Monday, March 15, 2010

New Blog Series from CarrieWriter: Marketing Monday

Welcome to a new series I'm launching today guess it...Marketing Monday.  We all get marketed to, every day, in one way or another. The other day I was thinking, that instead of walking around saying to myself, "wow, that was really great," or "hmm, that didn't go so well," after seeing something, reading something, going to something, or signing up for something,  I could share my thoughts and impressions with you all, and we could learn from each other. So, that's how I got the idea for "Marketing Monday." As a mini experiment, each Monday for a little while, I will write a post here on Posterous on my real life experiences where, as a marketing consumer, I give a thumbs up or thumbs "not so great" to a recent event or promotion I have participated in, and whether I feel it was successful or not. I'll include the reasons why, as well as tips on how the business/organization/advertiser could have made some improvements. I'll also be looking for your comments and feedback on promotions you have been involved in and whether they were successful or not. If your liking these posts and want to get them right in your in box, feel free to subscribe.

So here, we go with our first installment:

Thumbs Up Goes to: San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation

On Saturday, March 6, the Tech Museum opened its doors for a members-only "Parallel Universe" special event, where they offered free admission, (you get this as a member anyway), free admission to a great new Imax movie, "Space Station," narrated by Tom Cruise (need I say more?) and extended hours at the museum store, where I got a cool new butterfly necklace and enjoyed my 10% member discount. They also had a nifty "Tribble Toss," (OK, I confess that was one of my favorite Star Trek episodes), as well as free admission to the Star Trek Exhibit, and friendly roaming Klingons who were happy to take advantage of photo opps. We enjoyed all the events, and got a chance to try out an exhibit we had wanted to previously, consisting of a computer that takes your photo, and then draws your picture based on the photo information it gets. (See video). I would say the highlight for me was truly the Space Station Imax movie, which was only an hour but had amazing footage of astronauts during their daily routine assembling the various components of the space station. You really get to feel like what 0 gravity might be, and watching one astronaut pluck tiny water droplets out of the air, and another eat his popcorn that was revolving in the air like a pinwheel, was fantastic.  Seeing another astronaut test out a new mechanism that prevents him from getting "lost in space" should his cable become untethered during a spacewalk, was an edge-of-your seat moment!

OK, so what did the museum organizers do right?

1. They made members feel special by offering the free Imax viewing, having the Klingon "special guests," and having special tables set up with fun activities for kids and adults, like make your own kaleidoscope. There's nothing worse then joining a club or organization and then regretting it later, for whatever reason. The event really  made us glad we had joined, since we don't go around joining museums and getting new memberships everyday.
2. They expressed their appreciation to members by announcing their thanks before the movie presentation, and also highlighting new programs and educational inititiatives they were launching, despite economic challenges.
3. They gave technology a human side. By having staffers dress up as Star Trek characters, and in particular showing the Imax movie which really gave personality to the space program, they did their job in terms of making science personal and real.

What could have been better?

1. Food. Aside from keeping the cafeteria open and the availability of Crystal Light "space juice," there was no special food offering, and that would have been a nice touch.
2. Meet and Greet. There was no central area for members to gather and shmooze, making the event a bit scattered and chaotic. Museum staffers could have led the newly arrived to a dedicated room or reception area, where they could chat with members, take home information, and meet the staffers as well as any other of the leaders or officials involved behind the scenes. A local celebrity or two would have been fun as well - either an author or actor, for example.
3. Follow-through at the end. If the museum were interested in increasing their membership, they could have offered discount coupons to current members like us to pass onto folks they think might be interested in joining, thus getting a little more juice out of their evening. Not an out of this world idea, don't you think?

Thumbs So-So Goes to: Baskin- Robbins
I hate to do this, since I used to love Baskin-Robbins growing up. I yearned for their ice cream cakes for my birthday, and would do anything for a Rocky Road! But here's the problem. I had signed up for their newsletter and birthday club. So, when it's your birthday, you get an offer for a free cone. When mine came a few weeks ago, I happily printed out the coupon, scheduled my designated free cone day, (yes, I do schedule these things), and went off to my local B&R. Things were not so happy once I got there. I proudly showed the man behind the counter my free coupon offer, and he tried to tell me ...that it was not my birthday! OK, it was not the exact day of my birthday, but I was within the time frame that the coupon was being offered. So, after a bit of mildly unpleasant explanation that the coupon was still good, the man behind the counter grumpilyy served me my Rocky Road, and it really put a damper on things. So much so, that I may not go back again for a long time.
What's the marketing lesson here? Don't go offering happy coupons to customers on e-mail and then have real life representatives of your brand out there being not nice. It doesn't look good for your brand or your image. In honor of this experience, I now have a new marketing term: ice cream sandwich marketing. That means that you have to be consistent with your marketing, from the outer shells to the ice cream in the middle, and if there's any surprise, it better be a good one. It's all about the layers!
That's a wrap for my first "Marketing Monday" installment. Please feel free to comment and share your experiences here.

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