Mall Marketing Through Social Media Platform
Mall marketing is a tricky process. The mall management’s budget is spending to promote a diverse range of stores without over-focusing on just a few at the expense of other. The mall tenants pay the mall’s high rent because it is a convenient place to attract consumers, and the high public awareness draws in a wide range of consumers that many merchants can sell to. However, the traditional advertising of print media and television are not effective in communicating variety.
Rather than trying to communicate a variety of offerings, most mall management brand their property as a destination such as Towne Center (replacing town square) or Galleria (signaling a fashion boutique), rather than a collection of stores. This type of destination promotion consists of a central attraction or an activity-based feature. The central attraction model has an indoor area dedicated a child’s activity area, such as a merry-go-round, ice rink, or play area. Some of the mega mall has indoor roller coasters and more teenager appropriate diversions. The activity-based feature is more seasonal, such as Easter or Christmas photo stage where children can get their picture taken with a large bunny or Santa Clause. Some mall management goes even further in combining the destination and activity promotion into an unique space. Many malls utilize their spacious interior and temperature controlled environment to enhance the retail space as a walking malls, with mileage markers and walker friendly amenities. This model is especially in area with extreme weather conditions. (I walked through quite a few walking malls in Wisconsin during the winter.)
Like most businesses that have mastered mass communication such as print media, TV and radio, malls were slow to embrace the Internet. This is not the management’s fault but that of the technology. Most early Internet technologies were all mall killers; online storefront such as Amazon.com, price comparison sites and auction sites like Ebay.com. At the beginning of the Internet revolution, it was tough for the mall to utilize anything except the cumbersome email system. Most malls adopted the emails and only used it sporadically. Anchor stores such as the upscale department stores usually have more effective use of email to do season and sales promotion but the smaller stores were left out of this technology because of the initial cost.
With the evolution of Internet based communication technology, the Web 2.0 created a more personal way to connect people with ideas, and other people. The individualistic technology lets people effortlessly connect with other people through social network on a digital platform such as Myspace.com and Facebook.com. This allowed brand to engage people and allow people to engage each other. This also let people who are fanatical about the brand to become brand advocates.
Social Media for Recession
Marketing and promotion have always been the lifeblood of a mall. In this tough economy, most shops are feeling the strain and most mall managers are trying to drive even more traffic to the mall. Because people are spending less, mall management needs to drive greater number of visitors in order to help their tenants stay financially viable.
Pulling customers in is only the first step in the process. Once they are in, mall managers also have to work with the merchant to help consumer find what they want faster and more efficient. Often time, this involves the use of “insider info.” These are timely info about specials, giveaway, and limited time offer, and overstock items. Some are as mundane (and timely) as when the photo op stage has a half an hour empty slot that someone can bring their kids to. The old way was to put up fliers, poster boards, and help desk. The new social medial is rapidly replacing these passive efforts.
Mall management companies are finding social media to be effective during this recession as marketing and promotion tool. Facebook and Twitter are much cheaper to setup and use than the traditional corporate email system. The cost advantage comes in several factors. The management company’s using a third party service, so they don’t have to worry about hardware and technical cost. The messages are short, so they can generated more messages, at lower cost, and more important, with twitter’s hashmark system, all the mall tenants can participate in sending out their own message. This creates a network that all the mall tenants can use and does not require a dedicate staff’s time to manage. It allows consumer to do their work for them.
Does it really work?
While there are no structured data, a recent study shows that company that include social media as part of their over al marketing program do better. Last year, Dell made $3 million dollar off their twitter feed program. This really should not surprise anyone. The more advertising you do, the more sales you get. Adding the twitter channel just open Dell up to another market for consumer, and communicate with certain potential customers in a format that they prefer. Convenient and a new market, of course it would increase sales.
It might also work on two different factors; portability and immediacy.
With the traditional print media, there is a long delay between when the company decides on the promotion to when the customer gets the info. Printing and mailing all slow the process down. In addition, the sheer volume of advertising that an average American gets will make sure very few are actually read.
Enters the powerful cell phone with texting and Internet capability.
Most social media systems are designed with consumer portability in mind. Twitter is a hybrid of an email list and cell phone texting. It allows people to receive and send ‘tweets’ (small message) that can be address to another email list from their cell phone. People can then receive it as a text on cell phone or their computer. This allows for immediate information wherever people are. This, in effect, turns every cell phone into an email sending and receiving device, and let’s people to direct message which everyway they need to. This is the power of social media.
Imagine you are driving home and your cell phone displays the following tweets;
Embrace the cause. Join payless as we take steps to fight breast cancer. Buy a bracelet today for ONLY $2 until the end of October.
3:21 PM Oct 19th from web
Southwest General Hospital invites you to a free seminar addressing breast health issues on Oct.10 at SouthParkMall between Sears & Bealls.
1:43 PM Oct 9th from web
Come join Radio Disney to celebrate National Family Health & Fitness Day this Saturday from Noon – 3pm. Music, Games, Prizes . . . all FREE!
12:31 PM Sep 22nd from web
GameStop is releasing The Beatles Rockband on tonight at Midnight! For more details, call us at (210) 923-5548.
12:37 PM Sep 8th from web
(All tweets taken from #southparkmallSA)
As a consumer, you can decide, based on these activities, if you want to keep driving home or drive to the mall. If you are already at the mall, you can look for events and sales that meets your interest.
Immediate useful. Portably convenient.
And the mall managers wish you would sign up.
(To be continued…)