Post #5: Jcpenney Hits the TARGET with their Marketing Makeover

After 110 years it was time for a makeover! Jcpenney, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. retail market, recently reinvented themselves. Strangely, one of the captains at the helm of their reinvention was the former Chief Marketing Officer at Target, Michael Francis.

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While we were asked to comment about the creative strategies at Target, I thought it fitting to comment on the Target’ess like makeover underway at Jcpenney. Especially given how exciting and cutting edge the concepts are, coming out of JCP.

After a quick glimpse at the JCP catalog that hit millions of American homes in late February, it’s clear this re-launch is a game changer. Their new creative strategy, screams IKEA, Target and maybe even a slight hint of  J.Crew. It’s bright, simple and clever. The clean, brilliant images are interwoven with smart, story telling copy. This new refreshing creative approach was even carried through, in the introduction of Ellen DeGeneres, as their new spokesperson.

Even the company name has been simplified, now simply stated as JCP. This overhaul is being marketed as “In Praise of Fresh Air”, in order to clarify that despite their 110 year age; it doesn’t mean they’ve grown stale. This sense of fresh air was described in the “Jcpenney Manifesto” that was published as part of their recent launch.

 

This sense of fresh air has come to life within the pages of their March catalog, direct mail pieces and in their new online ads. An orange themed portion of their assortment is marketed with clever tag lines, such as “orange you forgetting something” or “speaking mandarin”. The new spring fashion trend of color blocked combos, in new JCP creative speak, is nicknamed “Block Party”.

The JCP revamp did not only touch the creative side of their operations, but also drove a major facelift to their in-store experiences and pricing strategies. The previous borage of coupons, frequent sale events, and various promotional mailers have been sent to their corporate archives as a thing of the JCP past. Now the pricing and sales strategy is simple and tagged as “fair and square”. There are three and only three, types of prices in their new repertoire. The three-tiered pricing structure is labeled in red, white and blue and categorized as every day, monthly value and best price.

With the fresh breeze blowing at JCP, I wonder if any stale air has settled in at the marketing office at Target. Will Target be able to replace the creative genius vacancy, left behind by Michael Francis? Or have the creative winds shifted permanently to JCP?

Misc. Post: Not just any noodle!

I found this image and thought it was not only relevant to the title of this blog, but also relates to a key strategy in marketing. ~To take something conventional and find an unconventional way to market it, via a unique image or a unique message. To be a successful marketer you must find a breakthrough strategy that differeniates your brand and your message.

Post #4: Who won Superbowl XLVI?

…When it comes to the ads that is. Sunday’s famous game has become more infamous for the game that’s played off the field, by players in suits, not jerseys. With that, there seems to be just as much armchair quarterbacking related to the plays being called by Madison Avenue than the ones where a ball was thrown. –So what were the armchairs of America saying about this year’s “game”? 

Based on the New York Times article there wasn’t a clear winner. For ads that were the most liked in one poll, they were the most disliked in another. The article also highlighted how the social space has changed the face of Sunday’s big ad game. Most of the ads made their way to the web, long before kick off happened. 

While there may have not been one clear MVP this year, here are some of the top playmakers that have been called out; M&M’s, Skechers, Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt and Honda. There were also some ads that should have perhaps stayed on the bench; Lexus, Century 21, General Electric, Cars.com, Toyota, Cadillac, Hulu and Go Daddy.

Besides being sick of my football analogies, what’s your vote?

Post #3: The Value of Ratings and Reviews; A Thing of the Past?

Over the last several years, obtaining ratings and reviews has become a key element of marketing a brand or a product. Ratings and review information can now be found everywhere; on a company’s own website, manufacturer websites and websites that syndicate reviews for a wide range of companies and products. Consumers utilize the information as key step in the research and buying process. As a result, companies have come to realize the importance of obtaining ratings and reviews, especially positive ones.  

Until recently this source of information seemed fairly trustworthy to consumers. Unfortunately, several recent news stories regarding an Amazon merchant, VIP Deals, may threaten this. VIP Deals established a program to solicit top ratings from customers, using financial incentives (VIP Deals Astroturfing Amazon 5 Star). The company essentially rebated a large portion of a product’s purchase price in exchange for a customer’s five-star rating of the item.

Does this signal a turning point for the role of ratings and reviews in marketing, and in the research process for consumers? Will consumers continue trust the ratings and reviews from other consumers? Can companies continue to use marketing programs to solicit ratings and reviews without risking negative misperceptions about their practices?  

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Misc. Post: Just Dazzled by ShoeDazzle.com

Emma, my seven-year old daughter, just told me about this cool website shoedazzle.com. She had seen a TV commercial and lead me to their website. She even knew the secret pink shoe to click on for a special offer.

Their approach is fascinating. They have you take a shoe personality test of sorts. 24 hours after you submit the questionnaire, they have a personalized shoe boutique created for you.

They welcomed me, by sending an e-mail that included a 20% coupon for my first purchase from my personalized shoe showroom. I haven’t seen what they’ve created for me yet, but I’m definitely intrigued to see how well they match products from their assortment with my style and preferences.

MyHabit.com uses a similar approach, but ShoeDazzle seems much more tailored. I’ll let you know what I think, after I see the items they put in my showroom.

Post #2: Marketing Copy Cat: A To Do or Taboo?

Recently in working with a small business, it was clear that some business owners don’t have the time, money or expertise to build out and execute a robust marketing plan. Given all the contemporary marketing tools, it becomes even more overwhelming for a small business owner to know where to start. This got me wondering about the value of using a copy cat strategy.

The strategy would involve following the marketing of key competitors in order to try and understand their marketing plan, and then figuring out which elements to copy. Especially, if the competitor can afford to partner with a external marketing agency, then it’s likely the types of marketing they’re doing are the ones that have proven to be most effective. This strategy would not only help a company define their own strategy, but would give them insight into what they need to do to be competitive.

Of course the company would need to develop their own unique marketing messages, but at least they would know where to focus their energy and how to position their message against their competitors.

So what’s the verdict?

Do? Or Taboo?

Post #1: Marketing Research for Free!

Yes, there is a way to find out what and when customers are interested in something, minus the investment of research.

Based on The New Rules of Marketing, by author David Scott, the key to modern day marketing is being able to engage customers and potential customers in a variety of ways, such as social media, blogs, new releases and online video. However, the key to being successful in these spaces requires that a company first knows what is most relevant to their target market. Before investing in a robust marketing plan, companies must first know what their customers care about and what will provide the most return on investment. This is typically the role of marketing research. Over the last few years, a new source for this information has emerged that allows companies to answer these questions, without having to make a major investment in research. It is the information that is found by reviewing the search logs of a company’s website. …It’s information that’s at a company’s fingertips.

When a customer comes to a website and conducts a search, they’re telling the company what they want, in their words. This provides an unfiltered view into customers’ needs and wants. Search data is a gold mine of information that can be used to drive product, assortment and promotional planning, as well as providing many other insights about customers.  For example, the data could tell a company when customers start looking for snow boots or swimming pools. The data may also reveal that the customer is looking for something that the company doesn’t sell. It also can highlight a major customer service or product issue.

In addition to providing insight to what customers want and when they want it, the data can also suggest the level of demand for an item or topic of information. As a result the information can be used to help a company decide what to focus marketing efforts on or what issues need more immediate attention.  

Similar information can be found through data offered for free by Google. However, the Google data will tell you what customers are looking for in the broader context of the internet. The search data from a company’s website is much more relevant and specific, because it reflects the things that customers are coming to their website looking for.

What’s more exciting is that it’s a source of information available to any company that has a website or mobile app with a search feature. So even a small business can gain powerful insights about what their customers are looking for. It’s marketing research for the masses!

And did I mention it’s all free!