The Coachella Music Festival and Stella & Dot Jewelry are two examples of using post-purchase packaging to help deliver a great customer experience.
Building “brand strength” or awareness, happens before the sale – and after. Most businesses focus their marketing efforts on getting customers “in the door” (or on the website) and their sales efforts on closing: getting a buyer to commit. And once a sale is made, the transaction is concluded.
For many businesses, the packaging of their product is part of the product – and what gets many customers to buy: imagine a Crown Royal bottle without its purple and gold bag or a Fossil watch without a retro-looking tin case. You buy the product but you keep the packaging – it serves as an ongoing reminder about your purchase. Some companies have been known to give out printed wristbands to customers buying their products. This is a way of allowing people to have a reminder of their purchase, as well as continuing your advertising if they decide to wear the promotional product.
But some companies take their packaging – and marketing — a step further: a customer may have already bought but is still in for a treat. The purchase is delivered in a package that continues the customer experience – and the brand is strengthened because of it. Businesses that do this are invested in the customer experience – an interaction that satisfies after the initial purchase – and may help pave the way for future transactions. I recently had two firsthand experiences with an after-market surprise: Coachella tickets and Stella & Dot Jewelry.
Coachella is an annual two-weekend music festival held in Indio, CA. The festival features contemporary musical acts of several genres: rock, indie, hip-hop and electronic. This year’s headliners are The Black Keys, Radiohead, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg; over 100 acts total will perform. The face value of tickets is about $300. for one weekend. Over 100,000 tickets were available and they were sold out in three hours.
One of the best parts of the whole show happens way before the festival. It’s the arrival of the ticket package. No simply sticking passes in the mail. Coachella sends an elaborately designed and constructed parcel that includes a photo-wrapped “gift” box filled with a smaller box to hold the passes, a CD-sized “Welcome Guide” with everything you need to know to maximize your Coachella experience (from driving, parking, shuttle and camping directions to the music line up and all social media and mobile apps you’ll need to get –and stay – connected). Also included is a small die-cut sleeve that houses photo-backed calendar cards. When you slide these into the easel-backed sleeve, you have a monthly calendar. Turn them all over and the result is a mosaic-like Coachella poster. The box also includes a window decal and my favorite – the “Build a Coachella Diorama.” One printed sheet has perforated photos of musical stages, palm trees, sculptures and tents – you cut them all out and insert them into the other “green grass” sheet. There are creative suggestions like: include a photo of yourself and friends in the diorama or make a diorama video. You’re encouraged to “make believe you are at Coachella before and after the show.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving – and marketing.
Click Coachella 2012 Wristband Unboxing if video doesn’t play.
The ticket package was designed by Dennis Gomez and Michael Rocchio from 1424 Studios, as was last year’s. When I spoke to Mike in 2011 about the 2011 Coachella ticket package, he talked about how they, along with Coachella founder, Paul Tollet, had convinced the CEO that it was important, especially to the fans, to create an entire experience. And the ticket packaging was a big part of that. The fans love it; they post online videos and Instagram photos showing the opening of their UPS ticket packages; they’ve said it makes them feel like VIPs (without paying VIP ticket prices). Mike said the cost of each ticket package was about $3.75 each. Times 100,000 tickets, that’s almost $400,000 – spent when customers have already bought. But it works – and it is all part of the experience. The customers keep coming back.
Stella & Dot Jewelry sells through in-home trunk parties (similar to Tupperware or Pampered Chef) and has adopted an “after-the-fact” marketing strategy as well. A couple of months ago, I hosted one of their parties – and bought some of their jewelry which was shipped to me about a week after the party. My two items each came in their own printed, constructed gift boxes which were each inside another “slip case.” Each box had a printed message like “Hello gorgeous” or “You look absolutely gorgeous.” Cute. The cardboard shipping box was custom printed on the inside – with a pattern complimentary to the other Stella & Dot pieces. Even the “bubble air cushions” carry the Stella & Dot logo. An imprinted “thank you” note was included. There’s a “feel good” experience when you get your shipment — you may have purchased it yourself but it feels like a gift. The customer gets something beyond their original purchase and the company makes a strong marketing impression. It’s not inexpensive to add this extra care; but it can pay off handsomely in repeat business.
Do you cultivate your customer’s experience? What can your company deliver – after the sales transaction — that will make your customers come back for more?
Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based small business marketing, branding, social media and content marketing consultant. Could you use some help improving your customer’s experience? Click to find out more about Martha Spelman. If you don’t subscribe already, please sign up for Martha’s Blog: Marketing Musings and Tips du Jour.