I recently purchased a trial size of a more expensive mascara than I usually buy. Why? I can tell you it was NOT because I saw a glossy, splashy ad in a magazine nor a giant billboard. No Kardashian gal promoted it on TV. In fact I had never 100 mink fur eyelashes heard of it before.
I had only to lay eyes on this minuscule tube of mascara when approximately 200 seconds later I handed over 10 clams for it.
The story needs to be told because it reveals how a small, unknown brand competed with three popular and well-known brands; and got the sale.
The takeaways are huge for us small biz folks. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to small business marketing.
We’ve all heard the expression “Go big or go home.”
You hear it in sports and in business; it’s also a kind of personal mantra for some people. This philosophy manifests in different ways, often to the speaker’s detriment, if you ask me. Going big, or pouring on the sauce too thick right at the beginning without a plan or strategy, wastes precious resources. Not to mention the implied petulance in “… or go home.” In my experience, most successful people are determined to be here a year from now.
Small, consistent and strategic steps in your desired direction can get you where you want to be faster than competing with giants in their traditional channels.
Counterintuitively, creative, small businesspeople who want to “go big” might consider doing so by embracing their own small size and ability to maneuver in the marketplace.
The effect can be downright mighty! Case in point: the following mascara episode.
Have you noticed lately? Mascara is hot. Mascara and nail polish. There are more new brands, formulas and colors available among these two beauty products than ever before. Your mascara and nail polish choices are almost overwhelming. If you purchase beauty products, this niche exploded on your radar within the last year.
It was on my mind the other day when I went to Ulta to grab some mascara. I had been thinking “100 mink fur eyelashes” on three separate occasions the previous week.
1. I had received a Mary Kay magazine touting a new summer three-step mascara program.
2. Tiiet During carpool, I had chatted with my teenaged daughter and her girlfriends about lash extensions and false 100 mink fur eyelashes, and
3. Coincidentally my mascara was down to the dregs.
On their own, each of these incidents would have hardly registered, but combined, they suddenly had an effect on me, a mascara consumer… and I was going shopping.
When I got to Ulta (a beauty supply shop) I grabbed my usual picks from the rack (one of each, regular and waterproof) and went to check out.
Now here’s the interesting part: just before the Ulta checkout counter are small kiosks of trial sized products of all sorts. You have to walk around these 5 foot displays to get in line.
What do you think caught my eye? You guessed it. A tiny box of mascara. $10… More than I usually spend on the regular size. BUT, I had been considering an upgrade… why not!
When I went to ring out, what should be sitting directly in front of my eyeballs but a display of full-sized mascaras (full-sized price). The same brand as the trial size I was holding in my hand. Well, you can imagine the effect. Suddenly that trial size at $10 didn’t seem like much of a commitment at all. Even though I usually spend $7 or $8, here I was choosing an additional $10 tube of mascara which probably contains only enough goo to cover your lashes three times!
Marketing well done.
I want you to connect the dots. Here’s a small unknown mascara — “They’re Real” made by a big-enough cosmetics company, Benefit. But by playing small, it competed with three of the biggest beauty products giants in America. Mary Kay, Maybelline and Loreal.
And because it offered me a small size, it won my business and earned my cash. It didn’t sell me on the biggest or the most expensive, but on availability of a small trial size of it’s signature product. It piggy-backed on the huge mascara trend and snuck in with just the right thing.
And get this: the woman who rung me up casually mentioned, “You’re going to love” that stuff. Then added, “Did you know Austin Ulta stores outsell ALL other Ulta stores nationwide in mascara?”
“Why no I didn’t know that… Imagine that!” (Don’t you love it?)
The next time you are thinking “Go big or go home,” remember the tiny trial sized mascara that won the sale. You may find a more creative way to “go big.”
Here are the criteria that worked for “They’re Real” Mascara
1. Timing — catching a trend
2. Piggybacking on other major brands’ advertising and marketing
3. Placement — creatively getting in from of the ideal customer’s eye
4. Testimonial, especially from “someone who should know”
5. An easy level of commitment (a trial size)
6. Higher price/quality (sometimes higher priced products sell better!)
Now get those great ideas out there. “Go Big” by going “Quick, Smart — and Small.”
Jen McGahan lives in Austin and ravenously scrutinizes marketing and the factors that get people to act. Her agency MyTeamConnects specializes in copywriting, email marketing and cross-channel online marketing for small business. You can reach heror (Toll Free) 855-279-0553. If you visit Austin, Jen McGahan is the one with the “big 100 mink fur eyelashes.” Yeah, they’re real.