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Lululemon’s Secret Sauce Is Pedestrian–But Intuitive and Damn Refreshing!

Here are a few excerpts from a recent Wall Street Journal article on Lululemon and its seemingly anachronistic methods of product design, customer insight and brand management.

  • Unlike most retailers, Lululemon doesn’t use software to gather customer data, doesn’t build lots of new stores, doesn’t offer generous discounts and purposely stocks less inventory than it can keep on its shelves.
  • When it comes to making decisions, Lulu has gone back to basics. It doesn’t use focus groups, website visits or the industry staple—customer-relationship management software, which tracks purchases.
  • Instead, Ms. Day spends hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores. “Big data gives you a false sense of security,” says Ms. Day, who spent 20 years at Starbucks Corp., overseeing retail operations in North America and around the world.
  • Lulu also trains its workers to eavesdrop, placing the clothes-folding tables on the sales floor near the fitting rooms rather than in a back room so that workers can overhear complaints. Nearby, a large chalkboard lets customers write suggestions or complaints that are sent back to headquarters.
  • While a large part of Lulu’s strategy is getting the product right, an equally important part is keeping it scarce. The goal is to sell gear at full price and to condition customers to buy when they see an item rather than wait. “Our guest knows that there’s a limited supply, and it creates these fanatical shoppers,” says Ms. Day.
  • Lulu also sells 95% of its gear at full price, says Chief Financial Officer John Currie.
  • The company never puts its core items on sale, and it has a very strict return policy: no products accepted after 14 days, and all must be unwashed and unworn, with original tags.
Poor Lost and Forgotten Brand

Poor Lost and Forgotten Brand

I saw these Nike “swooshes” at the bottom of my gym locker the other day. Kind of disembodied don’t you think?

Where’s the shoe? The shirt? The shorts? The water bottle? The heroic athlete leaping tall buildings?

I’m not a Nike fan, but as a marketer I felt for these discarded brand embodiments–forgotten and left for dead.

I think I winced–and chuckled at the same time!

 

How Google Shows Content Marketing Is Easy–and Effective

So if you’re a marketing or web type, you most likely saw Google’s unprecedented video of its search meeting:

Video! The search quality meeting, uncut (annotated)

This really is awesome for a number of reasons:

The first–and most obvious–thing is that  Google is being more transparent around its highly secretive search “recipe”. It’s showing anybody who is interested what kind of meticulousness and rigor go into decisions to improve search.

The second thing, and the thing that matters more to me as a marketer, is that Google is showing what good SEO–and what good marketing–is all about: producing great content. This video, is  not professionally produced, nor is it staged or scripted. It’s just an honest peek inside their meeting.

So this is my observation: lots of firms have a treasure trove of good “content” happening every day in their company: it could be an epiphany regarding product development, or an anecdote from a client service rep about outstanding service, or a story about how useful a customer found a product… The take away is that marketing doesn’t always have to be the production of brand new “marketing” content, it can simply be opening the doors to show the real people behind the work, products and company.

Kudos to Google for walking the talk.

 

Small Biz Folks, Ditch Your Crusty Email Newsletter Sign Up Form Now!

Small Biz Folks, Ditch Your Crusty Email Newsletter Sign Up Form Now!

If there has ever been an analog-t0-digital snafu worth solving, it’s the small biz email newsletter sign up form.

How many times have you seen those little note books covered in pizza sauce, jammed-up on the counter, closed or otherwise being ineffective and uninviting? It screams: “We’ll never add these to anything and you’ll never get an email from us!”

That’s why MailChimp’s Chimpadeedoo is my hero. Looky here:

MailChimp's Chimpadeedoo

That’s a sweet iPad rendering of their new technology. With auto-sync to their email platform, MailChimp has elegantly left small biz folk with a sweet opportunity: to actually communicate with their clients via email.

There’s no reason anymore not to do it.

Technology that makes things suuuuuuper easy takes the cake every time.

Big Chains Are Losing Out By Not Having Local Store Websites

So I went to Chipotle.com looking for info on their West Chester, PA store.  I expected a full-fledged site dedicated to my particular local store—with local info, reflecting local culture… Unfortunately, all I found was basically a phone number and a map!

Listen up national brands/big chains: From a customer’s perspective, the local store is THE chain. So when I go to your site, give me an experience that has significance with regard to the local store… before the you give me the “chain” story.

I checked Starbuck’s out too—they do it incorrectly as well.

Are CMOs scared of diluting the BRAND message by offering local content? Are they uncomfortable with the messiness of enabling local managers? Or the expense of that?

Let’s put it this way: If your friend opened a restaurant in your town and he didn’t have a website what would you do? You’d shake him silly? Isn’t that what Chipotle is doing when they send local searchers to the corporate site?

Does anyone know of a national brand that has a local-orientation to their web strategy?

Marketers Paint the Future

Epiphany:

Marketers are in the business of painting the future in such a way that using their company’s products look like common sense.

Now, if you’re peddling crapola for a company you don’t believe in then this is sheer torture—but if you’re fortunate enough to be inspired by the benefits your company’s services or products provide, then it’s creative, inspiring and lots of fun.

And if you’re Apple, then I guess you make products that change the future!

 

Go-To-Market Overselling?

It’s a pet peeve of mine when marketers go all pie in the sky and promise more than they can ever deliver.

In this case LevelUp is just jamming them in:

  • “Good things happen”
  • “Save Always”
  • “Use it Everywhere”

Can these things be true?

Is it a turn off to adopters?

Does Anybody Use the Word “Viral” Anymore?

It used to be that ‘going viral’ meant that people forwarded the s$#t out of some meme.

Today, you don’t really hear the word “viral”—”virality” yes, but more on that in a minute.

Here’s why:

In the olden days—4 years ago!—”viral” meant that a meme spread throughout networks as a result of many people working fairly hard/investing real quantities of time—most likely that meant people spammed their address book or fired off 10s or 100s of individual emails. It meant that the meme had overcome a relatively significant impediment to achieve ubiquity or success.

But today that doesn’t apply. Today, meme’s traverse an ecosystem that is fundamentally built to facilitate the success of viruses.

So today we use ‘virality’ to describe the relative success or value of a meme’s growth towards ubiquity—because everything is viral, isn’t it?

And “virality” isn’t even listed in Dictionary.com!

Share the Meme Not the App

Share the Meme Not the App

I have Dictionary.com’s iPhone app, and I receive their Word of the Day. Today I actually looked at it and it was a gem:

Bandersnatch: An imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition.

There’s something about this words that seems so cool and useful that I’m definitely gonna use it. Ok, that makes me a little strange… My instinct, though, was to share it on Facebook–where my geeky linguaphile friends would surely drool over my discovery.

Alas, the only sharing on the Dictionary.com iPhone app was for the whole app!

Who wants to share a whole app!

People tend to share the smallest parts of our culture—song, photo, text, quote, link, video… Have you ever heard of an app going viral?

And so Dictionary.com could enable the sharing of words because that’s what people do. Marketing strategies might share apps, but people sure don’t.

It’s the meme that counts!

 

Twitter the Tool Rocks, Twitter the Product Name Doesn’t

I’m a big fan of Twitter. Really, I think it’s bonafide communication infrastructure—on par with the phone, tv, fax… Sometimes I say it’s RSS on steroids, your own personal multi-media channel… I have a lot of emphatics for it ( I just made that word up!).

But you know what would really help me out? If Twitter was named something else.

Most of the time when I’m trying to explain it, it really feels like I’m trying to defend it. The word ‘twitter’ just has so many negative connotations: insignificance, small, ephemeral, light, transitory, fleeting…

So Twitter product guys, what’s with the name?

I think with a name like Burst—or a utilitarian acronym—adoption rates could have been even faster. “Facebook”, “email”, “internet”, “SMS”… these are all much better names because they’re descriptive or utilitarian—not self-deprecating.

Product naming isn’t for the birds.