Build-A-Bear does it again. I know these guys aren’t the only ones doing an effective job of communicating with their customers, regardless of channel (or “screen”), but, it’s worth pointing out, not only when (and how) they use those different channels – the end goal can’t be overlooked amidst the channel tactics: developing meaningful relationships with their customers. They seem to be honed in on what they’re trying to do with their customers vs. what they’re trying to do with their brand. Big distinction and something that I think a lot of brands can learn from. I think, generally speaking, brands get the concept and even strive for this more often than not. It’s about actually doing, making decisions based on what is best for the customer vs. what is best for the brand. They do go hand in hand but in order to do what’s best for the customer, I believe brands have to have a solid understanding of their story, their promise, their value to the customers (even world) – this frees them from doing things just for the sake of doing things. In this position, brands are purposeful and everything they do has meaning. It moves the needle.
So, it was of no surprise when my daughter received a special “gift” in the mail yesterday from Build-A-Bear.
This is right on so many levels.
1. Recognition – by simply saying “Happy Birthday”, BAB is saying, “you’re important to us and we’re thinking about you.” They’ve got this system down so right now, we’re technically important to a computer, but I guarantee you, as soon as we walk in the store with this, we’re going to get showered with the most welcoming and genuine “Happy Birthdays” outside of our family. And to have hooks in place, behind the scenes, to communicate with customers at appropriate times (like birthdays) is just another smart, meaningful, easy way to communicate and build the relationship.
2. Reward – it’s small (only $5.00), but it drives us into the store. Knowing my wife, our daughter will get an accessory with this gift instead of a bear, but in the end, that doesn’t matter as much as the complete impact that this one touch point will have on us. The card is only part of this touch point. The action that we take as a result of getting the card is the other part of the touch point. It’s not without challenge getting customers to do what you want them to do. Reward, even a small one, is a great way to entice them and move them along the relationship path.
3. Relationship – it’s an idealistic way of looking at the world of marketing and communications, but I think there’s 1 easy question for brands to always ask that will steer them in the right direction – “is this going to positively impact our relationship with our customers?” It’s certainly complicated in the world of ROI and KPI’s and budgets and the ever-evolving media landscape, but does it have to be? Build-A-Bear is in the relationship business, literally, and this is probably a huge factor in driving decisions like this.
In addition, they’re also making a concerted effort to drive us even deeper than in store. They’re complimenting the offline experience (card to store) with an even richer online experience (Build-A-Bearville).
This right here is something that I want to focus more on in this forum as we go into the 2nd half of the year – the offline to the online and vice versa. The true power that I see with OOH, interactive out-of-home specifically, is how it can be an even greater bridge between the offline and the online. I’ve talked a lot about enabling technologies that allow people to take something offline and have an online experience, thus experiencing the brand on a deeper level. There are many ways for brands to do this and using the “OOH” channel is one of them. Many brands are doing this. I’m on a hunt for those brands.
But for now, thank you Build-A-Bear for being one of these brands, and on a personal level, this relationship is becoming meaningful, not only with me, but with my daughter, and we’re starting to become loyal. Which is the whole point. :)