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Last Chance for the Holidays

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I feel weird even writing this, but August 19th is nearly too late for Christmas. In a marketing sense I mean. 

It’s tough to imagine, but while you’re still applying sunscreen before you go out, brands have pretty much completed their Christmas marketing plans. 

No rest for the wicked

No rest for the wicked

Here at Launchfire we do tons of Christmas promotions every year. After a decade and a half of experience, there are some holiday lessons we’ve learned. Here are some last-minute tricks for planning a Christmas promotion. 

Be digital, mobile, and simple

Christmas shoppers increasingly turn to the interwebz for their shopping instead of brick and mortar establishments. Whether it’s to avoid the crowds or because they don’t like hearing Jingle Bells playing in November is unclear. What this means for marketers is that focusing all your promotional spending on driving store traffic is increasingly passé. Running any sort of major marketing program without a digital component knocks off a huge chunk of your market. In addition to the steady trend towards e-shopping, consumers are also increasingly spending from their mobile devices, so you’ve got to make sure your content is mobile accessible. 

The only roadblock to shopping online is when sites are difficult to use or not optimized for mobile. If you make sure your marketing content is digital, mobile and simple then there’s no stopping you from getting the most out of the holidays. 

Be unique

People are hit with so many advertisements each day that it would make 70s sci-fi writers blush. At Christmas this is magnified even further. You’re not going to get people’s attention with the same old copy and tactics. So how do you stand out? In our experience, gamification is the key. 

While it’s a heck of a popular buzzword, most marketing folks are still behind the curve. That means gamification is a great way to cut through the clutter and keep ahead of the pack. Making your promotion a fun and addictive game grabs consumer’s attention and drives a lot more engagement than a passive TV spot or web banner. I’ve pattered on and on about gamification, so I won’t bore our regular readers (love you guys!), instead I’ll just direct you to our webinar

Be early

Remember at the top of this post when I said it’s almost too late? I wasn’t kidding! An increasing number of American shoppers are DONE their Christmas shopping by mid-November. Yikes! Makes me feel extra bad for buying my mom’s gift on the way to Christmas Eve Dinner. 

I've learned there are no Christmas Eve sales on kitchenware

I've learned there are no Christmas Eve sales on kitchenware

This also means that the most successful Christmas promotions start as early as November 1st. 

Looking for last minute Christmas help? Give our Christmas strategist AJ Pratt a call at 613-728-8915. He loves Christmas more than Tiny Tim. 

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Links we Love: August 8 - 14

Published on by Romeo Maione.

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Why Beacons Could Change Shopper Marketing

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Well it sure seems like everybody is talking about beacons. Will they save the app? Will they change digital marketing? Should every marketer worth their salt get their hands on them?

The answer to those questions is a loud and resounding “probably”.

Before we get ahead of ourselves though, what the heck *are* beacons? 

This is the popular "bat" variant

This is the popular "bat" variant

In layman’s terms (my favorite terms), beacons are small devices that trigger actions in mobile devices. Think of them like lighthouses for smartphones and tablets. 

Sound useful? We think so too. Just think of the possibilities! 

You’re able to send shoppers personalized deals right to their phone at the moment when they walk through certain parts of your shop. Incredibly, an app doesn’t even need to be open as beacons can “wake up” apps and send push notifications. Beacon technology could transform retailer apps from glorified store locators into valuable shopping tools!

Beacons can send promotions, deals, instant coupons, information about products; there are almost limitless possibilities with what you can convey! 

If you’re a restaurateur you can send daily specials to people walking by. Or offer discounted appetizers to people in your dining room. 

If you’re a retailer you can send personalized coupons to shoppers when they’re in a target area of your department store. 

If you’re a grocery marketer you can send recipes that give shoppers ideas and drive sales of multiple product lines.

Even airports are getting in on the fun!

Basically what I’m saying is that beacons are a big deal. They aren’t perfect for every business but you should probably invest a buck or two if you’re a major department store or QSR chain! 

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Links we Love: July 25 - August 7

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I dove into the wonderful world of beacon technology this week. Mostly because I ran out of sci-fi to read on my lunches. 

Check out these awesome links on beacons and how they can be used to improve your marketing. 

First off is a post that gives you the basics on what they are and what they do. Consider that Beacons 101. 

QSR Insights posted a really useful article on how beacons can be used in the restaurant industry to drum up new business and attract loyalty at the same time.

From a retail perspective, CNBC looked into the future to show what shopping would be like if retailers all adopted beacon technology. Pretty cool stuff! 

Not sold on beacons yet? Tech Crunch released a study that shows the use of beacons in retail stores caused a 19X increase in interaction with advertised products. Whoa. 

There are too many cool things you can do with beacons to ignore them. Embrace the future! 

Does my Roomba count as a robot maid? 

Does my Roomba count as a robot maid? 

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Links we Love: July 18 - 24

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we couldn’t stop thinking about the end of summer this week. Particularly the shopping frenzy that grips the US of A on Black Friday (and increasingly Cyber Monday too!) 

Check out these links on Black Fridays past and future! 

In case you ever doubted how seriously power-shoppers take Black Friday deals, there are hundreds of blog posts like this one discussing shopping strategies for the November event. Sometimes consumers are ahead of marketers! 

Take a flashback to last year’s Black Friday with this awesome infographic that details all the stats you need about 2013’s event. Particularly interesting is that 30% of consumers decided to forego the (sometimes scary) crowds and do all of their shopping online. 

Amazon.com has never looked better

Amazon.com has never looked better

Finally this article’s got a link to a guide for the upcoming year and some interesting predictions of consumer behavior. 

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Restaurant Marketing: Bottomless Appetizers a Bad Idea?

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I love mozzarella sticks. If a big gooey plate of mozzarella sticks is within reach of my chubby paws, there’s no stopping me. So when I heard TGI Fridays was offering bottomless appetizers for only $10, my heart skipped a beat. 

I should actually get that irregular heartbeat checked out

I should actually get that irregular heartbeat checked out

But while my stomach sang, my business brain couldn’t help but think this felt like a misstep. It reminded me of Red Lobster’s 2003 crab legs fiasco. The Coles Notes version is that Red Lobster offered unlimited crab legs for $20 and lost a bunch of money. So every time I see promotions like this, I wonder if there isn’t a better way?

I get that full service casual restaurants are in a tough spot. Fast-casual restaurants and their ever increasing quality are cannibalizing the full service casual market. Restaurants like Chipotle and Panera have to pay fewer employees and can snag faster customer turnover than Applebee’s or Kelsey’s. They also pay less for a smaller place and can offer high quality ingredients at lower prices. 

While those advantages are clear, all hope isn’t lost for full service restaurants. People will always want a place to take their family where they’ll have a server, can get a beer and relax with their loved ones. So how do full service casual restaurants take back some of that market share? I feel like offering a risky and potentially ruinous promotion like “bottomless appetizers” should probably be pretty far down the list. 

Instead, I feel like this is a great opportunity for full service restaurants to invest in digital and create buzz without giving away the farm. 

Pictured: The Farm

Pictured: The Farm

The goal of “Bottomless Appetizers” is likely twofold; to get people talking and hope they order drinks while gorging on buffalo wing after buffalo wing.

Just for kicks, here’s what we’d do to accomplish those goals without sacrificing all those sales to hungry 20-somethings like me!

Like we’ve done for our full service clients in the past, we’d build a digital promotion that  would encourage users to connect with the TGI Fridays brand in exchange for more chances to win a prize. Instead of giving away tens of thousands of free plates of mozza sticks, we’d give away a couple big prizes and tantalize users with a chance to win them. That would significantly reduce risk while maximizing engagement. 

A big prize gets tons of attention on social media, and because it’s all digital you can easily track and analyze every click to see where the traffic is coming from. Unlimited spinach dip can’t really do that, can it? 

Digital promos also help build email lists and get Facebook Likes and Twitter follows so that the promotion isn’t the end of your connection to users. You can even educate consumers on the breadth of your menu and new high-value items you’re trying to promote. 

Bottomless Apps will get some attention (TGI Fridays’ already have) but a digital promotion does a lot more for a lot less moolah. 

If you want to know more about the work we’ve done for full-service casual restaurant chains, drop our restaurant expert a line at swilson@launchfire.com

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Links we Love: July 11 - 17

Published on by Romeo Maione.

We had some fun this week and talked about some of the biggest promotional gaffes in history. It’s always good to take a look at things that didn’t work so you can figure out where they went wrong. Here’s our shortlist! 

In 2012 Mountain Dew tried to crowdsource the naming of their new drink in a promotion called “Dub the Dew”. Unfortunately a lack of real-time moderation led to the top 15 suggestions being....let’s just say unprintable. Check out this link if you want to know what they were. 

All the way back in 1986, the United Way dropped 1.5 million balloons on the city of Cleveland as part of a fundraising promotion. It looked amazing! And shut down a runway, created hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, made sea rescue missions impossible and spooked a couple of prize horses. Oops! 

Not pictured: Tragedy

Not pictured: Tragedy

I swear I don’t hold a grudge against Cleveland, but this next one also happened in The Forest City. In 1974, Cleveland Stadium offered 10 cent beers for patrons of the Indians v. Rangers game. In today’s dollars that’s still only 50 cents. As you can imagine...it got a little messy

Finally the UK’s Walker Potato Chips held a contest in 2010 where people could get a free bag of chips for guessing if it would rain that day. Too bad it was held during a week with a 100% chance of precipitation. The site went down after they owed more than 2 million dollars worth of product to weather prognosticators. 

Lessons learned? Don’t leave anything to chance and never give away alcohol.

Have a great weekend! 

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