Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smart Snugglie Marketing in a Down Economy

Let’s cut to the chase: A Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. A blanket with sleeves that we all guffawed and mocked. A blanket with sleeves that sold five million units of just the blue version in the period of a year. A blanket with sleeves that did this in a down economy.


It’s not that Snuggie was an original product. Before it, there was the Slanket. There’s also the Freedom Blanket and the Blankoat (as someone who works from home, I’m very familiar with the blanket-as-clothing options. Let’s just say on a good day, I dress like Mrs. Roper and on a bad day, it’s a towel held up with a banana clip).

It’s also not that Snuggie is the best quality of the bunch. If you do a search for Snuggie vs. Slanket, you’ll see that the Snuggie is actually on the cheapo side, barely a step up from a giant piece of felt.

The difference was marketing.

1. Snuggie ponied up when no one else would. When everyone else was tightening their ad and marketing purse strings, Snuggie was (and is) everywhere. With less demand in the marketplace thanks to everyone else scaling their ad buys back in response to the recession, Snuggie was able to negotiate big chunks of ad time at much lower rates. They flooded TV stations with their product.
2. Snuggie let go of their brand (in a good way). No sooner did Snuggie commercials roll out did people start mocking them. Loads of people made their own parody videos, blogged about Snuggie, made sarcastic Facebook “Snuggie appreciation groups” and so on. And Snuggie laughed right along with it all. You might be surprised how many companies are quick to shut down anyone who tries to use their brand or product in a way they believe is unflattering.
3. Snuggie continued to react. Snuggies should be gone by now as far as memes and pop culture interest goes, so they keep giving more. There’s now Snuggie for Dogs and Designer Snuggies – which were recently launched during New York Fashion Week (for reals).

How does this all translate to you and your business?:

1. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. A changing economy can be scary, but it can also present opportunities. Listen to conventional advise, but realize that’s what everyone else (including your competitors) are doing too. By going against the grain, you can often find prospects and room for negotiation.
2. It takes money to make money. Yes, there are great cost-effective ways to get business – web content marketing being one of them – but some people have even scaled back on these. How do you expect to maintain or grow business by shrivelling your marketing budget? Doing nothing will result in nothing. There is a gamut of marketing services and tactics that range in budgets – find what works for you.
3. Take business seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. No one likes a company that is humorless and uptight. Prove you aren’t with your web content and marketing efforts. Put some personality in your blog, video, web conference and Twitter updates. Do this while still being great at your core business. And what if people are having “fun” with your brand or product (see: mocking it relentlessly)? By loosening the reigns and going with the flow, you might just laugh all the way to the bank.
4. Don’t rest on your laurels. Did you launch a great product, service or message this year? Great! Congratulations! So, what’s next? If you have an audience, listen to them, engage them and find out what they want. Look for ways to improve your original idea, give more options or come out with complimentary products.

Sure, the Snuggie is beyond silly. We’d bet half of the purchases were “ironic” in nature and gag gifts. But the money they’ve made? It’s nothing to laugh at – and it’s something to learn from.


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