Monday, May 24, 2010

The Woolly Mammoth Bus

On the Hunt
The Field Museum in Chicago is currently featuring an exhibit entitled, "Mammoths and Mastodons." To advertise for the exhibit, the museum has converted a double-decker tour bus into a giant wooly mammoth, complete with patches of hair on its sides. I first saw this bus about a month ago and I have spent a lot of time since then trying to track it down in order to shoot the video you see above. An informal poll of my friends and co-workers has proven to me that the bus has generated tons of buzz in the city.

Texture Matters

The best part about the Wooly Mammoth bus is how its hair shimmers in the wind as the bus cruises down the street -- that's why I wanted to include a video of the bus instead of just a picture. Because of the bus's unique texture, it's impossible not to notice it when it's in motion. Unique textures draw us in and convert ads that engage only our sense of sight into two-dimensional ads that also engage our sense of touch. My co-worker even witnessed a woman riding on top of the bus mindlessly stroking the hair on the side of the bus. Why was she doing that? Because people love to touch and feel unique textures.

Adding texture to a printed piece can be incredibly effective. I would be drawn to a print advertisement for a golf course that features a fine grade of sand paper over the top of an image of a sand trap. Imagine a print ad for a bar that features an attractive woman wearing a slinky, shiny dress in which the ad includes tin foil over the top of where her dress would be. Consider a billboard for a shampoo in which the featured model's hair extended above the billboard into a ponytail made of fake hair. While more expensive to produce, these added textures would certainly be noticed.

Add This to Your To-Do List

Find ways to add texture to your print advertisements. Your textured ads will cut through the clutter and allow people to engage with them more. I have previously written about how scratch n' sniff postcards could save the direct mail industry. Now, I'm encouraging you to add texture to your printed pieces as well. Can you think of a way to combine sight, texture, and smell? That would certainly be the perfect storm of texture in advertising.

There's never a lack of ideas.

PS I chased the bus down the street and captured one more video (below). Thanks to all my friends and co-workers who patiently listened to me obsess about the Wooly Mammoth bus for a month -- and to all of those who helped me stake it out.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Groupon Dilemma

One Great Deal Per Day
Groupon has experienced tremendous growth because it offers one fantastic deal and one small "side deal" per day to a group of people in selected cities around the country. Yet, Groupon's existing business model only allows for growth in the form of attracting new customers in existing cities or expanding to new cities to attract new customers. Eventually, Groupon will run out of new cities in which to expand, so it needs to find a new way to grow. The solution? Sub-segmentation and targeted offers.

Segmented Markets Aren't Good Enough

Groupon currently segments its customers by geographic location. Essentially, the company has two key business principles:

  • Offer one featured deal per day on the website, based on the city in which you live.

  • Encourage customers to sign up to receive one email per day about the deals of the day.
Herein lies Groupon's dilemma: The company knows that a certain percentage of its customers will not be interested in its deal every day. To make more money, Groupon could increase the number of deals it offers per day. But, it can't do that because its customers put a high value on seeing just one big deal per day.

The solution comes in a targeted daily side deal in which customers are given targeted offers based on their interest sub-segment.

Targeted Side Deals

I suggest that Groupon immediately begin offering targeted side deals to customers based on their interests. They can derive their customers' interests by looking at their past purchase behavior. For example, I have purchased rounds of golf from Groupon in the past, so I would be put into the "sports" sub-segment. Other sub-segments would be "spa," "restaurants," and "theater," as examples.

Groupon would still offer one big deal per day to everybody in Chicago, but the company would send targeted side deals via email to each of its customers, based on their sub-segment. By doing this, Groupon does not sacrifice the appeal of one big deal per day and it actually makes each side deal more relevant to its customers -- it gets the best of both worlds.

The Lesson

Segmenting and targeting your customers (whether it's based on location or other demographics) is simply not enough to prosper. Businesses must form customer sub-segments based on actual customer behavior. Then, targeted marketing communications can be created for each sub-segment. Customers receive highly relevant messages from companies and respond more frequently to those offers.

Add This To Your To-Do List

Form some sub-segments of your customers based on their purchase behavior. Will the sub-segments be based on frequency of purchase? Amount of average purchase? Type of products purchased? Decide what's best for your business. Then, design specific messages for customers within those sub-segments, send them out, and measure your results. Repeat the process by improving the sub-segments and messages and you'll be well on your way.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Thanks to Professor Ed Malthouse and Northwestern University's Masters Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications program, of which I am a current student, for inspiring this post.