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#2.01: The “Involve Your Customers” Issue

1 > Be Distinct: Draw them into your Web
2 > Start A Buzz: Get your fans involved in the fun
3 > Make The Sale: Build a process to suit everyone
4 > Check It Out: The reviews are in

1 > Be Distinct: Draw them into your Web

Nike needed a compelling reason to draw shoppers to its Web site. While Nike merchandise is readily available almost everywhere, it’s only at that you can customize the ideal pair of sneakers to be delivered to your doorstep. Visitors to the site can click on a customizable gear option and design just the right look for each part of the sneaker. A picture of the shoe appears on the Web site, reflecting each choice the customer makes, ultimately letting the customer see the finished product before the purchase is completed.

Involving the customer in the design of their own merchandise serves both to increase the likelihood that the purchase will be completed, while offering a unique experience to those visiting Nike’s Web site. You can buy Nike just about anywhere, but it’s only on their site that you can build and then buy.

The lesson: Though you may communicate with customers through a variety of channels, there are ways to make each channel distinct. Give them a unique reason to communicate with you in more ways than one.

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2 > Start a Buzz: Get your fans involved in the fun

In an effort to create more buzz within the movie-going fan base, Sony is promoting the upcoming release of the film “Resident Evil” with an online contest that lets fans compete to design the official movie poster. According to iMarketing News, contestants may visit the movie’s Web site, download a variety of available graphics, and create up to three posters to enter into the competition. The grand prize will include a private screening of the movie in the winner’s hometown and a souvenir copy of the poster. An online, interactive promotion encourages fans to visit your Web site, and gives participants a sense of ownership over a project.

The lesson: Let your fans participate in creating what you’re trying to sell to them, and watch the enthusiasm spark a fire. Offering involvement in the production experience will do wonders to driving interest in the final product.

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3 > Make the Sale: Build a process to suit everyone La-Z-Boy has uncovered the trick that drives traffic both to their Web site and to their dealers’ stores. An online tool lets shoppers select a desired piece of furniture and design the style, type, and color of the fabric to cover it. Upon completing the product a customer can see what it will actually look like, rather than having to imagine the result with a color swatch at an offline store. Once a customer designs the furniture, the item is then shipped to a dealership local to the consumer. When all is said and done, La-Z-Boy has a well-reputed customer service operation, the customer has furniture made to order, and the dealer ultimately earns
the sale. Everyone’s a winner.

The lesson: Consider all the constituents in your selling process. Think about what you can do to offer value to your  customers, while always keeping the middlemen on your side.

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4 > Check it Out: The reviews are in

Even when you can’t make it to the movies, it’s still fun to read the reviews and see what the critics have to say. So why not get some expert opinions on the TV commercials too? A spin off of Advertising Age, lets you watch the commercials that catch your eye, offering “informed analysis about every aspect of the creation and use of television advertising.” In other words, it’s a great place for marketing execs, or anyone interested in TV advertising, to check out what the critics are saying.

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