Here is a simple idea that is free to all of our readers to consider and deploy and adopt and adapt. I mentioned this at Forum Oxford last week and there was a lot of good discussion about it mostly suggesting the idea itself is quite sound. What is it all about? I want to create engagement marketing using the window displays of retail stores.
Normally your retail store window is static advertising. You sell fishing tackle or baby clothes or running shoes or fine whiskies or whatever. The window display shows those items and you hope they will draw some of the passers-by to come visit your store. You change the display every month or so to keep it interesting and attractive.
What if rather than the window display being passive, it became active. I don't mean just adding animation to it (like many Christmas displays, with a robotic santa claus or a little train with the train moving some of your goods around the display. And I don't mean putting in a TV camera and video display to show the faces of the people who stop by your window and use the display as a kind of mirror. No, what if the display could reach out and virtually touch the passers-by and truly engage with them. Discuss with them - and most importantly - to get the passers-by to react and RESPOND to you?
Wouldn't this be magical? If yoru window display could stop passers-by and grab their mobile phone numbers - not without permission, secretly, but very openly. And best of all, out of all who pass by, only discuss with those who really are interested in what you sell.
EVERY ECONOMICALLY VIABLE PERSON
There is only one gadget that every economically viable person on the planet carries every day everywhere, and that is not the wristwatch or the iPod or the laptop or the Playstation Portable. It is the mobile phone. There are 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions. That means there is a mobile phone subscription for 59% of the humans on the planet. And your shop-window display can act as your salesperson. To engage with tose who pass by your store.
How to do this? By SMS text messaging of course. You create an interactive display that features something you sell in your store. You make it a game. Give away one item. Something you sell.
First, note that people who pass your store who are not interested in what you sell will ignore your little contest. That is good. You get qualified leads. These people are really interested in your store and what it sells. If I see a store selling fishing tackle or baby clothes or tennis shoes - I walk right past - I am honestly not interested. But that whisky store in London, I'll stop by its window every time.. As to my sister, she'll stop by the baby good store. My cousin will stop at the tennis shoes store and my uncle will stop at the fishing good store. We all have our own interests. That is good. You don't want to bother collecting phone numbers of all who pass by. Only those of passers-by who really are interested in your store.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
So lets make a game. Very simple. Guess this. So lets take something unique and difficult to guess. Lets say you are a jeweller and you sell watches. So lets make it a game to guess the serial number of that specific Omega watch that is in the display this month. You celebrate James Bond and the Quantum of Solace movie, so lets guess the serial number of this Omega watch on display. The person who guesses the closest wins the watch oen month from today. Don't make the display of the contest too big, but just big enough that those who stop by your window see the chance to win that watch.
Lets add one twist. Put two numbers there - one for men, one for women, and let the contestants pick - but only enter one - whether to guess the womens' watch or the men's watch. But they are not allowed to enter both contests. This way you get the contestant to automatically self-select are they more intersted in men's jewelry or women's jewelry. Note you are NOT interested if that person is a man or a woman. You the shop-keeper want to know which type of jewelry the person buys. Could be a single guy buying for himself or a married guy who doesn't wear any jewelry but buys it for the wife, etc.
In your window display, make it clear that the contestant will be charged normal SMS text messaging rates (don't make this a premium SMS scam..) and make it clear in your window display, that the contestant enters your store customer VIP database and the store will send further info to your phone.
Now what do you get? You get the moblie phone number and the permission to market directly to that person. Don't abuse that privilege. But you may set up an automated response SMS to all who enter, so the system send a reply SMS to the contestant, verifying they are entered, and informing them of how many days are left before the gift is awarded. And then include a link to your mobile web page (WAP page) where you have some info about your store (locations, maybe you have several stores), opening hours etc. And some specials and some coupons. And your store phone number obviously. Easy to do but now you have the simple mobile e-business extension to your store.
Then one day before your contest ends you send an MMS picture message alert to all contestants, informing them of the results that will be posted in your store window tomorrow - and also results posted at the store mobile website and the winner will be notified personally. And most importantly you inform the contestants that there will be a NEW contest tomorrow at the store window.
Why new contest? Because now you can classify the customers, identify who are locals and who joined your contest who really doesn't live in your town but just happened to pass by your store last month. Now we do another guessing game. Not a serial number of a watch but say guess the weight of the semi-precious stone on that ring: how many carats is the aquamarine stone on that ring for example. Those of your contestants who also join this second contest, were absolutely definitely at your window display both last month and this month. Either the person lives near your store or has regular need to come there. Maybe goes to school near your store or has a job near your store or visits a close friend who lives near your store etc. Doesn't matter why, but those who join both contests are definitely qualified customers who also are near you. They are not travelling businessmen who attended a conference at the hotel near by and will not return to that town this year.
What do you do with these numbers after you have them? Then you devise clever simple tools to drive visitors to your store. You run campaigns (but rarely, only once per month at most) to introduce offers to your customers. Give them a coupon and announce a special pre-sales day for your VIP customers, who can access the annual sale prices one day before they are announced at your store window. Make any coupons physically redeemable at the store and ensure you capture the phone numbers of those who redeemed coupons. This way you know which of your contestants are also returning to the store. these are your true VIP customers.
Also look for virtual content that relates to your business. If yousell watches, maybe you can find a simple collection of virtual watch face screen saver clocks that can be installed on the phone. Why not sell those too? Contact the owner and ask for a reseller license and sell them on your e-business website. Or for baby stuff, maybe some baby care ebooks and guides, or for fishng tackle, maybesome cool fishnig pictures etc. Jsut make sure you sell something with full permission and royalty to the original owner of the content. Just like you sell goods in your store. Where else is that customer of yours going to go first when they want to decorate their phone on the topic of your store inventory? To your website, not to that of Vodafone or Nokia (unless you sell phones ha-ha)
So there is your idea for the day. Hundreds of people walk by your store window every day. Dozens stop by the window, are interested, but do not walk into your store. You can turn your static display into engagement marketing. The way to do that is with the mobile phone. It can be done with very simple methods, using SMS text messaging. And is this science ficton? No, our friend Agustin Calvo of Movidream in Spain said that their company already does these kinds of interactive campaigns for their customers in Spain. (And Agustin is one of the speakers at the Forum Oxford Conference next week at Oxford University).