Posts Tagged: Websites

Mar 11

The Secret Code is….Hidden Promotions

When the word ‘promotion’ comes up in the context of retail stores,  large signs or banners describing a firm’s next big deal comes to mind. “Get some gear! 40% of everything” or ” 2 for 1 on all merchandise” and the list goes on. When you go to the mall or shop online you’re often inundated with different sales and offers. So much so that it sometimes seems like some stores are having sales every day. These kind of promotions are aimed to get the most attention and hopefully drive the most traffic and as a result need to be as obvious as possible. But what if retail promotions were more covert? Instead of being open to everyone  it becomes something that is found or stumbled upon?

At some restaurants you can find a ‘secret menu‘ where there are  items that they don’t advertise but if you’re in the know will make for you anyways. Its a bit like a secret club where customers get something that publicly no body knows about and as a practice is something that ( to my knowledge) hasn’t been really explored in retail as much.

Recently I came across an unadvertised discount from the GAP that spurred my interest in secret promotions. Its  since been taken down from this marginally legit sounding page.  I had come across this link on a Reddit sub forum from someone who had came across it somewhere else. It asked for my cell number and in exchange sent me a discount code to be used at checkout. With some hesitance I tried it out as the site didn’t seem to have much relation to the GAP other than having its logo. Had I not trusted my source for the link I would have passed on it thinking it was a phishing attempt. It did end up working even though not even the employees had much of a clue about it having just come across it once before.

How is a promotion like this useful? Well in my case it gave me a feeling of exclusiveness (mouhaha! I’m one of the few!) and it brought me into a store I don’t often place at the top of my shopping list. With this promotion being so out of the ordinary it encouraged me to research further and with no promotion time span given it placed pressure on me to use this sooner rather than later.

Looking beyond myself as the customer, I estimate the benefits of this approach would be even further expanded when an influencer or content creator comes across this type of content. By seeing this ‘hidden’ content they have the ability to share and build further credibility with their audience. As a result I would presume a two fold result: this person would have a greater affinity for the company (Hey this company had awesome content that I could share with my following. I like them!) and there would be the seeding of this content to this person’s trusting followers who will be more likely to go through with a  purchase.

So…. how is this type of promotion or even campaign implemented?  That’s probably the harder part. Does the firm put up a site and just wait for people to come across it? Should content be seeded through chosen users or be  placed on specific sites? As interesting as this idea is implementing it is the much more difficult part and needs to be explored further. But looking at this just as a concept there may be opportunity in this rather than continually   building larger advertisements to get into the faces of the company’s potential customers.


As always feel free to contact me at either @kevrichard on twitter or


*A note about this post. I’m not in anyway trying to say that lying or being not upfront with your customers can be used as a tactic. Obviously lying  equals angry customers which goes on to decreased sales. I mean to discuss the use of content delivery strategies that are outside of a firm’s owned properties (website, Facebook page, store front).

May 09

Della: A Missed Opportunity

As reported by Engadget Dell has decided to dramatically change its recently posted Della Micro site after only 10 days of being online.  Designed as a site  to communicate with women offering them user tips and product suggestions Dell looked to create an environment that was welcoming and knowledgeable to the computing needs of this customer segment.

Interesting thinking but instead the project almost immediately blew up in their face. The initial content such as the tips and tricks can be found here and here but to give a brief discussion it spoke about things such as finding recipes on the net, counting calories and as we know every woman’s favorite color PINK (LIKE OMG!) . Instead of attracting women they were feeling put off and they were letting their voices heard online:

From their facebook page:

Um, some of us ladies were checking out Dells new Della computer section and we think it is condescending of you to make a different one for women as though we are not as smart as men when it comes to computers??” – Wynter Gentry Nash

….if it wasn’t for the tech tips section of the site, I wouldn’t be offended, but all it seems to imply is that women don’t care for anything but cooking and gossiping and looking fashionable with their computer.” Caily Jones as well as on the

On Della site itself:

“..This is  a load of fluff that only serves to provide insight into how Dell perceives my demographic. Essentially, we women will buy anything if it comes in pink and fits in our purse.” User UmmmWhat

Overall Dell took a huge grilling from this audience they wanted to pursue and very smartly made some changes to the site such as updating the tips section and changing the Della name to ” Dell Lifestyle”. In my opinion the site is still a bit fashiony/ultra feminine but its passable.

Now the question is ,isn’t segmenting your market important in marketing?? Absolutely, and if Dell executed the site right it could have been successful but here are a few things that it seems they did wrong:

Stereotyping/Over Segmentation: My initial impression of the Della website was that it targeted women concerned about  fashion and things that are ‘cute’ ( I’m thinking Paris hilton types) it didn’t delve into anything technical and rather focused on the smaller netbooks and that you can have colors on your laptops. Mistake: The majority of women haven’t been locked away and want more from a laptop than just email and facebook.They use it day to day at their work and they blog, make movies etc. They want to know which machine is going to suit the reasons they use their computer.

Women using computers

There are many women who know computers,advertising a pink computer isn't going to work anymore- Photo Via Flickr from TheSeafarer

Created a Man/Woman separation: looking again at the sites lack of any technical topics it didn’t acknowledge that there are  women in the high tech industries. This was definitely an opportunity missed! There are many smart women out there who do tech ( I personally know a few ) but very often anything dealing with computers and things technical like that is seen as an area for men. Highlighting the  successes of women in computers could have not only welcomed women into buying a dell  but it could also left viewers of the site with a feeling of empowerment and wanting to go out and do the same. This also could have been a great opportunity to expand into  mentioning Dell’s other business of computer accessories and products.

I think it was very smart of Dell to have listened to the negative feedback and react as soon as they did, it will definitely cut any negative coverage or drop in sales they would have suffered if it were online any longer. Unfortunately I think they lost out on a great opportunity , and had they been more careful with the execution they could have had a site for audiences to talk about . A website that embraced the needs of women in computing and helped  women be successful with laptops and computers.  In the end of it all  when it comes down to segmentation I think  it comes down to doing the research  but also importantly when you’re online acknowledging all of the audiences that will be viewing your website and not making anyone feel inferior.

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