How Office Depot and Poppin Made Back to School Cooler With Content, Community and Deals
Poppin Activates Millennials to Spread the Word
Partnering with the latest and greatest boy band isn't the right option for every brand. While online office supplies retailer Poppin has already snagged major distribution deals with Staples and Canadian retailer Indigo, the startup approached its first back-to-school season with a laser-focused strategy. Poppin leveraged content, community and deals in a completely fresh way to creatively target college students with its originally designed and colorful line of products.
Poppin Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Ranford is testing out student ambassador programs and on-campus pop-up shops that display Poppin's visually appealing products. "We'll geo-target the areas where our on-campus programs are to activate the communities from a social content and digital advertising standpoint," Ranford says.
Furthermore, on-campus shoppers will be incented to generate their own content, sharing images of their Poppin purchases with their social networks to earn a free gift. "Our incentivized sharing program will help Poppin gain viral traction amongst millennials, arguably the most influential community of social networkers," adds Ranford.
"As for deals, a big priority at Poppin is not diluting the brand with heavy discounts. We don't want to be another retailer that comes out with 50 percent off this and 60 percent off that," Ranford explains. When running an offer-driven customer acquisition campaign, Poppin prefers to add value to the shopping experience by offering a gift with purchase. This strategy helps drive repeat purchases as it exposes consumers to new product categories. It's proving effective with both students and savvy moms. "Recently, we did an email campaign with three threshold-triggered offers: free pens, a free notebook or, a pretty cool thing for college kids, a free iPhone amplifier."
In addition to on-campus activations, Poppin has an integrated marketing strategy in play that includes targeted digital display, search engine marketing, PR, email, social media, print advertising and blogger network activations. Ranford has three key suggestions for marketers:
- Be ready to engage your target customers on an ongoing basis. While we're in peak shopping season — back to school — communicating with these shoppers year-round will drive repeat purchases and make our brand top of mind next year.
- Encourage customers to express their personal brand preference within social communities.
- Establish strategic partnerships to reach your target demographic. For example, Poppin has partnered with BookRenter.com to raise brand awareness amongst its 100,000-plus student customers.
Rusty Taragan is the president of MyPoints, an online loyalty shopping program.