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3 notions from REI’s Black Friday news

By Leslie Prevish

Leslie Prevish Blog 8-13What did you think of REI’s announcement about closing on Black Friday and paying its employees to stay home? Marketing gurus lifted eyebrows and praised the marketing “stunt” that got their CEO on the CBS This Morning, among other high-profile media outlets. Several companies followed suit. I’m sure a bean-counter crunched the numbers of the cost of closing that day compared to the number of additional business and loyalty they hope it will generate.

Will it work? Will current customers become more loyal? Will new customers flock to their stores this holiday season or buy products online? According to this article, REI’s Black Friday stunt taps into the future of retailing, it’s a new way to “sell ambient feelings” to customers and get them to do marketing for you. Yes, that sounds a bit vague and squishy to me too. So what does it mean for you?

  1. Find your ambient feelings. In the article, the author believes REI is selling “security and superiority” and building a stronger emotional attachment to the brand. What kind of “ambient feelings” can you provide for your brand?

Ask your customers and employees to give you three words to describe the vibe in your store, your approach on social media and the way they feel when they visit your website. Are they cookie-cutter retail and online experiences, or are you standing out and sticking around in their brains?

  1. Share that sentiment. Maybe deep down you’re a tech-hating Luddite, but the need for brands to effectively use social media is crucial, especially with Millennials, who average 5.4 hours a day on social channels, according to Want to Reach Millennials? This Is How They Spend Their Time. (Yes, it kind of blows your mind, doesn’t it? What did we do for 5 hours a day in our 20’s … Ms. Pacman?)

On their Optoutside page, REI invites people to Tell the World by using one of their National Geographic-level images or uploading a personal one, then sharing on several social channels. Check it out and think about what you want customers to tell their friends and family, then help them share it; think about local riding trails, parks or help them visualize and share their dream adventure using your product or service.

  1. Bold means business. I admire REI, as I related in my example of the patient salesperson in Closing Starts with Hello. But I would never have described them as bold until this announcement. Does your business make bold announcements?

A marketing friend told me once that to be effective, a marketing campaign has to offend someone, usually folks who are the opposite of the one the brand wants to attract. I call “baloney” on that concept. Are people who dislike hiking and love to shop on Black Friday offended by REI’s decision to close that day? Doubtful.

Ask your employees to brainstorm a bold move that reflects your brand values, stirs the “ambient feelings” of your customers and puts you in a positive spotlight. Consider the issues in your local community or industry that your customers care about. Take a stand.

"Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society." ~ Aristotle

A rider for 26 years, Leslie spent 15 years with Harley-Davidson (3 retail, 12 corporate) and created their marketing to women role in 2007. After 2 years at Trek Bicycles and 5 months volunteering in Tanzania, Leslie now helps companies sell more to new audiences. leslie@previshmarketing.com. www.previshmarketing.com.

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