Sure, the winter holiday season is when consumer spending peaks. But it's also when ad clutter goes over the top and competition for shoppers is most ferocious. Two savvy online retailers stood out from the holiday crowd by doing the unexpected.
Break with tradition
How would you spend the holidays if these were your last days on earth? That's what JoeShopping asks its customers.
JoeShopping is a social-shopping site with a community component where users can compare prices, review products and earn points toward rewards. The company worked with HERO|farm to create the Last Christmas on Earth promotion.
The campaign exploits predictions that the world will end in 2012. It encourages online shoppers to indulge in the present while preparing for the afterlife.
"The campaign is designed to inspire you to spend what could be your last days doing the things on your bucket list, like climbing a mountain or starting a band," says Shaun Walker, HERO|farm's creative director.
Shoppers can find products that help them to accomplish their lifelong goals, such as mountain gear for climbing Mount Everest or musical instruments for that rock band. They can also browse through “final Christmas” gifts, offered at significantly discounted rates.
The company created two special, themed-product sections based on shoppers' expected destination after the Rapture: heaven or hell. For example, the heaven section features 1,500 thread-count bed sheets, bright light bulbs and white terrycloth robes, while the hell section highlights hot sauce, burn cream and ice packs.
"Whatever everybody else is doing, you should try to go the opposite way," says Walker. And we tell clients that if the idea doesn't make you somewhat uncomfortable, it's probably not going to work."
How to steal this idea: To break through the holiday clutter, JoeShopping.com tied the holiday to a pop-culture pseudo event. Look for a breaking news story, a situation in your hometown or a trending cultural theme to spice up your own holiday promo.
Market during the slump
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are huge for Haralee, a site that sells custom-designed garments for women suffering from hot flashes or night sweats. But CEO Haralee Weintraub found another time to reach her target shoppers, who are midlife women.
"We are an online retailer, so of course it is all about Christmas sales, but we uncovered a great promotion opportunity—Super Bowl," Weintraub says. "Many of our demographic women are home, bored and ready to shop during Super Bowl Sunday."
Weintraub begins her holiday promotions in November with a one-day, 30 percent-off sale, and continues to build momentum with e-mails and promotions. But she's found that sales are still good after the holiday, possibly because consumers are still in buying mode and may not have received what they wanted as gifts.
"We advertised [last year] on e-mail prior to Super Bowl and had a one-day super sale. We were a little hesitant to try it, because we do see our sales drop when the January bills come in, but it was great," Weintraub says. "Many of our shoppers have discovered that they didn't get what they wanted for Christmas, and that is a better night sleep. We remind them that we can help with that."
How to steal this idea: Pay attention to when your site traffic and sales peak to find opportunities to market to your customers when others are not. For example, Weintraub has found that customers often shop her site in the middle of the night, when they've been woken by hot flashes. Psych out your ideal customers to understand what they'll be doing this holiday season, and strike with your marketing when they're most likely to be bored.
Image credit: J.D. Hancock