Closure Marketing

givegetFRESH IDEA:  The following post is going to seem tremendously obvious.  Almost “Well, duh?!” in nature.  Yet, very few, if any, marketers take this makes-complete-sense step in their programs.  It’s called closure.  And truth be told, it’s actually a good reason to recontact a customer.  In other words, a soft re-marketing of sorts.  Here’s who’s done it and inspired this post:  the Gap family of brands and their Give & Get program.

Late this summer, as an Old Navy credit card holder and Gap brands opt-in, I participated in the Give & Get program.  Choose a charity, and not only do you get savings on your purchases, but funds are then donated to your charity of choice.  That was weeks ago.  There’s candy corn and a Halloween costume already in my household, for the love of autumn.  It would have been very, very easy to move on to the next program or offer — which they have, sure.  And never mentioned the program again ’til it’s next installment.  But alas!  Bravo Gap brands!  They just sent an email stating:  (subject line) “Thanks for making a $1.5 million difference!”  and (banner headline) “Giving feels good, doesn’t it?” (logo, logo, logo). So they circled back to me, and tossed me a warm, fuzzy email to give specifics on how much money was raised for the different charities.  Makes it feel real, makes it feel good, and all wrapped in Gap branding.  Particular in an environment where consumers want to do good, and expect brands to facilitate.  Nice equity building, too, for Gap in their Give & Get program as it’s own property.

Again, not rocket science.  Seemingly obvious.  But truthfully, a step marketers just don’t think about taking post-sales and post program.  You could easily do this for a cause program, yes.  But also for a contest, or a sweeps — e.g., show the real winners.  Now take your index finger and connect it to your thumb on the same hand.  Full circle closure!  Love it!  TASTY TREND:  Feeling good about doing good

Brain Power

MK-AY472_NETFLI_G_20090921163059CRUNCHY NUGGETS:  I’ve worked on promotions a long, long, LONG time.  And if you were to tell me that you were thinking of running a contest that wouldn’t declare a winner in three years, I’d say you were crazy.  But alas!  A contest that has, indeed, been running for three years, has finally come to an end.  And a team of seven smart — and now $1 million richer — engineers, researchers, and scientists have won.

Netflix threw out a challenge:  help us improve our member recommendation system, and you can win $1mm.  There was a closely followed leader board to track the percentage improvements in the system based on entries.  More than 51,000 contestants from 186 countries were entrenched in the challenge.  The Wall Street Journal likened it to the Super Bowl!  And in the end, Team Bellkor — the seven smarty booties, who were working from separate locations — literally won by submitting their contest solution 10 minutes sooner than a contending team at the deadline in July. Wow!  The team was just rewarded with their check and met for the first time together this past Monday, 9/21.

Now…Other than inspiring mathletes and geeks everywhere, why oh why is this so darn crunchy?  Hey, thanks for asking!  It shows how well a program can work given the right incentive (a million bucks), the right audience (people who just love a challenge involving algorithms), and yes, the right amount of time (smart thinking needs time to simmer and not just a typical promotion window of a few weeks).  And, how a brand or a retailer can leverage the power of real people — real brains who are not so darn close to the brand — to help successfully improve products, systems, services.  It’s about embracing advocates, really listening to what they have to say, and then rewarding them for their support.  Crowd sourcing?  User generated content?  Sort of.  But in this case, not any ol’ consumer with a calculator, a little time, and an opinion could have won.  Which is what makes it so brilliant, in that it truly helped improve an existing system using real talent. And it garnered excitement and worldwide attention, too — not bad for a contest.

Apparently, Netflix is going to conduct another contest to improve another aspect of their business model.  So don’t be sad — your chance to shine may be coming soon.  Or not, if you’re like me and math –yeah, not so much.  TASTY TREND:  Socially Acceptable;  Customer Care