Make Your Product an Advertisement for Your Business

When a product you ordered from Amazon is mailed to you, it’s mailed in an Amazon box. To anyone who has ever seen an Amazon box before, you know right away that it’s an Amazon box.

When Zipcar members check out a Zipcar for the day, the car is branded. It has the Zipcar logo plastered right on the side of it.

Fashion brands from Old Navy to Michael Kors prominently display their logo on nearly everything they design.

All of these are examples of a company using its products to market themselves.

Someone in my office gets the Amazon box delivered, and I see it. Someone drives past me on the street in a Zipcar, and I see it. Someone sitting across from me on the train has a Michael Kors bag, and I see it.

It may not feel like marketing or advertising, but I am being exposed to the brand. It’s just another reason why product design is so important, and why marketers should absolutely involve themselves in product development.

How can you turn your company’s products into ads for your business?

Marketing to your Customers: Recurring Sales

This is the second of a three part series entitled “Marketing to your Customers”. The theory here is a very basic one, selling to existing customers is far easier, and cheaper, than finding new ones. So in order to be successful, it’s vital that you master the basic skills of marketing to existing customers. And those skills are different in many ways than the ones required to market to non-customers.

Part one of the series gave us tips on how to use upsell opportunities to make more money.

When a GM owner trades in their old car for a new model, is this a new sale? Is it an upsell or a cross-sell if they buy a different, or more expensive model? For the sake of arguments, let’s assume that any future sale by your company to an existing or past customer is a recurring sale. And this post is all about making more of them.

First, let’s look at a number of different recurring sales examples. The GM example above, a shopper returning to the same supermarket every week, a book lover who only buys from, anyone who is brand conscious about anything for that matter.

The most important thing to understand is why your customers buy from you, or buy at all. Are you the easiest option (location of the supermarket), the cheapest option, the most well-known? Advertising might bring them in the store once, but what keeps them coming back? Great service, great prices, great product?

Whatever it is, the power to increase those return customers lies with you and your marketing team. First, don’t ignore existing customers. And don’t miss the chance to capture their attention when they first purchase. An email, phone number, or postal address allows you to stay in touch with them. A newsletter list or community page gives them somewhere to connect with your brand.

Once you have their attention, use it. Loyalty programs designed to keep long term customers offer special discounts or value added features just for existing customers. How can you offer people more value if they choose you more often?

This group should also be the first to hear about news and press about your company, new products or special offers, and events they might interested in.

This group of people has said to you, “You’ve proven yourself to me in so far as I will give you money for what you’re offering.” Don’t squander their faith in you. Love them for it. And let them know you love them for it. And you’ll get more of them back in for a second, third, and fourth time.

Tomorrow we’ll look into a third way to market to your existing customers in order to increase their value.

Knowledge is Power: Amazon Email Review #2

As a consumer, we know that knowledge is power. Knowledge of what’s being offered, of pricing, recommendations from friends, it’s all changing the way people shop and spend money.

As marketers, we also know that knowledge is power. Knowledge about our consumers, data!

Here is a recent email I got from Amazon that allows me to prove a point:

I happen to be in the market for an exercise bike. How did Amazon know this? Because I went on their site and searched for one.

Amazon, just like many other intelligent (well-funded) companies with a strong online presence, is tracking user behavior. And they’ve set up an automatic email response that goes out to people who look for something on the site but don’t end up buying. It’s brilliant.

The stats will show you that the best people to email are the people who have just been on your site. Email them while your brand is fresh in their mind, and if you can make them an offer, even better. And while the content of this email is not as good as others I’ve seen (even from Amazon), the concept is perfect.

How can you apply this concept to your business?

Always Be Dealing: Amazon Email Review

In the world of email marketing, I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep consumers interested. With every email you send out, you should be asking yourself: why would they open this, why would they read this, why would they click through on this, and why would they not unsubscribe.

This most recent marketing email that I got from Amazon gave me the perfect opportunity to discuss the theory that I call, Always Be Dealing.

The subject line, Zachary T. Heller: Pre-Black Friday Deals, lets me know right away why I should open the email. Inside, there will presumably be deals that I could not get elsewhere. Though I’d rather not use personalization in the subject line, I’m okay with it from Amazon because they are so well known.

When I opened it, I had to display images before I saw anything that made sense, a strike against Amazon. Though they did have text to reinforce the deal, I had to scroll down to see it before accepting the images. But once I did accept them, it all came together.

A clear headline, calling out the fact that these are special offers, repeated use of the word “deal”, and a call to action marked by a “learn more” button are all signs of a strong email. I don’t have to scroll down to see that they are going to list some of the deals right here in the email. And while the image above is cut off, I can tell you that there were about 20 different product offerings within the body of the email.

So, they gave me a reason to open, a reason to read, and a reason to click-through, all without any trickery or “spammy” language. Theoretically, without this email I could not receive these offers (though that is not necessarily true). And why would I unsubscribe from a list which sends me “exclusive” deals, deals that are new each time I see them?

Grade: A- (points off for personalization in the subject line and heavy graphics)