WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1005 [post_author] => 9 [post_date] => 2013-01-07 10:49:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-07 18:49:47 [post_content] => Until recently, creating interactions between sponsored athletes and customers was not scalable. Traditional media forms, such as print, TV and radio limit conversation. Brands and their athletes can communicate with customers and fans, but that is it. There isn’t a medium for customers and fans to communicate back. Brands and athletes do all the talking and customers do all the listening. To make it worse, customers and fans don’t get to choose what they were listening to. That is not much of a relationship. It should be no surprise that brands are finding it more and more difficult to maintain customer loyalty. Digital tools change this dynamic. Brands, sponsored athletes and customers can now engage in a genuine conversation. Updating Your Sponsored Athlete Strategy Most Athletic and Outdoor brands use the same sponsored athlete strategy: find an athlete that appeals to a target demographic and have the athlete endorse products. This strategy usually includes developing a library of photos and videos where the athletes wears the brand. Some brands may be lucky enough to have media of their athlete winning while wearing the brand. The unlucky ones settle for bios, action shots, highlight reels, and non-podium finishes.It’s the same content as traditional marketing; it’s just applied to the website, mobile app or in-store display.The digital strategies for these brands do not fare much better. It’s the same content as traditional marketing; it’s just applied to the website, mobile app or in-store display. Customers ignore it, as they’ve always done. But the brands keep producing it. The majority of brands just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the fact that customers expect content to be both digital and interactive. Customers want to interact, not be talked at. They want to direct the engagement themselves. Television commercials, radio endorsements, and in-store print signage have become noise to consumers. In order to become a digital destination brands must move away from how they are currently using the digital tools at their disposal and towards how customers want to use digital tools to engage the brand and their favorite athletes. Athletes as Trusted Advisor Athletes have a special place in the hearts of fans. Fans see athletes and the brands they represent as two different entities. And as much as brands would like its customers to see both as one and the same, it is actually better that customers don’t. It’s this separation that gives credibility to their endorsements. Athletes are far more effective communicators than brands will ever be. They enjoy a higher level of regard and trust with customers.Whereas traditional media only allows intrusive and random sound bytes from athletes, digital tools encourage thoughtful and coordinated messages.Whereas traditional media only allows intrusive and random sound bytes from athletes, digital tools encourage thoughtful and coordinated messages. Customers who see their favorite athletes as idols do not need much communication beyond, “These are the shoes that I wear.” These customers are easy to engage. But customers who like to research a product before purchase need a bit more attention. An explanation of technical features, benefits, care instructions, fit, etc are things things customers want to know before a purchase. Sponsored athletes are in the position to be a trusted advisor, providing much needed knowledge to customers. And if it makes sense, they can even make recommendations to other complementary products that customers would like. Athletes can even provide reassurance post-purchase, discussing the ways a particular product has enhanced their performance over time.Sponsored athletes are in the position to be a trusted advisor, providing much needed knowledge to customersMaking Athletes More Accessible It is easy to put athletes on pedestals and make them inaccessible. Traditional media has been doing it for years. But customers don’t want hero worship. They want an athlete that they can connect with and engage. Some brands have found ways to use digital tools to innovate traditional marketing. Adidas is one such example. During the 2012 NBA playoffs, Chicago Bulls player and Adidas sponsored athlete, Derrick Rose tore his left ACL. This injury left the Bulls without their star player and Adidas without their star NBA spokesperson. Without Rose the Bulls were unable to advance to the NBA championship and Adidas was unable to leverage his playoff success to generate sales for the new D-Rose basketball shoes. At this point Adidas made an interesting decision. Instead of lamenting its bad luck, it decided to use Rose’s recovery as a way to generate interest and fervor for the 2012-13 NBA season. During the second half of 2012 Adidas produced “The Return of D Rose.” The YouTube series invites fans and supporters to be a part of his very personal and emotional journey to recovery.Instead of lamenting its bad luck, Adidas decided to use Rose’s recovery as a way to generate interest and fervor for the 2012-13 NBA season.The series generated more than 6.5 million views, 68,000 subscribers, 7,500 comments, 12,000 favorites and 39,000 likes for the adidasbasketball channel. Far more impressive is that among the commenters is Rose himself. After watching the series it is hard not to be a supporter of Rose and Adidas. Leveraging Digital Tools Adidas’ campaign has plenty of potential. Each one of those subscribes, comments, favorites and likes represent an opportunity to engage fans in the future. A name and an email address are all that would be needed to offer select fans a chance to win Bulls tickets, D-Rose shoes, Adidas NBA apparel, a meeting with Rose, an online Q&A, and more importantly a chance to become even bigger Rose and Adidas fan. The point here is not for brands to create push marketing channels, but for brands to become a platform that connects fans with their favorite athlete. Fans love nothing more than to tout and share their fervent passion for both athlete and the brands that helped to connect them. Leveraging digital tools to resonate with customers does not require an injured athlete or a YouTube campaign. One simple way brands can begin to be more effective is to incorporate athletes into the website and into digital retail displays. When customers want to know more about the technical features or performance benefits, the sponsored athlete can provide an explanation in his own words through a short video.When customers want to know more about the technical features or performance benefits, the sponsored athlete can provide an explanation in his own words through a short video.Maximizing the Relationship When maximizing the effectiveness of sponsored athletes, the three most important questions are:
Customers are digitally savvy and expect tools and interactions that are fluid. Traditionally, sponsored athletes have been “icons”, inaccessible and placed upon pedestals. These interactions are one dimensional: the brand marketing at customers with athletes as a mouthpiece. While this strategy still works, digital tools are allowing other types of interactions to happen, encouraging the conversation to no longer just be one dimensional. Any campaign that improves the relationship between athletes and fans is an opportunity to improve the brand’s standing with fans. Where possible, create digital avenues for fans to access their favorite athletes directly and engage with them through your site. Even if it is only practical to do so once a year with a live digital Q&A, take advantage of the opportunity to get conversations going that will provide valuable feedback and lasting impact. [post_title] => Sponsored Athlete As a Digital Tool [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => sponsored-athlete-as-a-digital-tool [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-08 15:45:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-08 22:45:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://thegood.com/?post_type=insights&p=1005 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => insights [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
- How are athletes helping brands create a stronger connection with customers?
- How are brands helping athletes create a stronger connection with customers?
- How can digital tools improve the experience for brand, athlete and customer?
Digital tools help sponsored athletes become more effective brand ambassadors. Brands that do not re-envision the sponsored athlete role are missing an opportunity to create deeper connections.
WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1008 [post_author] => 9 [post_date] => 2013-01-09 21:32:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-10 05:32:51 [post_content] => As Athletic & Outdoor brands seek higher revenues and improved profitability, e-commerce is becoming an increasingly important revenue stream. As it should be; brands will be able to ensure a more consistent customer experience, develop a better relationship with customers, and let’s not forget: brands will retain a higher margin from each product sold. As ideal as this sounds, Athletic & Outdoor brands can’t leave brick and mortar stores entirely. Aside from the fact that brands still need a way to launch products and display seasonal product lines, customers still want to experience first hand the latest and greatest. They need the reassurance of seeing a product in person, especially when trying to find the right fit. Competing Revenue Streams Brands are continuously launching new products each season. As they better understand which of these new products are gaining traction with customers, brands innately want to capture as much of the profitability as possible, especially as volume increases. This approach conflicts directly with retailers, dealer networks and distributors, who also want to maximize profits from these same high volume products. In this respect brands have an advantage. They are not limited to physical locations to interact with customers. Retailers, dealer networks and distributors are very much dependent on a physical presence as a point of sale. They could create e-commerce sites to compete with brands but the challenge in getting customers to see them as both a physical destination and digital destination will likely overwhelm its resources. In contrast, brand e-commerce websites are natural places for customers to go looking for a specific item. For example, customers don’t have to spend much mental energy on figuring out where to go online to buy size 8 black Nike Softball Cleats - at the very least, they know they will be able to find them at nike.com.Eventually, some brands will move entirely online. Naturally, retailers, distributors and dealer networks see this as a direct threat to their livelihood.Resisting Change Brands can avoid the headaches of high overhead costs, limited selection and staff education required by a retail location. Such cost savings allow brands to offer better pricing to customers while retaining the same margin. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many brands are racing to invest in their e-commerce platforms. Eventually, some brands will move entirely online. Naturally, retailers, distributors and dealer networks see this as a direct threat to their livelihood. Retailers are keenly aware of this trend and it concerns them deeply, so they have made attempts to combat this change. They threaten and even refuse to carry certain product lines unless brands agree to enforce consistent pricing and/or provide friendly financing terms. If these distribution channels represent a meaningful portion of revenues, then brands really have few options. To complicate matters further, stores have the added advantage of understanding customers better than the brands do. Customer feedback is easier to get in a retail environment, and stores have better mechanisms for assessing customer needs, preferences and aspirations. Finding a fit online will never be as natural as just trying something on, but it will get easier to communicate as the web evolves. Perhaps, the new athlete-endorsed basketball shoes are a bit too narrow and cause an athlete to roll their ankle. Perhaps, the sleeves on the new down-hill ski jacket are a little too tight in the shoulder and restrict movement. Perhaps, the orange shoe laces are the wrong shade of orange to match their college team colors. These are some of the hurdles that knowledgeable staff can answer and help customers to navigate. This type of customer understanding and trust is invaluable and will be difficult for brands to acquire overnight. Digital Solutions Despite these challenges, brands must be innovative to build an e-commerce base that isn’t antagonistic to its existing retail partner relationships. Digital tools offer a host of possible solutions.The first solution is obvious. Sell what the physical stores can’t and don’t.The first solution is obvious. Sell what the physical stores can’t and don’t. Stores are constrained by space and must sell products that produce the highest revenues per square foot. Cash flow is also a concern. So, items with lower inventory turn are a lower priority. This often means that specific brand product parts and accessories don’t end up in physical stores, allowing for brand e-commerce stores to capitalize on this gap in the market. Other products that stores don’t normally carry include: bundled packages based on position or athlete type, special or anniversary editions, and non-standard items such as hard to find sizes. All of these items can be sold online with ease and little disruption to retail channels.Through e-commerce fulfilling customized requests like these is possible, and does not upset retailers while providing a unique experience for customers.A second solution is similar to a strategy employed by Nike with their NikeID initiative. Physical locations tend to sell only the most popular colors and configurations depending on the sport, yet customers want unique items that are tailored to them. Online product configurators offer customers a way to personalize their own equipment. A great example is a coach who would like to special order their unique combination of team colors. By allowing customers to design their own version of a product online, brands are providing a service that retailers cannot. For instance, obtaining equipment in the customer’s team colors and engraved with their jersey number or name is a common request we’ve found through our consumer research in working with Athletic and Outdoor brands. Through e-commerce fulfilling customized requests like these is possible, and does not upset retailers while providing a unique experience for customers.According to a 2013 Google study, 40% of sporting goods customers who used a store locator to find a retailer went into the store to make a purchase.A third solution is offering a “Buy Local Now” button on the site. While this may seem to contradict a brand’s desire to capture more margin, it reflects a segment of the market that can’t wait 2-14 days for a product to arrive. Parents may need to buy cleats for their child’s first soccer practice that starts in two hours. Brands build loyalty by helping customers meet their needs regardless of if that need is online or in stores. According to a 2013 Google study, 40% of sporting goods customers who used a store locator to find a retailer went into the store to make a purchase (source: Carabetta and Marchant, 2013). Armed with that information, what retailer wouldn’t want more product information and accessibility available to customers. Partnering with Brick and Mortar Yet another solution offers a way for brands and their retail partners to work together and share in the rewards. Digital catalogs allow stores to leverage their physical space and brands to increase point of sale displays. These catalogs can include entire brand inventories. If customers can’t find what they are looking for in the store, the retail kiosk offers a way to complete a purchase and have an informed staff member guide them through the process. For stores, they don’t miss the opportunity to sell to a customer that is ready to buy and could receive a commission on the sale. They also don’t have the headaches of managing inventory, processing payment, managing cash flow and fulfilling orders. Brands with an e-commerce infrastructure can take care of those pain points for the stores. And the brands should, because the brands capture a sale they wouldn’t have gotten, obtain meaningful feedback that is normally retained at the retail store level, and develop another means to engage the customer. These retail kiosks represent a way for brands to share information with the customer and obtain information to refine its own e-commerce sales. E-commerce is an important revenue stream for brands. Its importance will only continue to grow as customers feel more and more comfortable conducting purchases through the internet. Balancing the needs of retail partners and the desire for growth will be challenging, especially as customer buying habits evolve. Digital tools offer innovative solutions that can manage both. It’s more important than ever to have a digital strategy that combines the interests of physical stores and your e-commerce website. [post_title] => Driving E-Commerce Without Upsetting Retail Partners [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => driving-e-commerce-without-upsetting-retail-partners [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-05-20 10:33:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-05-20 17:33:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://thegood.com/?post_type=insights&p=1008 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => insights [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
The threat of e-commerce to retail stores will only increase. Brands must manage revenue growth while maintaining good relationships with retail partners.
WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1055 [post_author] => 4 [post_date] => 2013-02-14 18:48:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-15 02:48:08 [post_content] => This is the first in a series of Insights aimed at improving the experience of shopping online. We’ll begin by proposing new ways to think about and position your products online, then discuss some of the more tactical aspects of increasing sales and conversions. The ability to shop online is one of the great conveniences of our time but the experience itself varies widely, and typically not for the better. This is particularly true when shopping for athletic and outdoor gear. Most brands don't provide content that helps customers distinguish between competing products. Save People Time or Lose Their Money When a visitor arrives at your site they have a goal in mind, something they want to accomplish. If the content and organization of your site doesn't naturally support their goal, they'll leave right away. This means that unless your site is actively designed to save people time accomplishing the things that are important to them, it is losing sales and frustrating your customers. We've surveyed and interviewed thousands of our client's customers to understand what is important to them on brand websites. We found that there are two primary tasks Athletic and Outdoor customers want to do online: research and buy products. Unfortunately most brands see their website as the perfect platform to cover all phases of the sales cycle when their customers expect it to handle two: evaluation and action. These are simple to accomplish, but are not well supported on most brand sites. Customers are frustrated by the experience. Sites are difficult to navigate. Search results are unhelpful. Irrelevant content gets in the way of what customers are trying to do.We found that there are two primary tasks Athletic and Outdoor customers want to do online: research and buy products.Think of Your Site Like a Store One helpful analogy for delivering an excellent online experience is to think of your site as a physical store, a well-considered retail experience. The web provides a self-service experience. Rather than customers walking in and asking an employee for help, your site acts as both a product display and a sales rep. Thankfully, it can effectively serve both roles with the right supporting content. The top business goals we hear for e-commerce sites are to increase conversions and sales. The top two goals of Athletic and Outdoor customers are to research and purchase products. If you deliver a site that helps customers easily find and buy the right products for their needs, your site will deliver on your need for higher sales numbers. Build a Digital Showroom Customers depend on web content to make purchase decisions. The importance of useful product content can not be overstated. If the quality or the delivery of your content is poor, customers will let you know by not buying your products. Great content acts as a stand-in for a knowledgeable salesperson — a way for customers to guide themselves through your products, to compare benefits across product lines and between brands, and to confidently choose the right product for them.Great content acts as a stand-in for a knowledgeable salesperson.Since nobody can actually touch or try on products digitally (yet), the site should make it easy to see the details that make them unique. Customers want a sense of quality and durability, to easily choose the right size / fit, and the reassurance that other customers like the product. If this all sounds like common sense, take a look through a few brand sites (including your own), and really try to understand what makes a product unique. Most digital content is carried over from print campaigns and catalogs, leaving customers to wade through marketing jargon to figure out if a product is the right fit for their needs. Most content found in a catalog is not very helpful online. It requires editing for the web, taking the perspective of a customer comparing multiple brands and products with no desire or energy to decipher marketing copy. Customers want to see details, quality photos and video content. They want to buy without being required to join your club. They want to know that you will support them if they need help. Help Your Customers Buy The gap between what customers expect and what they experience is wide. Ambitious editorial calendars drive content managers to share the brand message often, leaving the most important site content ignored and aging. Take the time to make sure you’re supporting your products with excellent content: detailed product photos and videos, clear benefit descriptions, easy sizing guides, and helpful user reviews. Your online sales will reflect the effort, and your customers will thank you for it. Continue on to Effective E-Commerce Part 2: Playing the Numbers [post_title] => Effective E-Commerce Part 1 of 4: Content That Sells [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => better-e-commerce-part-1-content-that-sells [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-04-17 16:54:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-04-17 23:54:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://thegood.com/?post_type=insights&p=1055 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => insights [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
Better e-commerce starts with better content. Most brands don’t provide the kind of content their customers are looking for to help them decide between competing products.