Being square is cool

Retailing is about providing the consumer with an experience. Alas, far too many retailers take it too seriously.

The retail experience should be fun for the consumers and the sales team.

Over the last few weeks in my presentations I have been introducing fun ideas that can engage the consumer and add value to the total experience. There are some ground rules that need to be applied:

  • The humour should make the consumer smile, but not offend them.
  • The humour, in my view should be linked to a cause as this gives it extra impact.
  • It should engage the target market.
  • The campaign should be ongoing, not a one off event.
  • It should create a conversation between consumers when they areaway from your business.
  • It should be related to your core retail activity.
  • The campaign should generate general media interest so that the campaign has the opportunity of going viral.
  • It should grow sales by either increasing the average sale, increasing customer count or ideally both.

This is quite a list of items that a humorous campaign needs to achieve. Many campaigns do not meet the target and as a result team members and consumers do not get engaged with the campaign.

Successful campaigns do occur in retailing, The Burger King “Left Handed Whopper” campaign developed for April Fool’s day a few years ago is one that comes to mind.

I recently spoke at a conference and was walking the trade show afterwards and discovered another humorous campaign that ticks all the boxes.

The farm and garden centre industry often celebrates the Fall or Autumn season using pumpkins as one of the major “core” products to get the consumer into the store.
This can be a busy period and therefore an ideal opportunity to develop a unique campaign in your catchment area.

Children are one of the major target markets at this time of year and if you can develop a marketing cause around children then you have an added bonus. One of the major concerns for children and parent s is school bullying. Bullying occurs mainly because some children find another child different to themselves. The National Bullying Prevention Month in the US is in October, the time when consumers go to farms and garden centres for pumpkins.

Therefore if you can built around these two themes you have a potential marketing opportunity

Think outside the box

Pumpkins are round, they have always been round and some may say they will always be round, but what happens if they were square?

Before the sceptics say this is not possible, let me take you to Japan. The Japanese eat a lot of watermelons, these are also round and this was a shipping nightmare for the grower. Some entrepreneurial growers started growing watermelons in a cube container and developed square shaped water melons which were easier to ship. If you can create square water melons and now heart shaped tomatoes, we can create some square shaped pumpkins using similar moulds. The result is you now have an interesting marketing campaign

Let me introduce you to Spookley, the square pumpkin www.spookleyfarmprogram.com a popular character who is the focus of a market campaign developed by Holiday Hill Farm in the US.

This company has linked into National Bullying Prevention Month and created an opportunity for the retailer to link in with local schools by developing Spookley-themed events that can be held in the retail location, farm, and local school and at movie theatres. Linking in a number of venues to create a humorous event.

Apart from your “Live” specially grown Spookley’s which you could hide among your round pumpkins the company will provide ideas on Spookley themed corn mazes, they provide outdoor signage, an animatronics Spookley that you can use on stage and in promotions, a giant inflatable Spookley, plus story time books, movies and allied products to allow you to increase the average sale.

The key is dedicated marketing support for you as a retailer. The company provides education-generated lesson plans and activity sheets to enable you to engage with the target consumer. They provide material for local TV and radio promotions and school field day flyers.

What this company has created is a tool kit for retailers to use to create unique fun events with a message.

You may not be a pumpkin seller, but this is an ideal model that can be used by any organisation to develop a memorable humorous marketing campaign.

If you can do this with a pumpkin, imagine what you could do with some of the products in your store.

John Stanley is a retail consultant and speaker specialising in merchandising, team and image building, customer service and sales training.

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