Week 6: Promotional Marketing

For this week’s assignment we are required to find an article about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid advertising strategy or other traffic building strategies that a business could use to improve customer traffic to their online websites and micro sites.  We are then to consider how  the company we are following, which in my case is REI, can utilize these methods to promote their brand.  I chose an article by Regina Love called “Promotional Marketing: How to use promotional marketing to build brand awareness” on the Marketing Sherpa blog.   Love says that in order to have a successful promotion you have to take the time to plan it out properly.  The article lays out the steps needed to insure that your promotion will accomplish your goal.

Phase 1: Establish Your Objective:  What do you want your promotion to accomplish?  The answer to this will vary depending on the company.  Some companies may be looking to promote brand awareness or to build up community interaction.  Some may be wanting to simply unload excess inventory.  You have to know what your goal is if you are going to feel that your promotional marketing is a success.

Phase 2: Build Your Srategy –  In her article Love emphasizes the importance of using data from previous marketing campaigns to plan out your marketing strategy.  It helps to analyze what has been effective in the past as you build your strategy for your current campaign.  This is also the time to consider and establish the budget for the promotion.

“Research is the most important asset in your strategy, whether formal or informal. Using that available data on your current or past audience engagement is going to benefit your campaign heavily. Organizing your route to the end goal while showing the value is going to be challenging yet rewarding in the end.”

Phase 3: Execute Your Plan – Once you have your objective established and you have a strategy in place you can execute your plan by focusing on the content of your message.  Determining what you are wanting to communicate and then put yourself in their shoes to examine how you might be able to expect them to respond.  Work to ensuring that the content causes the customer to respond to you in some way and hopefully converts the interaction to a purchase.  She also recommends colaborating with colleagues to insure that your content stays true to the company brand.

“Think about, what you want to say to your customers and how you want them to interpret your content. At the end of the marketing asset, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. How likely are you to be motivated to take action by clicking on the CTA or sharing the information?”

How does REI use these methods in their promotional marketing? The assignment is that we are supposed to make suggestions of how the company we are following could use these suggestions.  Instead, I wanted to highlight how the company is ALREADY following them.

Establishing their objective: – REI’s objective as a company is evident in their vision statement:   “At REI, we inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”  Any promotional marketing campaign that REI executes consistently stays centered around this vision.  Do they want to make sales?  SURE they do, but they are less focused on the sale and more focused on the INSPIRATION.  Inspire and educate the customer and they will view you as the expert.  They will naturally reciprocate by purchasing your product.   Their objective to inspire and educate naturally leads to the objective of “equipping” their customer.

Planning their strategy –   REI sells top name product brands like North Face and Patagonia, but they also have their own line of gear that is essentially a competition to those top name brands.  In this article entitled “What REI’s Marketing Strategy Says about the ‘Sale’ in Storytelling,” Braden Becker ephasizes how REI’s strategy of “forgetting the product” is an tremendously effective strategy.   He says that they honor the loyalty of their customer to a specific brand and instead of pushing their own brand in it’s place, they partner with the customer on the passions that drive them.

“Instead, it’s the expert no matter what the item; the companion no matter what the activity, and the storyteller no matter who was there. People want what they want, which is why the one thing they want more than a counteroffer is to see their loyalties understood: Mountain biking? Enough about the bikes; here’s how to take sharp photos of each rider. Fan of Patagonia? So are we. Listen to its climbing story from South America. Not sure where you’re going? That’s cool, too—just don’t forget the s’mores.”

Executing their plan –  REIs current promotion centers around camping and hiking and they have done exactly as as suggested by Brandon Becker: they tell a story and they don’t focus on the sale.  They use photos of campsites in amazing settings and hikers surrounded by huge trees, all with the best equipment.  It makes the campsites seem homey and comfortable and subtly suggests that the gear it contains is what makes the trip comfortable.  It INSPIRES it’s customers to get outside and camp or hike…but be sure to buy the right equipment if you want it to be  perfect.  This easily results in sales.

Here is an example of one of REI’s recent advertisements:

This is a great example of how REI focuses it’s marketing on inspiring people and less about the product itself.  We could all learn from this!

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