The Bizz by

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

How to do Better Business: Stellar Graphic Design Caused Massive Boost in Sales of Classic Novel Pride & Prejudice

In marketing, stellar design and great presentation are critical if your goal is to maximize brand awareness and sales, and this point is clearly illustrated with the sales spike in 2009 of the classic, heart-wrenching novel Pride & Prejudice


by Fausto Mendez / photo by New York

    Design and presentation are often overlooked by too many small businesses because it can be costly (if you don’t know how to manage a graphic designer), and many hard-core, data-driven, business managers don’t believe that good design is worth their time and money. Personal opinions aside, it’s hard to argue with hard data, such as sales numbers. 

    In the above graphic, New York magazine put together an insightful bar graph of total sales of Pride & Prejudice at different points in time. For each point in time, Pride features a unique cover design. As you can see, less-exciting covers, such as the 1993’s text-book-looking Pride failed miserably. 

    However, the recent success of the Twilight novel series prompted Pride’s marketing team to design a cover that features a similar attitude as Twilight's cover. Clearly, Twilight's cover designer has a much better understanding of what moves the genre's target audience. The result was a massive spike in sales after the cover launched in 2009.

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Activision’s Brilliant Marketing Strategy on YouTube: Target the Content Creators and Curators


By Fausto Mendez

    Social-media marketing is often perceived as a mysterious and powerful beast, but video game maker Activision doesn’t see it that way. Activision has tamed YouTube for its national and international marketing campaigns, and this is how the company is doing it.

    Though it may seem like YouTube is all about funny animal videos and poorly produced cover songs, the video-centric social network has been a staple in video game culture for about as long as the site’s been around. Passionate gamers know the site for its healthy library of game trailers, homemade walkthroughs (guides), news, commentary, parodies and more. Activision understands this, and the company develops content exclusively for YouTube in order to rouse up passion for new and upcoming games.

    You may be surprised to learn that YouTube viewers watched over double the hours of gaming videos than other types of videos in 2012. In other words, YouTube is one of the industry’s cultural hubs, where gamers of all types and ages unite to enjoy gaming beyond games. As usual, the old saying applies, “go to where your audience is.”

    Ad Age does a great job of breaking down Activision’s entire strategy for YouTube, so I suggest you check out the full article. However, one tactic really stands out. 

Harnessing the Content Creators and Curators

    Prior to major gaming expos, trade shows and premieres, Activision invites some of YouTube’s most popular content creators and curators to real-world presentations, which include the distribution of exclusive information and video assets, such as clips and trailers. Promotional giveaways also play an important role at these events. The YouTube stars are sent home with brag-worthy bags of promotional swag, such as custom shirts, cups, accessories and keychains, which the YouTube stars sometimes give out to their own audiences. As a result, the promotional items are a low-cost and effective way to catalyze buzz about the brand between fans, not just the YouTube stars.

    The exclusive events make it easy for Activision to spread information, hype, trailers and clips on YouTube because the company doesn’t need to directly develop and hold an audience. The content creators and curators have already taken care of that. All Activision has to do is get the right content to the right people, and those “right” people will repackage the content into a form that best suits their audiences. From there, the information will naturally spread throughout Activision’s fan base. Easy, right?

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#MarketingMonday - How Netflix’s Arrested Development Uses Promotional Giveaways to Sell New Episodes


By Fausto Mendez

    The brand-spankin’-new fourth season of the cult TV series Arrested Development hit Netflix at the end of May, and the new episodes are a massive success despite Netflix’s exclusivity. This case study breaks down the show’s powerful marketing tactics, including a wildly successful promotional giveaway.

    Arrested Development isn’t well know for its superb marketing tactics. Actually, it was the lack of effective marketing that lead to the cancellation of the original Fox series, which spanned three seasons. As a result, Netflix’s exclusive fourth season came out fists swinging as it launched a relentless marketing campaign that’s pushing the show to new heights.

Marketing a TV Show that Will Never Be on TV


    Facing an uphill battle - as the new episodes will never hit traditional TV - Netflix’s marketing team studied the forces behind the original show’s cancellation. Taking those lessons into account, the team approached the relaunch with a fresh strategy that remixes high-yield, low-cost tactics to effectively reach the masses from coast to coast.

    The team started by generating basic buzz at all the right web channels: Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and tons of entertainment blogs. You’ve probably even noticed the occasional feature in some mainstream magazines, such as Forbes.

Buzz Isn’t Good Enough. Where’s the Bang?


    With the upcoming release of the fourth season planted in the back of every fan’s head, the next step would be to design some kind of publicity stunt during launch, which should remind discouraged and frustrated fans of their passion for the show.

    See, the problem with Arrested Development’s online marketing strategy is that it works well as long as the user is engaged in those marketing channels, but what happens if the user becomes disinterested in those marketing channels over the months leading up to the premier? Even worse, what if the passionate fans get tired of waiting, and they just stop paying attention or caring? The previous seasons never failed at generating buzz too, but for some reason, they couldn’t actually get the fans to tune into Fox at the right times. 

Listening to Fans via Social Media


    The show’s marketing team dug through their social-media channels to find some of the fans’ favorite recurring jokes, which is how they came up with the perfect giveaway concept: hand out free frozen bananas from a Bluth’s Frozen Bannana stand at major cities around the world. The stand is, of course, a famous and beloved prop in the show, and it’s at the center of some of the show’s jokes and characters. 

    The banana stand visited several cities - even the show’s setting in Newport Beach, CA - just prior to the launch of the new episodes, and it looks like the stunt worked. Netflix hasn’t disclosed subscriber numbers, but shares of Netflix have more than doubled this year so far. 

    Though the giveaway worked well as is, AD’s marketing team could have employed branded promotional giveaways, such as Bluth brand napkins, cups and Popsicle sticks to achieve a greater effect. It would’ve given fans an opportunity to take home limited-edition souvenirs besides the happy memories, and those souvenirs could have boosted views of the new episodes as fans share and discuss the souvenirs with other fans of the show. Still, it’s a great concept, and it certainly worked. Never underestimate the power of a promotional giveaway. 

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How Wendy’s Uses Social Media to Influence (Good) Business Decisions

By Fausto Mendez

    It’s probably safe to say that we haven’t seen everything that #social media can do for businesses. Most brands use it to post company updates and engage customers with sharable content, but Wendy’s is thinking way outside the box for social. And the rest of us should be taking notes.

    Beyond marketing, Wendy’s employs social media to influence important decisions, and it’s becoming a core component of the company’s decision-making process. That’s because effective social-media management involves a ton of listening, so Wendy’s leadership listens to the customer base via Facebook, Twitter and other social channels to find out what motivates them. Then, they act upon the information they gather, according to Brandon Rhoten, director of Digital at the company.

    At his recent BlogWell presentation in New York, Rhoten described Wendy’s fresh, effective approach to social, and we beak down three of his more eye-opening examples below. 

+ Earlier this year, the “pink slime” issue hit the news with full force. Fast food chains, supermarkets and restaurants that sell the cheap, disgusting slime quickly came under public scrutiny. As the beef industry clamored to keep everyone quiet, Wendy’s was more interested in what the company’s fan base had to say about it, and the fans had a lot of negative things to say. As a result, Wendy’s determined that it had to effectively spread the word that it doesn’t serve pink slime, and the company did this successfully through its various channels, including social media.

+ You can say the 1” x 1” real estate on a smartphone’s home screen is more valuable than 100 highway billboards. That’s because every time a fan opens his phone, you have an opportunity to make a connection with him, so when Wendy’s found out that its social audience was complaining about the restaurant’s lack of healthy meals, the company was quick to respond with an app that features each menu item’s nutritional details. Though it’s technically not a nutritional meal, Wendy’s understood that the app would alleviate many concerns of the healthy conscious. 

+ Wendy’s recently set a goal to raise sales of value items, and it would do this with the help of social media. Unfortunately, value items don’t make for great social content, and the company’s social channels seemed to be hush on the topic. But the company wouldn’t give up so easily. As a result, Rhoten’s team came up with a new plan: ask customers to rename the value items through its social channels. When the company finally decided on the new names, there was a significant increase in orders of items from the value menu. 


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