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Real-time Marketing: Don’t complain about the weather, put it to work

February 4th, 2011 3 comments
MarketingSherpa Snowmageddon 2011

The B.Good snowman

My blog post this week has truly been an exercise in real-time reporting. “Plan A” was to cover some of the Super Bowl marketing activities going on in Dallas this week, but then “Snowmageddon 2011″ hit late Monday night, left me iced into my driveway and knocked the media and marketing universe surrounding the Super Bowl into a brand new level of frenzy/panic/excitement — something like “frenzanicment.”

When the uniqueness of Super Bowl week marketing gets kicked up even higher with a freak weather event, the result — however interesting it might be — just isn’t going to apply to many other real-world marketing situations.

Plan B

But when that freak weather event is affecting a huge swath of the rest of the United States, and local marketers are jumping in with real-time campaigns and CRM activities such as sending messages about new store and office hours in reaction to the event, that’s something any marketer can relate to and maybe gain some insight from to use for future real-time marketing opportunities.

With that in mind, this post is “plan B” — some crowdsourced, real-time reporting on various marketing efforts taken in response to Snowmageddon.

Getting customers to your bricks and mortar location in a blizzard

  • Leyla Arsan of Lotus Marketing Services offered this interesting restaurant promotion: One of my clients, a 20,000-square-foot  restaurant in Chicago, offered a blizzard promotion. For each inch of snowfall, they offered guests that percentage off their check. For example, 20 inches = 20% off your total bill. On Wednesday night, they had over 100 guests with only a few hours to promote the special. They used email marketing, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to promote the special.
  • Style Masters Salon & Spa located in the greater Philadelphia area distributed emails offering 20% service discounts for same-day bookings during snow storms January 26-27. The January 26 promotion filled the appointment book within 25 minutes, while the offer on January 27 took the salon from a 20% booking rate to 52% in 45 minutes. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of this last-minute email campaign,” said Christina Vagnozzi, owner of Style Masters Salon & Spa. “Our clients are anxiously awaiting this next storm to see what we come up with.”
  • The Boston-based B.Good restaurant chain posted a humorous photo to their Facebook page featuring a giant snowman built at one of the locations while staff awaited customers. The photo was posted on a day when the area received more than a foot of snow. “The photo generated great buzz with ‘Likes’ on our Facebook page, and encouraged walk-ins when we ordinarily would have seen few, if any,” said Jon Olinto, Co-founder B.Good.

Use videos to tell your brand’s story

Stacey Hylen of BusinessOptimizerCoach.com sent this idea: I shot some videos outside in the blizzard with some tips to help small business owners learn how to profit from Snowmageddon and what they need to do in their business to prepare it for another one (things they can do to become more of a global business so local events won’t hurt their business as much.)

I am going to promote the heck out of the videos and also offer a Snowmageddon special through my newsletter and through social media sites.

Real-time email marketing — be proactive

Rick Delashmit of FruitMyCube.com in Belleville, Illinois: We had to delay some of our scheduled FruitMyCube deliveries this week due to the weather. We notified several hundred customers of the order delay/cancellation with this email.

Then today (Wednesday), as we opened up ordering for next week, we announced that we would be including one of our hand-dipped Chocolate Covered Strawberries in each Cube as a thank you for their patience through the “Snowpocalypse”. Then come Valentine’s week, we’ll tie all this together by allowing our customers to add a Gift Box of the berries to their FruitMyCube order. Here’s the email that announced the free chocolate covered strawberry.

Cold calling in freezing weather

Jenny Vance, President LeadJen: As an outsourced Lead generation company, LeadJen is conscious about using client billable time when we will see the highest connections and also highest conversions. Typically, those two things have a 1:1 relationship. If you have more connections/conversations, you have more conversions.

However, we have found that a winter event is much like the holidays because while the ability to connect is greatly reduced, the quality of the connections is much higher. This is because we have an easy way to personalize the message and a universal conversation topic—weather!

The people that are in the office are also not as inundated with requests and interruptions, so the cold call is less of a bother. In order to maximize the conversation topic, we include reference to weather in our voicemails, live dialogues and also email content.

We’ve found that it greatly improves our inbound response to those messages. At the end of the day, we estimate that instead of a 1:1 relationship between connections to conversions, we see a 1:2 relationship. It so critical that during winter emergencies that have the potential to cripple results, LeadJen has been able to stabilize and sometimes improve project performance.

Real-time marketing is nimble marketing

“The great news about today’s marketing tools is that they allow marketers to be really nimble and react to circumstances, like the recent spate of snowstorms, in real time,” said Eric Groves, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Corporate Development and Innovation Constant Contact. “Simply using the ‘excuse’ of the snow as a reason to reach out and share a compelling promotion not only helps maintain sales during what might otherwise be a bit of a slump, but also strengthens relationships with customers by rewarding loyalty.”

All marketers know to tailor campaigns and offers to events like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, but the nimble marketer will also react to events such as weather or breaking news to take advantage of publicity and promotional opportunities. It doesn’t have to be a freak snowstorm rampaging across most of the country, although there’s a lot to work with, as seen above, to get into the world of real-time marketing. You just have to find the opportunity in the news, events, announcements — and yes, even weather — that happen every day.

Related resources

Constant Contact, used by Style Masters Salon & Spa, B.Good and FruitMyCube.com for their online marketing campaigns

Lotus Marketing Services

Real-Time Marketing: David Meerman Scott at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

Riding a real time Amazon announcement to reach an influential journalist

Email Marketing: Why should I help you?