Style of Business - Page 17

TOMS Shoes; a Marketing Plan with Meaningful Donations + Specific Social Interest Targets


Addressing a Need

The main staple of promise and business that launched TOMS; giving to someone in need a pair of shoes for every consumer pair purchased. There are more than 75 shoe companies that partnered up with the manufacturer to help people in need and it doesn’t stop there; the same partners oversee other issues like vocational training, school support, and youth leadership. The shoes given are a canvas black slip on modeled for comfortable distance or village walking and play, with reputable durability. Nations such as Bangladesh, Belize, Kenya, Mexico, and Uganda are some of the receivers of the shoes.


The videos TOMS uses are very engaging and have earthy textures, childlike feeling with acoustic tones. In one video a couple meets each other while each wearing the brand, and only their feet are shown throughout, tapping each other and scooting closer together on a bench. Believe it or not, this almost brings into play the same dynamic that made the “Mad Men” TV show so successful. The video is a little bit timeless, and makes the consumer drift mentally to an era perhaps without as much technology and distraction. The way it’s done is by focusing on the feet only, and creating an audience for one part of their branding in which the couple meet at a vintage store. This is very important to win over the customer who would be concerned about the foreign aid programs of TOMS; one who is not consumed with mass materialism.

Internet Marketing Strategies

TOMS is one brand that really used Pinterest to their advantage as well. Doing this a step above the rest is critical, in the beginning if you just roll out a strategy quickly in order to do something, all hope and prospective sales may be lost. What TOMS did is encourage customers on Pinterest to show pictures of their pairs of the shoes, and discuss and suggest cool places to wear and place the shoes. As with YouTube and video comments, the conversations that happen here are very valuable; and the goal can be reached of eventually getting into the customer’s subconscious and reminding them they need to buy another pair. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of the company decided to start the venture after an eye opening trip to Argentina, where he saw too many shoeless for his own comfort. After a very successful batch, he sold his driver’s education company to fund the rest of the venture.

Traditional Marketing

Highlights of TOMS marketing strategy were going to university campuses to promote the line, and an AT&T commercial that filmed a shoe drop in Uruguay, therefore painting the company as a Robin Hood of sorts in a dismally capitalistic world. It doesn’t matter that TOMS shoes are a for profit venture, the fact remains, there is a mission to give shoes to those in need and its always going to lure future peace corps folks, liberal missionaries, and tree planting types globally. Some of these individuals need more than a gentle push to go out and buy a product but when you look at entities like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, the granola marketing strategies are very diverse, and they do win people over.

Many of these buyers are college educated, giving them more money for the product of TOMS as well. Setting up something like partners that will give away shoes when you sell a pair will not happen overnight. There are so many ways to give these consumers opportunities to help those in need. TOMS has proven this, and has also reaped the hard earned fruits for 7 years now.

How to Handle Irate Customers; a Necessary Evil of Some Entrepreneur Startups

angry There are some forms of startup businesses where you have next to no customer service obligations. Those are the kinds in which perhaps you just sell one product, and it is such a simple, straightforward product that when the customer whips out their debit card, they know exactly what they are getting, and can simply return it for a refund if they don’t like it. You can streamline and automate these types of product sales, and also outsource customer service.

For a fee there are many companies that’ll answer the calls for you, and hear complaints or suggestions. This would be ideal, but the reason we’re writing today’s article is that in the early stages or with certain other services, the irate customer may find his way… TO YOU!

Sometimes it is after they ‘ve talked to everyone else. Sometimes if you are a restaurant owner, it is face to face, after a bad dining experience. And if you are someone like an artist or blog writer, you may get someone who all of a sudden has time on their hands to give you bad reviews and spread mean stories of the worst kind. If you encounter a dissatisfied customer on the phone, there are a couple of things you can do. Assuming that you are at the top of the chain, the best approach is to apologize once or twice and then offer a solution. If you are not in a position where you are forced to bend over backwards, believe it or not, we are going to go against corporate mantra here. Offer to provide a re-shipment or refund.

When you are working for someone else, they may want you to bend over backwards and listen to long stories of why someone doesn’t like your product. In this situation, as a new business owner you must be willing to compromise. If the customer does not respond to your solution and keeps going on and on about why they did not like the product, steer them in another direction by saying, “Yes, I understand how should we fix this?”

By being your own boss, you should want to give stellar customer service, but the customer on the line really should not be allowed to belittle you. Remember, you went into business for yourself to choose who you wanted to do business with. If at that point the customer accuses you of being unsympathetic, remind them you apologized and ask once again how to fix it. I know it sounds a little curt, but it works.

When face to face, like a restaurant, surf shop, or ice cream store, what really stinks is that the customer can really use the element of surprise to their advantage. When you are working along and in your groove, it is really bad to just have someone sneak up on you with a bellowing, unhappy voice. There is one thing to do here that half of business owners never achieve, and it is because it is very difficult. That is to immediately smile. It is really waging warfare against the customer; it is very hard to keep raising your voice when someone is swearing at you. Some people will, but it gets you a little advantage and points right out of the gate. At that point, you are using the same strategy as on the phone, assuming you are all the way up the chain of command.

Then of course folks can write bad reviews your business or service. This can sometimes take a lot of time to fix. A lot of forums give you as the proprietor the chance to come and defend yourself. Always be graceful, and to the point. The biggest mistake business owners make is long winded, explanations of how the customer was the worst they encountered, etc. what you can do is be very simple and say, “Sorry you had a bad experience, in this line of business we do get a mix of satisfaction levels and always strive to receive the highest”. You will feel like it is not much of recourse, but at that point, you have to let the internet wars take their toll, and some will come to your business, some won’t. Some religiously read these reviews, and some don’t. Amazon has large sections and there are competitors who may even hire people to write bad reviews about your company.

At this point, the only thing to do is focus on the quality of service or craftsmanship and cross your fingers. Even though it is sometimes a monopoly, keep in mind your local cable company probably gets a lot of complaints and customers find their way to the sign-up form! Win some and lose some; these are at least some tips to help you keep your cool… while running your brand new baby startup.

Brand Building, A Motivational Outlook


I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily as good for the gander. In an ever-changing world full of uncertainty and evolution, the one-size fits all theory, simply doesn’t exist. And yet, you can apply the same concepts and ideas as the next person however, it’s the individuality behind that idea that ultimately prevails. I just recently had a conversation with a great friend of mine who insisted, “no one can do it like you do it,” and this is especially true. And the same phrase needs to auto repeat in your mind when brand building. Yes, the competition is always fierce and will stay that way but a couple things to remember: 1. be unique, the competition is not you (vice versa) 2. the competition doesn’t have your game plan, strategies, capabilities, connections or drive. So forget playing the comparison game and continue right along. In the end, the sole purpose of building a brand is to stand somewhere away from those areas already flooded with the same type of people, and their ideas.

Great Brand Awareness Compels Consumer Spending

What we saw today with Apple’s iPhone 5 launch is proof that brand awareness is the key component to a successful brand. Noticed I mentioned great in this blog title due to the simple fact that all brands are not created equal and some brands are miles away from connecting with a consumer who is interested in their product.

Can you name at least five other brands that have had people camped outside their stores awaiting their product days in advance? I’d have to think a minute but I’m willing to bet, aside from the retail stores which really don’t count there’s not many to name.

Great brand awareness starts with introducing a product or service that invokes thought or feeling. It puts the consumer in a certain mood. And when their happy about what they’ve purchased it avails the opportunity to further sell other products and services. I believe it’s easier to upsell an existing customer than it is to sell to a new customer. Mainly due to the existing relationship you have which favors a more inviting opportunity to babble about other things you’re able to offer.

It’s not like anyone is surprised at Apple’s success with the iPhone 5 when you take into account their track record. However, there’s always something to take away from their Launch events.

The biggest branding lessons I’ve captured from Apple are:

1. Make a personal connection with the consumer. Identify how you can make their experiences better in your industry/field. It’s better to make a personal connection than treating them as receipt numbers. By the way, did you notice how happy those people were when they finally got their iPhone 5?

2. Forget the competition. As Apple continues to dominate Samsung it’s evident Samsung’s market share doesn’t effect Apple. They still have the upper hand. They follow their own blueprint. They run their own playbook. Sure, competition will come out of the woodwork but without your execution, they can forget it!

3. Go with what you know. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone stick with what works or has worked for you. Wearing too many hats confuses people and distracts from what you’re truly best at. Apple’s focus is technology-based and they’ve proved its what they’re best out. Not sure how I’d feel about Apple Clothing!? Naahh.

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