that the simplest and most stable interpretations of the world around us are favored. Neuroscientists have documented these brain short-cuts even at the cellular level, showing that the branches on brain cells are trimmed away over time to strengthen some brain pathways over others.

The lesson here? If you want your clients to change their perception of your company’s capabilities, you’re going to have to retrain their brains. Here are three simple strategies:

  1. Talk to your client about your capabilities. Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. But think about it, when is the last time you integrated a little advertisement for your other services into a conversation with your client? One strategy: use an example of how you created a solution in similar situation with another client. Expand on the different services you provided.
  2. Try an email footer. Communications guru Colleen Wainwright suggested changing up your email footer frequently as a tool for self promotion. Try something like: “Did you know we can create _______ for you? Call us for more information.”
  3. Share examples. Shapco Printing in Minneapolis does a great job of communicating their capabilities by sending examples every few months or so of a piece that was printed using their equipment, accompanied by a letter highlighting their capabilities. You can try this too, by sending examples of your work—printed or electronically—to your clients, with a personal note that includes a detail about the project.

Since we’re working against brain chemistry here, it’s a good idea to make communication about your capabilities an ongoing activity. Just think: someday there may be a brain pathway out there dedicated to your business!