Two buzzwords in the marketing world today are DIGITAL and CONTENT. And while I whole-heartedly agree they are essential to a good marketing strategy, there’s still power and importance in tangible marketing. What is tangible marketing? In a nutshell, it’s the use of physical objects to communicate a message or promote a product or service. It can be as simple as handing out flyers on the street or as elaborate as setting up a giant billboard in the middle of the city.
What Are the Benefits of Tangible Marketing?
There are several reasons why tangible marketing is such an effective tool. First, it grabs people’s attention. We live in a world where most of our communication is digital, so when we see something physical, it stands out. Second, it creates a connection between the customer and the brand. By giving people a physical object to interact with, you create an opportunity for them to learn more about your company and what it represents. Finally, it helps people remember your brand. Studies have shown that when people interact with a physical object, they’re more likely to remember the message or product it promotes.
Much to my husband’s dismay, I tend to keep creative direct mail pieces that stand out. I also keep catalogues, promo items, or anything else that’s branded and does a good job of relaying an important company message.
For the past couple of months, I kept 5 tangible marketing materials from companies that really understood the power of their brand being held in consumers’ hands. Below, I outline each item and why it’s impactful.
5 Tangible Marketing Examples & Why They Work
1. TD Bank’s Tree Kit
The tagline on the cup is “Help green where you live.” For this piece of tangible marketing, TD promises they will plant a tree for every person who takes a tree kit. This is simply brilliant because it shows that TD really cares about the community and taps into consumers who are eco-conscious.
Not to mention, TD’s brand color is green, so the tree kit is right in line with their brand identity and complimentary for their logo. If my memory serves me right, TD Bank handed this out around Earth Day last year, so its relevance is also on point.
2. Wegmans’ Tastes of Asia, Mexico, & Italy Recipe Book/Magazine
Wegmans sends all of their club members recipe books for free each quarter. This is a great content marketing strategy for both people who love to cook and those who may not. Although I am really the latter, let’s pretend I love to cook. I’m excited because there are a host of recipes at my disposal. If I don’t love to cook (that would be me), well maybe I’ll try it because the recipes are literally at my fingertips and free.
The brilliance of this marketing campaign is that the company uses mostly Wegmans ingredients in their recipe book. Now, when I go shopping at Wegmans, I don’t need to think about anything. I can literally match the picture in the book to the item on the shelf and keep moving.
Another reason this free recipe book works well is that the price of the book is included on the top right of the magazine cover. This lets customers know that if they bought the recipe “magazine” in the store, they would have had to pay for it. Most, if not all consumers, enjoy receiving free items that cost money in store.
3. MailChimp’s Holiday Socks
Not only does MailChimp understand marketing — specifically email marketing — best practices, they also know the importance of tangible marketing. During the holiday season, MailChimp sends their users an email with the subject line, “A Holiday Gift for You.” And the copy, “The holidays are a great time to reflect on your successes this year and thank the folks who helped you get here. Keeping with the holiday spirit, we’d like to do just that. … in December we’ll send you custom socks from MailChimp and gifts from our partners. Thanks, and happy holidays!
Most brands thank their consumers during the holidays with a card or an email, but stepping up the “thank you” to a tangible present that makes consumers feel appreciated is a smart idea (if it’s economically feasible.) Plus, it’s a fantastic way to keep the brand top-of-mind; each time a customer wears his/her socks, the MailChimp monkey is front and center.
4. Bloomingdale’s Only Ours Tag
To showcase the exclusivity of merchandise that you can only find at Bloomies, Bloomingdale’s created adorable clothing tags with creativity and flair. One side of the tag looks like food nutrition facts but instead of fat, protein, etc, they use style, wit, It-factor, Je Ne Sais Quoi, among others. They incorporate the hashtag #100percentbloomies, and even use a play on the percentages by saying, “Percent daily is based on an extremely fashionable wardrobe. Your daily value may be higher or lower based on your closet space.”
While the message in the tag may be overlooked by some, it’s really a fun way for the Bloomingdale’s brand to show some personality and ensure customers know when something is exclusive to and can only be found there.
5. Anthropologie’s Gifts 2015 Catalogue
Tons of brands mail holiday catalogues to their customers. It’s par for the course. To stand out from the rest of the competition, Anthropologie included tabbed stickers that give hints to your loved ones. The tabs say things like, “Love you. (Also love this)” and “Pretty please xoxo” and “DIBS!” You get the picture. Now the recipient becomes invested and tabs the things she likes, and the family member gets clued in to which sweater/necklace/dress her little heart desires.
While this is endearing for the brand, it also works incredibly well for those family members (boyfriends? husbands, grandma?) who have no clue what their loved one wants. The page of tabbed stickers also drives you to their online gift list, if that’s how you’d like to tip off your family members.
All of these examples show that marketing outside of the digital world is still important. People love to interact with brands that show companies’ personalities in consistent ways throughout the user experience. Examples like TD Bank and Bloomingdale’s may not drive direct sales, but instead build the relationship with current users. Examples like Wegmans and Anthropologie result in revenue from their smart marketing. And the MailChimp example shows that a B2B marketing campaign can still be tangible and if the brand desires, a whole lot of fun.
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