What ‘High School Musical’ Taught Me About Direct Marketing
By now, most of you know that the Disney Channel juggernaut “High School Musical,” is perhaps the most powerful brand in America right now. Witness the premiere on Aug. 17 of the highly anticipated sequel, “High School Musical 2,” which whipped America’s “tweeners” (kids ages 6 to 14) into a frenzy — and their parents into buying action.
As of this writing, the sequel’s soundtrack has taken over the No. 1 position on iTunes. And of course, my 7-year-old had to have his soundtrack immediately after the movie aired. That means that for the next few months there will be only one CD playing in my car until I want to pull every hair out of my head. Get me some coffee to go with all that saccharine, fast!
In the 24 hours since the show aired, I was coerced into buying the soundtrack and downloading a video game to my cell phone. Oh, and that’s not all. Two weeks ago, I had to get tickets to High School Musical: The Ice Tour. Oh boy!
No doubt, the Disney folks are masters at creating brand extensions via merchandising. They should be; they work off a multitude of products they can use as cross-sell items. From a direct marketing perspective, all these products serve as tools to increase customer lifetime value. And to think Disney discontinued its catalog — go figure.
Nevertheless, catalogers can learn many great lessons from Disney’s brand marketing prowess. Consider these ...
1. Involve consumers with your marketing vehicle. They’ll buy tons of stuff when they’re emotionally invested in your brand. Put another way, if they love it, and you know they love it — if you build it, they will come. Knowing they love it is the key. That takes having your entire organization facing outward and toward the customer.
2. Strike while the iron is hot. Recency almost always is a key predictor of response. Past performance predicts future behavior. When people have just purchased from you and they’re satisfied with their purchase, that’s the time you need to get another catalog (think bounceback), e-mail, postcard or letter in their hands fast.
3. Don’t just cultivate customers, build insanely loyal customers. Remember this: People who buy one time from you are not your customers. They’re trying out your brand only. To get your customers’ loyalty and (hopefully) their eventual advocacy, look at every touchpoint in your company and make sure all are aligned with the singular goal of serving your customers.
4. Don’t just create products you think your customers will love. Build products that your customers will love. Get them involved through research, focus groups and surveys.
Even invite your customers to help you create new products. Then trumpet the heck out of it on your Web site, your catalog and any marketing collateral that fits. If your customers “feel you,” they’ll continue to buy and recommend your products.
And now thanks to the magic of the digital video recorder, I have to watch “High School Musical 2” for the second time this week — ugh! Now that’s good branding.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-302-1719.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.