Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Learning that product rules... still.

The news today that GAP will close its Fourth & Towne stores probably shouldn't come as a surprise to most in the retail world. GAP is really struggling with what it wants to be when it grows up. This is well documented with the shake-up at the top, having designers and CEO's leave, etc.

What is interesting about GAP however is that while they have struggled in their stores, their online sales continue to grow (or at least had... they've got numbers coming out any day now that could change that trend). They have a very well documented modern eCommerce infrastructure... and they've rolled out new brands like Piperlime to take advantage of that. Fourth & Towne on the other hand... was a ''brick first, online second" play by GAP. At the time it debuted back in August of 05... the thought was that their target market wanted goods multi-channel. Heck... I remember when it came out... I was saying "smart move" because of their approach for the market. So... what happened?

GAP's products... almost across the board (with the exception of Banana Republic) have been getting HAMMERED as ordinary... or just not exciting... by customers and analysts alike. Piperlime on the other hand is really selling other peoples' products... again a new step for GAP in a lot of ways. Only the Banana product seems to be catching the fancy of their target.

The lesson here is... the best infrastructure can't make up for inferior product. You have to have Trend-right product... in the retail industry... to succeed as a multi-channel retailer... a pure-play... or a brick only variety. It applies to almost all market segments... verticals, etc. Keep that in mind when you're working on that next big ecommerce effort. Don't expect your platform... your usability studies... or your Web 2.0 widgets to make up for bad product. They CAN contribute to the experience... but they can't make up for your BRAND Experience.

Love to hear from you. Comment on this.. or any post... or MEEBOME using the blank to the right when you see I'm online. Cheers!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sprucing up...

Well, I finally took the time to spruce up the template a bit today. Hope everyone finds this one a little easier to read. More to come soon. cheers!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

From the "not so targeted email marketing" department...

Okay.. I admit it; I'm a Mark Cuban JUNKIE. His blog (blogmaverick.com) absolutely cracks me up! Here's a guy who's net worth is a bazillion... yet he's not afraid to point out stupidity in the world... in a very public way. Whether it is the NBA... or Donald Trump in this case... he's got enough money and enough clout that I think sometimes you need to listen to him.

Case in point: Today's blog. Mark got an email today from Donald Trump. It seems that if Mark responds to this email, and for only $76... he can learn the tricks that have made the Donald famous.

Uhhh... I'm guessing they didn't scrub that email list too well. Granted they probably wasted about $.002 to send Mr. Cuban the email but a simple check on Forbes.com would probably have yielded suppressing Mr. Cuban's email address as someone who is "outside the target" for this email.

Lesson learned: You might want to make sure you know something about your customers before you send them email. If they get email from you and they don't trust you knowing them... once.... you'll be in the spam box. I wonder if Mark Cuban has reset his spam filters yet for Trump University.

Or... maybe someone's spamming from an address similar to Mr. Trump's University perhaps? I'm sure there's one of those super-smart-tent-dwelling Apprentices that might be able to solve the problem. Meanwhile... the "Trump" brand name takes another hit either way.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nordstrom Gets It. (DUH!)

Ever shopped at a Nordstrom? It is amazing. The customer experience is second to none. Their online experience has been good too, but they've been through the typical trials and tribulations of growing a direct e-business (first a stand alone company, then integrated, then... a hybrid) and they've also been like other major retailers and invested in "ecommerce systems" and processes as stand alone entities.

Well... now that they've got this significant direct business that continues to grow, they have taken the bold step to re-tool their core capabilities to become a truly multi-channel retailer. One inventory of products, accessible from anyone in their chain (store,phone, online). No "I can't get to that" or... "that's not in my system" any more. The story in the February Internet Retailer talks a bit about what they're doing but essentially, they've standardized on the Oracle Retailing Suite, are going to do away with redundant systems and inventories... and are going to integrate into their very DNA the notion that the Nordstrom brand is ONE BRAND; with seamless access to that brand from where ever their customer needs it.

They get it. They know that you can charge MORE for a positive customer experience. The way they used to do that is have MORE EMPLOYEES on the sales floor. Today's way of achieving that positive customer experience is simple: a superiorly integrated shopping experience.

Kudos to Jamie Nordstrom and the gang out in Seattle for having the guts to do it right.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Your Next Ad Campaign - YOUTUBE!

Little broader focus this morning... talking about Marketing/Advertising 2.0 kind of stuff.

All 3 of you that occasionally read this blog know that I'm a Big Fan of MEEBO. Not just as a tool, but as a way to start a company, and how they've managed their success to date. Also, how PUBLIC they've been about the whole thing. They just seem like a bright bunch of eggs over there... and I wish them continued success. (BTW: If you IM, and you're NOT using MEEBO, you don't know what you're missing!).

So.. when I logged on to MEEBO this am, I get the daily blog post from the MEEBO team. It seems that they decided (along with some other startups) that it might be time to do an ad for their fine company and products. However, instead of blowing all of their $$$ on the "lone superbowl ad" they've decided to shoot the ad themselves, and go around traditional "media buys" and put it on YOUTUBE themselves.

This got me thinking... sure, you'll have 120m households watching the Super Bowl worldwide this Sunday, but for $3m a minute... are you getting the best bang for your buck on that ad when you could just submit it to YOUTUBE for Free... AND get paid for your ad (if it generates revenue... YOUTUBE's going to pay you for ad revenue now)? Why would you hassle with the inexact science and guess work involved in a complicated national media buy... when you could shoot the commercial... and plop it on YOUTUBE?

You could of course spend millions on your own "platform" to circumvent the traditional media channels (See Bud.TV for that example) but... again... is that going to be the best bang for your buck right now?

Frankly... I don't think so.

At a minimum... I think if I had ANY broadcast ads running right now... I'd have them on YOUTUBE. Look at the economics of this... Your CPM for your AD on YOUTUBE is... well... completely variable but could be just the cost of the ad. You have the potential of putting your ad in front of 82m people a DAY! And, unlike most standard ads, you get these advantages:
  • completely user-driven consumption - no reliance on broadcast or cable/satellite scheduling to see your ad
  • much better analytics on the response
  • the buzz created by being out there
You could of course couple this with an email to your loyalty club... or even get a PR-Generated story in a local paper about "company takes new approach to advertising" to generate some more buzz. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

Check out YOUTUBE for some of your favorite brands today. See what the PULSE of the user-generated content wave is all about. My take is... smart marketers are already doing this but if you're not, you should get on the bandwagon.

Thoughts? Comment or MEEBOME!