Category Archives: Sales

Condiments – It’s the little things that count…

It was the Fox who said, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” In a world of rapidly changing real and digital landscapes providing your customers with anything that is going to go that extra little 1% can truly pay off.

I came across a super simple story about this timeless piece of wisdom from Seth Godin this morning.


It takes a bold and confident cook to serve a naked hot dog. No roll, no kraut, no mustard.

And a movie shown on a bare wall in an empty room is never going to be received as well as one seen in a crowded theater.

It might be bold to put your work into the world unadorned, but it’s probably ineffective.

We know that a placebo works better if it’s handed to you by a doctor in a lab coat, and that the little show the sommelier puts on improves the taste of wine.

The packaging, the service, the environment, the hours, the interactions, the way it feels to tell our friends–these are all the free prize.

This bonus, the extra free prize that doesn’t seem to be the point of the item itself, is often more important than the thing you think you actually make. The single most effective way to improve your impact is to do a better job of providing it.

Sure, a better hot dog is always appreciated. But when you want to increase user satisfaction, don’t forget to offer better mustard.



The Apple Marketing Philosophy

Today I am simply going to let this picture talk for itself. There is something in this for any business in the game of selling products. Whether it be clothing, technology, ball bearings, you name it.

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Social Media Snake Oil Salesmen

Today’s article is exploring the murky world of snake oil salesmen in social media. We all know the story of the salesmen in the late 1800’s selling the miracles of snake oil. In another way the same is happening again but within the social media sphere.

Now let’s be clear. There are very distinct and real opportunities within social media. The thing with snake oil though is that there is an imaginary correlation and causation between some metric and your brand. Social media can work and has worked for multiple brands but you need to be strategic in your approach and understand the environment.

Below is an article written by Adam singer via The Future Buzz blog. Adam brings up the issue of snake oil salesmen within social proofing strategies.

Social proofing is not a new concept and one we’ve been discussing for years. There are many types of social proofing, (just a few discussed in the first link) yet these days a lot of brands seem to be obsessed over just one.

One that is almost totally meaningless to everyone except the brand: follower/like count. It might be a little less irksome if it was an obsession with numbers associated with a source community. But nope, just social outposts. Sad.

Look around and you see a ridiculous arms race to inflate meaningless KPIs like Twitter followers and Facebook likes among others. It’s just silly and as a marketer who actually measures to conversion / revenue from the web for clients (and personally) it frustrates me when I see brands:

  • Run promotions that are basically non-sequitur to what they sell / stand for simply to increase (irrelevant) followers (giving away an iPad is basically telling the world you have no good ideas).
  • Hire snake oil social media agencies that use tools or automation to pump up publicly view-able metrics with spambots (you’re really not fooling anyone).

It’s beyond un-creative and a waste of time and resources. It’s harmful for everyone involved because none of these marketers understand how to build an activated web community, how to actually get to conversion from their initiatives or create any sort of sustainable returns. These brands will never achieve anything other than reaching an arbitrary number.

This exercise by brands and agencies is shameful practice and if your social proofing strategy includes chasing friend and follower counts (in 2011!) you honestly need to get out of the marketing industry. These people are charlatans, not marketing professionals.

What’s even sadder are attempts to try to extend what is nothing more than a social proofing tactic to a business outcome. Sure, it is easy for companies who sell products relating to the fan/follower circus to assign blanket values to these numbers. Easy, but as we keep pointing out, ridiculous. It’s easy for consultants to slap fancy labels on metrics / add pixie dust / make up nonsense formulas (when those who do understand web measurement don’t need to do this) but they generally fall apart under scrutiny.

But I’ll actually give a free pass today to brands participating in fluffing KPIs. It’s still shameful, yes, but they either don’t know any better or are getting pressure to perform this arbitrary exercise which, btw, makes them look bad to smart people. Their punishment is self-inflicted damage they are doing by hurting any actual business benefits they would have accrued through nurturing a real web community. Anyway, see how easily we have called out examples of manipulation (from major brands) in the past? It’s going to catch up with them.

It is the snake oil agencies and consultants we should be naming and shaming. Although thinking about this today, if a brand with a legitimate budget for online marketing consulting or internal hire still doesn’t know enough to stay away from swindlers, maybe these two groups are made for each other and we’re better off ignoring the whole thing. As the saying goes, a fool and his money are easily parted.

What do you think? Should we let the fluff KPI-crazed consultants and brands have each other?

None of this stuff is new. At this point, are the serious digital marketing professionals simply better off working with those interested in creating real result-oriented programs?

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Player Profile: Pachinko Pictures

Player: Pachinko Pictures

Location: Melbourne Australia


Specialities: All things animation across web, video, iphone, ipad, android, and many more

Clients: McQ by Alexander McQueen, Vogue Japan, Chupa Chups, Nike, and London Fashion Week to name a few…

McQ by Alexander McQueen: Youths from Pachinko Pictures on Vimeo.

Pachinko Pictures is a Melbourne based digital animation studio with extensive experience in the world of fashion. A small team capable of big things. UK natives Dave & Ian of Pachinko have worked across the globe with the likes of Nike, McQ, and Vogue. Dave & Ian were engaged to produce the first ipad magazine for Vogue Japan (Vogue Hommes Blossom). The result of which is below.

Vogue Hommes: Blossom from Pachinko Pictures on Vimeo.

Upon the release of the ipad in 2010 Pachinko was one of the first players on the block to leverage the new found technology to levels ahead of the time. See how Pachinko utilised the brand of Lady Gaga in a magazine concept with an integrated commerce and retail platform.

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Gaming Offers a Big Jackpot. Can You Figure Out How to Play?

This article exploring the use of game elements by fashion labels to drive sales first appears in the New York Times on March 4 2011.


A total of 3 billion hours a week are devoted to the likes of Angry Birds, Grand Theft Auto and Farmville — the kind of attention that e-commerce sites only wish consumers were giving their goods.

So gaming has become a prime topic of conversation around luxury fashion brands. And while no one yet has determined how to successfully redirect much of this video play, a number of sites are using elements like point scoring, scavenger hunts and clock countdowns to engage, entertain and, hopefully, ultimately build loyalty.

“You have to ensure the DNA of the brand remains intact. Some can be playful, and others less so,” stressed Tony King, founder and creative director of King & Partners, a digital solutions agency for luxury and lifestyle brands that is based in New York. “These new marketing tools cannot be gimmicky, and they cannot go against the nature of the product itself.”

Dunhill, the British heritage brand, experimented with a simple goal scoring game during the World Cup last summer — and ended up with a best-selling necktie.

Developed by the Japanese media company Hakuhodo, the game could be reached through Dunhill’s Japanese Web site or on a mobile phone or tablet by scanning a special QR, or quick response, bar code from a poster or advertisement.

The game, called Shoubu-Foku, simulated league soccer. Users accumulated goals, which initially produced virtual prizes — like a bag or blazer for the in-game player, but those who gathered large numbers were given an exclusive chance to buy the official Japanese team tie.

“That tie outsold every other style we have ever sold online,” said Jason Beckley, Dunhill’s marketing director.

Dunhill does not have any similar game features available now, and Mr. Beckley noted that future ones would probably be linked to the brand’s intellectual and creative associations — like the “Day 8” platform it recently introduced, which offers videos ranging from a look at craftsmanship to a violin performance in a London cab.

But Gabe Zichermann believes games can blend well with luxury brands’ goals.

Mr. Zichermann is a specialist in “gamification,” the use of gaming techniques by marketers and Web site developers to engage users and build brand loyalty.

Since the beginnings of the Web two decades ago, top-end fashion brands have been notably hesitant to embrace its advances but, Mr. Zichermann said, “Luxury fashion brands are aspirational, and aspiration is one of the powerful emotional states we leverage when we do gamified design.”

He added that some luxury retailers had been using game techniques for years, like Neiman Marcus’s sophisticated “point” system.

“What they understood is that top-tier luxury consumers are not after free stuff,” Mr. Zichermann said. “They want exclusive status and privileged access to the brand.”

He also referred to the countdown used by Gilt, an invitation-only luxury discount site. A small group of its top customers are rewarded with an invitation to join Gilt Noir, which gives privileged buyers a head start to the same sales. “Essentially Gilt Noir members are rewarded with more time, to spend more,” he said.

Even just the step of “liking” a brand on Facebook has an element of play, along the lines of the “Bang You’re It” game on Facebook thatMarc Jacobs created for the label’s most recent men’s fragrance, Bang.

The cheeky game encourages players to “bang” their friends, giving their profile photos the crumpled look of the perfume bottle and earning the player the chance to win prizes, including a trip to New York to see a Jacobs runway show.

When Jimmy Choo introduced its first sneaker collection late last year, the brand worked with the location-based mobile platform Foursquare to create “Catch a Choo,” a kind of scavenger hunt around London.

When fans following the game on their mobiles saw that sneakers had “checked in” somewhere in the city, anyone quick enough to arrive there before the sneakers “left” could pick a pair in the style and size of their choice.

The British trade magazine Drapers selected the game as “Best Use of Social Media” at its recent 2011 e-tail awards. “The goal was to raise awareness of the product and create sales, and we were delighted with the results,” said Josh Schulman, the brand’s chief executive.

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Why the hell T&Cs matter?

When it comes to things that are universally treated with the utmost of distain Terms and Conditions must be up there with dodgy used car salesmen, telemarketers at dinner time, and someone openly copying your latest season designs.

Yes, T&Cs can be a pain in the rear, but they can also save you a world of pain or (in this case) embarrassment. A shinning example was a recent Slurpee promotion by 7-11 in Australia. 7-11 recently invited customers to bring their ‘own cup’ in a one-off promotional event. Never underestimate the ingenuity of people to cheat the system…

Admittedly 7-11 have not lost in this circumstance. You could actually play to it quite cleverly to score traditional media coverage for the price of a gallon of Slurpee juice… It is however a classic case of why T&Cs need to be given the attention they deserve.

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Copying Zara: Utilising Zara’s Strategies to Grow a Young Fashion Business

Zara’s expansion globally, and in particular entry in to the Australian market, has fuelled speculation that the fashion game is changing. Businesses not ready to compete with Zara will be wiped out as customers flock to refresh their wardrobes every fortnightly ‘Z-Day’.

If you are one of these businesses, or looking to enter the market, all may not be lost. Perhaps there is even something you develop from Zara’s model.

Today EF is looking into some simple things that a young fashion label, or even a mature fashion business, could execute relatively simply to acquire some of Zara’s secret sauce. EF has investigated three cogs with the Zara machine that could apply to your business.

1) Vertical Integration = Creative Control. Creative control = Adaptability.

It is nothing new to hear that Zara, and its parent company Inditex, operate within an almost fully integration production, distribution, and supply chain. From “The Cube” in La Coruña, northern Spain the company can co-ordinate global logistics with military like precision.

But what this really breeds is adaptability and all the positives that can bring. Ability to change if you got it wrong, responsiveness to trends, cost reductions throughout the business etc…

Now you might not have the financial firepower to simply build your own vertical integrated system overnight, but you do have you. What I mean by that is use you to foster adaptability in your model. You can do this with trust. Earning the trust of your suppliers, distributors, and other parts in your production, sales, and distribution chains can give you flexibility when it counts. We all know of the things we have done for friends, but would not do for strangers.

2) Become an Intelligence Agent

Through a complex yet fundamentally simple system designers in The Cube can receive almost real-time data from Zara’s ~2,000 stores worldwide. This information primarily comes from staff on the ground talking to customers and using simple, yet extremely effective and efficient technology to communicate this intelligence internally. This intelligence then drives adaptability, informs logistical decisions, and so fourth.

Clearly most young fashion businesses lack the capital to build such technical systems. But there are three things to consider here. First of all the goal. The goal is to obtain the best quality information from your customer base and staff as possible as quickly as possible. The second is you may not need technology per-see to achieve this. If your business is a small operation a face to face solution with some key questions may be the answer. The third is, most of the technology is either a) free, or b) relatively in-expensive. For instance you could utilise an ipad/laptop at the point of sale to jot down answers to 5 key questions that submits the answers automatically to a Google documents form.

3) Know who you are and stick to it. 

A point to remember with is that Zara has a highly optimised model for them. I emphasise ‘for them’. Lightning-fast, locally-targeted designs are Zara’s specialty. Since inception in 1975 it has taken Zara the best part of 25 years to build their model, but what has surely helped in this journey is knowing from the very start what they were aiming for. If you are not sure what your goals are take some time out to figure them out. Do what you must, then tackle them with conviction.

In closing, I want the emphasise that simply trying to copy everything Zara does is not the simple answer to building a modern-day fashion powerhouse. But you can certainly learn from their mechanics. The key will be to utilise their principles, but optimise it your way.

For an interesting expose on the Zara machine and it’s impact on the world of fashion check out this video from Australia’s ABC network.

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Service that’ll make you gasp…How NOT to treat customers

Unless you spent today under a rock you would have heard about the story of  Keara O’Neil and her foray with Gasp employee Chris (a ‘qualified stylist’). You can find the full story and hilarious comments at the Melbourne Weekly site, along with the actual letters. Oh how these things spread…

In the middle of the largest slowdown in 20 years for the retail sector the shortsightedness and unparalleled unprofessional of GASP is a class A example of what not to do. In the military they call this the ‘one man war.’ This is where the stupid misguided actions of just one grunt can have mission critical impacts.

There are unconfirmed reports that this single issue is trending second in Australia today. The fact that GASP are attempting to remove posts from their Facebook and Twitter feeds would indicate their knowledge of social media is up there with their service ethic. Fuel to the fire.

In the words of one Melbourne Weekly comment “good luck in the recession.”

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The Connected Continent

It is no surprise that the internet is now a part of every day life in and outside of business. What began as simple websites and directories has evolved with cheetah like pace to an essential service. But is this really only the tip of the iceberg..?

Deloitte Australian and Access Economics explore the growing impact of the internet on the Australian economy in their September 2011 report The Connected Continent. Although the report seems to have been commissioned and funded by Google, the overarching themes seem well worth taking note of.

Its getting bigger…

The report attempts to quantify the direct contribution of the internet to the Australian economy. The result is an astounding $50 billion (with a ‘B’). That puts it roughly on the same contribution level as Retail and Education and Training. Both of which are at $53 billion. However by 2016 the contribution of the internet to the Australian economy is set to expand to 70 billion.

There is still plenty of room to grow

The report illustrates that internet usages between 2007 and 2010 has doubled in Australia. With further advancements in technology infrastructure rapidly rolling out (i.e. NBN and smartphones), it is only natural that software continues to evolve to further impact traditional retail models. Already Tissot customers can utilise augmented reality to see and feel how a watch fits them. Technology may expand to the point where it threatens traditional brick and mortar boutiques. How the client service of a boutique would be delivered digitally is yet to be answered?

Australia is warming to e-commerce

Analysis of online shopping in Australia imply that this purchase method will grow at 11.2% annually to 2016. That is roughly three times fasted than total economic growth. What does this imply? Convergence of consumption. Increasingly technology evolution will have people  shopping away from ‘traditional’ retail in favour of online options. The key to physical retail success will come through an offering beyond price. An experience that no technology can supplant. Finding what exactly that is for a fashion label will be key.

For those with a fetish for charts and all things economics, the full report can be downloaded through Deloitte Australia.

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Building video campaigns with TrueView by Google AdWords

Rob Young of Search Engine Watch reported yesterday how Google AdWords has released a new self service campaign format specifically to build video advertising campaigns. AdWords for Online Video campaigns bring completely new video ad formats previously not seen on YouTube promoted video accounts.

The full details of Rob’s guide to TrueView can be found here.

TrueView has also been extensively in simpleZesty’s latest post Google Entices Brands to Youtube Through Adwords For Video.

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