NFL tries to appease female fans after purse ban: “Fanicures,” pop-up stores and things that go wrong

A photo of a hand with manicured nails. The nails are blue, red and white in varying simple designs to match the colors of the Houston Texans
Thanks to CoverGirl for my “fanicure” at the Houston Texans game.

Before heading to the Houston Texans game today, I read CultureMap’s article titled,  NFL tries to court back female fans: Does a pop-up lounge with “fanicures” make up for purse ban?. As a marketer, things like this fascinate me, so one of my friends and I ventured into the pop-up store.

The merchandise was exactly what they said, very female-oriented and very trendy. the free “fanicures” were great (thanks CoverGirl!) and the photo booth was fun. Overall, do I think they won back some female fans with it? Maybe. I, for one, at least appreciated the gesture.  And I learned a lot about products now available that I didn’t know about before.

But not everything went well for this special promotion event. There were three broken windows that they might want to address before their next event:

  • There was an hour wait for a “fanicure,” But, they took my cell number and told me they’d text me when it was my turn. Two hours of holding my cell at the game and still no text. So, I went back. Their text feature wasn’t working, but the woman organizing the fanicures told me she’d fit me in next and she held true to that.
  • The CultureMap article said they wouldn’t be selling purses. Ironically, they were.  Just don’t try to bring the purse you buy there into the stadium. They don’t meet the NFL Bag Policy guidelines.
  • The photo booth was a lot of fun and we had a good time partaking in that.  But, when we got our printout, we had no where to put it to keep it safe. The printed photo strip was longer than our allowable bag size, so it wouldn’t fit anywhere.

Overall, I think this was a great event in the long process of winning-back female fans and the broken windows were pretty minor considering. Best of luck to the NFL and GO TEXANS!

How young professionals buy gifts

It’s Thursday night at 10 p.m. and I just found out that  my friend’s birthday is on Monday (not shocking, I’m horrible with important dates).  I decide he needs a present.

Gift-giving as a young professional can be a challenge for the following reasons:

  • My young professional friends, because of jobs or just looking for a life change, are scattered across the country and the globe. Mailing packages is slow and expensive.
  • Many of my friends are located in major metropolitan areas and, thus have small living arrangements. Material gifts (decorations, etc.) are not a good thing to send someone with only 600 square feet to work with (unless you are an IKEA guru of course).
  • Many of my friends are single and very professionally successful. They can mostly buy whatever they want themselves.

This particular friend lives in Miami, (side note: if you are beautiful, single, independent woman in Miami, I have a guy for you!).  So, how do I make sure he has a present from me on his special day?

A plate of an assortment of baklava
Photo from Flickr: Bitman

Purchase a gift the way many young professionals do these days:

  1. Conduct a Google search to get the address of his office (note: had I not known the name of his company, I would have checked his LinkedIn profile to get it).
  2. Type in his office address into Yelp and search for food nearby (I’ve found that food delivery is a great gift for my guy friends). Sort the results by distance from his office.
  3. Discover that there is a baklava place right down the road from him. This happens to be his favorite treat. Read the online Yelp reviews and they are very positive.
  4. Click-through to the restaurants website, which is actually, a food delivery ordering site.  Perfect!
  5. Order a good amount of baklava, select Monday at 11 a.m. as the delivery time, add extra tip to encourage safe and accurate delivery, write-in notes recommending they call him ahead of time since he won’t be expecting it, and pay via debit card.
  6. Receive a thank you text from him on Monday.
  7. Feel like a good friend for getting him something he will enjoy.

Gillette razors: Will their pricing strategy be their demise?

‘I wanted to ask you whether you’d got any razor blades,’ he said.

‘Not one!’ said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. ‘I’ve tried all over the place. They don’t exist any longer.’

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he had two unused ones which he was hoarding up. There had been a famine of them for months past. At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the ‘free’ market.

‘I’ve been using the same blade for six weeks,’ he added untruthfully.

– George Orwell’s 1984

If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with Gillette razors. Sometime seems very wrong with spending upwards of $4 per razor blade that will last a little over a week. It’s an expensive I simply would prefer to avoid. So, avoid I’ve tried. I’ve tried every other type of razor out there from the Meijer brand razor blades to ShopSavvy’s recommendation of the CVS Pharmacy razor blades (which, by they way, I found to be very unsafe to use). But, I’ve never found a razor blade that can compare to Gillette brands. So, grudgingly, I continue to buy them.

That’s why the article “A David and Gillette Story” from the Wall Street Journal gives me hope. Gillette has enjoyed years of expansive growth without ever having to reconsider its pricing strategy, but it looks like that may be changing.  In general, I think marketers don’t pay enough attention to the price part of the 4 P’s. But, in Gillette’s case, ignoring the price part of their marketing strategy might just be their demise. Or, at the very least, cost them significant market share. They’ve ignored the calls from their consumers for a lower-priced, quality blade and their consumers like me aren’t too happy about it. I buy Gillette razor blades because I don’t have a viable alternative. But the minute I do have one, I’ll switch.

So congrats to Dollar Shave Club for asking us all to rethink the price of our blades and good luck to Gillette as they reevaluate their pricing strategy.

A warning: The video below contains implied explicit content.

Twitter, a good marketing tool?

I know I’m picking a fight on this one, but Twitter may not be the best marketing tool for your business or organization. I know this might strike you as odd. After all, you hear about Twitter everywhere and you see the Twitter logo everywhere, but here are my main arguments as to why Twitter might not be for your business or organization:

  • As of December 8, 2010, only 8% of the population was on Twitter.  For rural areas, including the one I live in, the actual percentage is much smaller.
  • In addition, Twitter has a large number of accounts, but not a large number of active users.
  • Twitter may not cost you anything when you are considering only actual dollars in advertising spending, but it does cost you in time. My general rule of thumb is that you should be updating Twitter 4-5 times per day. But, honestly, I fall short of this rule a lot because I simply don’t have the time to devote to updating Twitter plus doing other things I need to do. So, you need to ask yourself, do you really have the time to devote to this medium?

So think of it this way, what if your marketing manager came to you asking you to allow him or her to spend 30-60 minutes of their 8 hour day each day on a marketing program that would reach less than 8% of your market and in a program that very few of those users are actively engaged with? Would you say yes?

Twitter everywhere!

Undeniably, the average person hears about Twitter a lot.  But here’s my theory on why:

From my experience, the top four types of people/organizations that use Twitter are:

  • The media
  • Celebrities
  • Public relations/marketing professionals
  • Politicians

In comparison, in my opinion, the top four types of people/organizations that influence what we see/hear about are:

  • The media
  • Celebrities
  • Public relations/marketing professionals
  • Politicians

So, in following that rationale, doesn’t it make sense that, even though the actual number of people in the US that use Twitter is small the average person hears about it quite often since the people who influence our media the most are those that use it?

A good marketing tool?

So is Twitter a good marketing tool for your business or organization? Maybe and maybe not. What it really depends on is who you are trying to reach. Many businesses, such as food trucks in urban settings, have been very successful using Twitter to promote themselves. However, other businesses may not have that luck. My advice would be to critically look at your target market and their media habits. If you are targeting a group that, in large numbers, is actively using Twitter, then it may be worth using as a marketing tool. However, if your target markets aren’t using Twitter, then you might be much better off spending your time (which is money) someplace else.

Ikea gains revenue by keeping you in their store

“Ok, but if we are going to Ikea, you must be prepared to spend all day there,” is a common warning that I say to my friends. So, you can easily guess that I would most certainly we considered an Ikea brand fanatic. In fact, so much so, that I once told an inquiring home builder friend of mine that my perfect home could be summed up by the phrase, “Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, Ikea interior design.”

But, in reality, my warning of it being an all-day trip is not unusual and it’s exactly what Ikea wants. A core component of retail marketing is coming up with new and innovative ways to keep customers in the store and Ikea has mastered this.

Here is a quick  list of some of the key ways Ikea keeps you in their stores:

  • They design their stores like a maze, so it’s virtually impossible to get out without going through the whole store.  I’ve been to the Ikea closest to me enough that I know the shortcuts. But if you are visiting an Ikea for the first time, you’ll find it easy and yet, slightly painful, to have to cover every inch of the store to get what you want.
  •  They make their stores incredibly interactive. The top floors of Ikea are usually  demonstration areas that look like a series of small apartments or homes.  Guests are encouraged to go in and out of each of these “homes” and see how Ikea products could really be used. For an active learner like me, this is heaven. I get to touch everything, sit on things, open cabinets, and try to get the non-slamming cabinets to slam (a personal favorite game of mine).
  • Think those tasty and very inexpensive meals at Ikea restaurants are so they can make their customers happy? Think again! By offering food options, Ikea ensures that you won’t leave, just because you get hungry. And, of course, the food gets you to sample their food products, which you can also purchase. In case you are curious, I recommend the meatballs.
  • They also watch your kids for you for free while you shop! As a retailer, they know that happy children means parents can stay in the store longer and shop, which means increased sales for them. It’s not really a new concept. In fact, the grocery store I visited as a child gave each kid a cookie to keep them happy while their parents shopped. But offering free daycare for an hour is definitely a ramped-up effort.
  • In addition, they have small play areas strategically placed in areas that parents may need to spend a good portion of time in. For example, in the store I visit, there is a small play area next to the cabinet design portion of the store so the children can play while their parents design their new cabinets.

Now, Ikea is at it again with a new twist, Manland. When I would go to Ikea as a child, we would make it to the chair department and there my father would take a seat in his favorite chair and relax with a book until we were done shopping (or needed him to pay for lunch!). Now, it seems, Ikea has a better idea for my father. Now he can go to a space specifically designed with him in mind including TVs, snacks, games, etc.  Or, at least, he could on Father’s Day in Australia. Permanent or not, it seems Ikea is at it again, finding new ways to keep customers in their store and spending money.

Special thanks goes to my friend Nate Block for knowing my obsession with Ikea and forwarding me the information on Manland.

The wedding registry is evolving

As more and more of my friends get married, I’ve been thinking about the concept of wedding registries and I’ve come to the conclusion that the traditional wedding registry is going to have to evolve.

It’s no secret that the average age of women and men getting married in the United States is increasing. As of 2003, according to Bride’s Magazine, the average age of an American woman getting married was 27 and for men, it was 29.

Now think about the intent behind the bridal registry, wedding gifts, and bridal shower gifts. Most gifts given at the weddings/showers I’ve attend have consisted of things that the new bride and groom need to start their home. In my experience, it’s particularly a lot of small appliances, linens, and kitchen supplies.

Ah, but therein lies the issue. If people are getting married older, they are more likely to have their own established residence or their own home. So now, instead of having to start a new home from scratch together, most newly weds are faced with trying to combine two households.

A photo of a wedding gift
Photo by sorakiei on Flickr

The Combining Household Game

One of my friends described the house-combining process to me when she was going through it. She spent days holding similar items up to her husband so the two of them could decide which to keep and which to toss. “We had seven spatulas, so I held all seven up and said we could keep three. We picked the best three and put the rest in the charity pile. Then I picked up the five colanders we had and we agreed that we probably only needed two, so we picked those two,” she said. It was daunting to even hear about. And, needless to say, their registry was pretty small and consisted of mostly decorative items.

Evolving in Various Ways

So, the product of the wedding registry, in a time when more people are combining than starting households, is becoming less relevant. So what can brides to be and businesses do? I’ve seen multiple alternatives so far:

  • Couples are only putting items on their registry that would be upgrades to what they already have. Sure, they might have a $20 iron, but they would really like the $120 iron.
  • To find enough to create a legitimate registry, some couples are turning to websites that offer combined registries where couples can register for items from multiple online stores in one convenient website.
  • One couple I know used a vacation registry where their loved ones and friends could fund part of their honeymoon costs. For example, I could have paid for them to have breakfast in bed one morning or for them to go scuba-diving.
  • Some couples are thinking of others during their special day by asking guests to donate to charity instead of giving gifts.
  • Finally, some couples are using alternative gift registries to ask for unusual, but helpful items such as people’s favorite recipes, help fixing something at their house, advice on decorating, etc.

Two Perspectives, Same Outcome

From the bride and groom’s perspective, they now have more choices and can get what they really need. From the traditional retailer’s perspective, only the first is profitable to them, so if they don’t find a creative way to evolve the registry that benefits them, they could start losing a lot of business.  Either way, though, it’s quite clear that the traditional wedding registry is evolving.

Storify, a review

This week I tried the new online platform, Storify, to write an article about a severe storm in Battle Creek, Michigan. Storify, for those of you who have not played around with it, is a new platform that allows you to incorporate various web and social media elements, such as Twitter posts, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, Facebook posts, etc. into a story and publish it online.

Positives and benefits

Storify is a unique and easy way to include various elements found online into a story. By clicking on the appropriate icon on the left, you can easily search YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, etc. for various elements to include in your story. Say, for example, you wanted to write a story about the protests that happened in Egypt. Using this tool, you could easily search all of various outlets and find what you need much quicker that you would be able to by going to the individual sites. This is a journalists dream because it significantly lessens the amount of time they need to gather information.

Storify also makes it easy to incorporate these elements into your story. In the past, you had to screenshot items you wanted and then insert them into your post/story, etc. Now, with the simple drag and drop feature, you can include posts, videos, and other elements with minimal effort.

The new web platform also lets you continually update your story as things change and new information becomes available. Again, this is very important to journalists who are continually updating their stories as new information comes in. Storify makes this process easy and quick.

Probably one of my favorite features of Storify is the feedback mechanism. You can send a message to the owner of the content you incorporated letting them know that you used their elements in a story. This adds a positive element to the stories posted because the owners of the original content can take pride in their content being used for a story. That then could encourage those people to share it with their friends and family, which could significantly increase the story’s readership. Also, the notification encourages a feedback loop by letting people know that you used something of theirs. This is a common courtesy, even if items are in the public domain.

Areas for Improvement

Despite all of its positives, there are a few things that could be improved about Storify.

First, Storify did not work correctly with the latest version of Internet Explorer 9. The icon to be able to begin writing a story did not appear. It did, however, appear when I used Mozilla Firefox. I sent Storify a message alerting them to this issue.

A screenshot of Storify from Internet Explorer 9 with the button missing
A screenshot of Storify from Internet Explorer 9. There was no way to begin a new story.
A screenshot of Storify using the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox.
A screenshot of Storify using the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox. The link is there in the center so that the user can begin writing a story.

The platform is also only as good as the individual search engines for each site and the information on those sites. For example, I was searching for information on a storm that hit Battle Creek, Michigan. For Twitter, I was able to search for references to a “storm” or “trees down” within a certain mile radius of the area. This made it pretty easy to find information. However, because Twitter isn’t very popular in Battle Creek yet, information was minimal and most did not include the hashtag #battlecreekstorm. For larger stories in areas where Twitter is popular, I think this would be eliminated by more people using the site and using hashtags. For Facebook, it was much more difficult to find what I was looking for because Facebook does not allow you to search by radius or other elements that may narrow the results to what you are looking for.

The linear model of Storify was somewhat frustrating for me. I’m the type of person who likes to gather all of the information I want, and then spread it out in a way that I can look at it all and then make decisions of how to put it together (you can imagine what my living room floor looks like when I scrapbook!). With Storify, I snatched everything I might want for my story and put it in so I didn’t lose any of it if the content wasn’t there when I went looking again. But by doing this, it became a really tedious process to continually scroll down and up to see what I had and put it in the order I wanted it in. I would recommend some sort of “holding pen” for elements that is separate from the story.

Bottom line

Overall, I really like the concept of Storify and like the way the platform works. I think it will be a great tool for journalists and people looking for various elements to include in an online story.


This story was originally published on my MSU Journalism class blog, Fit To Type.