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#3.05: The "Bluefly Way" Issue

Designer clothing outlet has proven that a web merchant can hold its own against established clicks-and-bricks competitors with creative, smart marketing.  This issue features our favorite tricks from their playbook.

1> Every Employee Is A Salesperson
2> Online Shopping With Offline Perks
3> Save Time — Personalize
4> What Are You Paying To Make A Sale?

1> Every Employee Is A Salesperson

Next time you meet a Bluefly employee, you’re going to get a little bonus. Check out the back of his or her business card — odds are you’ll see a little sticker offering a 10% or 20% discount on your next purchase.

Think about it — every box of business cards represents 1,000 chances to turn a casual business contact into a new customer, reinforced by the power of a face-to-face meeting. Don’t be surprised if the company’s CEO also stuffs a few gift certificates in your hand next time you see him at a trade show. Old-fashioned face-to-face meetings are still where the best relationships are created.

THE LESSON: Marketing doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated — just don’t miss those simple opportunities to make a sale. Get a new customer any way you can.

2> Online Shopping With Offline Perks

Everyone likes going to a fancy store and leaving with a fancy, useful shopping bag — and the retailers love it when you reuse the bag, walking down the street with their logo prominently displayed. When you order from Bluefly, you’ll be surprised to find more than the usual Styrofoam pellets in the box. You get a high-quality shopping bag, covered in the distinctive Bluefly look.

Customers are surprised, pleased — and they remember that Bluefly is a “real” store, not just a web site. And the free post-sale advertising is great for Bluefly.

THE LESSON: Those extra details go a long way toward positioning your company. Small gestures can significantly change how your company is perceived.

3> Help Your Customers Find What They Want

Think about this: When you’re looking at a clothing catalog, you don’t really care about things that aren’t in your size. This is even more important with a site like Bluefly, where they offer unique designer items that may not be available in your size. So they added a “My Catalog” function, which lets each shopper enter his or her clothing sizes. When you get to the web site, you only see the selections that are available in your size.

You can even narrow it by designer. It saves time for shoppers and makes it much more likely that they will see that special “must-buy” item hidden in the thousands of other product offerings. It’s as powerful as having a personal shopper pick out your clothes for you.

THE LESSON: People shop the web for convenience. Make it as convenient as possible and they will shop more.

4> What Are You Paying To Make A Sale?

Sometimes it costs more to acquire a customer than they  are ever going to give back to you in sales. The fact  that some customers are money-losers has been one of the  hardest things for dotcom CEOs to understand. Bluefly has done an astonishing job of reducing their cost of customer acquisition. According to reports in DM News, Bluefly has dropped those costs from more than $200 to  less than $10 per customer. That puts them well under  the average for offline marketers. How did they do it?  With a company-wide focus on customers, combined with the  innovative tactics we described above.

The Lesson: The web was made for low-cost marketing.  You should be able to get a customer for less than your offline competitors. If you can’t, start thinking creatively.

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