Thursday, August 28, 2008

It’s All About Placement

Getting effective exposure for your business today is difficult. Cutting through the noise of marketing messages and rising costs for starters…not to mention trying to find even the tiniest space that doesn’t already have a logo on it.

Today, however, I saw something new. From one of the fastest growing internet businesses of recent years, not surprisingly--Zappos Shoes ( Thanks to the TSA regulations we all have to shuffle through security check-point lines—coughing up our metals, liquids, fingernail files, laptops, a bit of our dignity…and our shoes.

And there’s magic moment for Zappos. You go to put your valuables into one (or three) of those plastic bins—attention sharpened by adrenaline (from the flight, the security maze, or the Starbucks)—and you are met with a creative and colorful promo for Zappos. What a great idea. New real estate in and virtually promo-message-less space. And I’m sure they got a great deal—I don’t really see the TSA plastic bin folks as the most knowledgeable negotiators of ad space pricing.

So this makes me wonder what new promotional real estate is available for college stores on campus or around town. What about the baskets or bins at campus or local libraries? Or perhaps a joint venture with these organizations for bags. The messaging could focus on books and reading—what we have in common. What about the welcome carpets in specific campus buildings? I could even envision the luggage carts of campus or community hotels and residence halls…if you use the right message and your store logo in an appropriate way.

With all the promo noise in our world. It’s going to take laser targeting and creation of whole new opportunities (think Blue Ocean Strategy) to get our messages across to our customers. Zappos came up with a great idea. What opportunities are waiting out there for your store?

Tony Ellis, CAE

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Create Your Own… .

The advertising marketplace is all a flutter this week as The Gap brings back some heavy duty advertising for the fall after a 2008 ad hiatus. Instead of the usual Gap marketing onslaught of high dollar big name entertainers in a pair of khakis, Gap has chosen more niche focused musicians, actors and celebrities to anchor the new “create your own…” campaign.

With visuals in relaxed black and white visuals and strong GAP graphical statements the new campaign is in stark contrast to the Madonna electric disco ball feel of past campaigns.

All of this got me to thinking that there is a reason Gap chose these slightly recognizable faces. They are all early adopters and trend setters and what better way to get customers in the store than suggesting that you too could be a trend setter?

My first thought for the campus store was how about bringing this concept to the campus community? Find some early adopter trendite student browsing the aisles of your store this fall. Offer em a chance of Campus fame and fortune and before they change their mind dress them up in some new campus wear and letting them loose with the campus photographer.

You’re very own campus ad focusing on your store’s mix and match selection, individual expression and recognizable campus faces.

Someone should try this – At least to prove me wrong.

Mark Patten

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Fun Time Saver for Rush

Just in case you need something to help save some time during Rush...or just a quick laugh.

--The Retail Muse

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summer, Festivals, and Clever Ideas

I just love festivals--music, art, and food festivals to be specific.

So summer is a wonderful time for me. Many Saturdays are spent wandering up and down canopied aisles at one of the hundreds of community festivals that pop up during the few warms months in Cleveland like dandilions in my lawn.

And, as usual, I picked up some interesting product and display ideas that I thought worthy of sharing with you. The following are from a local arts and music festival held a few weeks ago.

Local retailer Luxe Goods ( offers jewelry and other cool accessories for hip chicks. The purse (left) is made out of clear plastic with beer bottle carriers cut up and used as the artwork. They also had the clever earring displays (right) made out of old LPs. The challenge would be to find LPs!

A little further down and I found another clever jewelry fixture. The natural wood stump display (left) really accentuated the artisan's wood-bead jewelry nicely.

And another artisan had some unique window vases (right) that I could see selling nicely to female resident hall students and sorority house residents.

Finally, Mary Juhasz, of burnin beads/artglass jewelry ( had some fun little pins. The GrumBuster (below) would surely be a great seller during mid-terms, finals, and other times in students' lives!

I'm sure you check out similar events in your own area. What a fun way to gain new ideas and discuss potential partnerships with local artists and others for unique new products.

Sadly, summer is quickly coming to a close. I have not hit near as many festivals this year as I'd like. I do have an important one coming up this weekend. The Burning River Festival is a put on by Cleveland's very own Great Lakes Brewery and is a full day of beer tasting and socializing.

Okay, perhaps not the best place to get ideas for college stores, but I'll let you know if I find anything!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Mass Market of One

"Mass customization"

This is not a new term or idea to anyone that has been following retail trends for the last decade or created their personal, customized tennis shoe, neck tie, rugby shirt, automobile, ....

Our customers a now accustomed to being able to make their own version of just about anything (known to some trend-watchers as "customer co-creation"). But how do college stores keep up with that kind of expectation?

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Check out to learn how you can create your own custom products in minutes and order without any minimum quantity.

Why, you could use this to get those 6 imprinted tees that the "Men's League of Chess and Scuba Affectionados" wants. ;-)

--The Retail Muse