Mall of America gives a little unexpected extra for holiday shoppers

by Stan Phelps

in purple goldfish project

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Welcome to the Big Secret Parking Party

#677 in the Project is taken from a blogpost by Brian Quinton over at Promo’s, “Big Fat Marketing Blog”

mall of america bspp

In Brian’s words:

“I need to testify to what struck me as the most innovative use of social media by a retail entity in December 2010: the Mall of America’s “Big Secret Parking Party” that gave away reserved parking spaces at the nation’s largest enclosed mall on December 18, the busiest shopping day of the year.

On that day, the Minneapolis-area mall closed off a portion of its north parking lot and reserved a precious 96 VIP spaces for its followers on Twitter. Those followers also had to register at social commerce company under the #bspp hashtag.

The VIP passes were offered in three batches on Eventbrite Dec. 15 and 16 (along with a surprise batch on Dec. 17). Once they won their BSPP ticket, registrants could show up at the Mall between 8 and 10 a.m. on Saturday Dec. 18, show their Eventbrite registration, and claim their spot.

The Mall of America reportedly has 12,550 spaces in its parking lots and got 195,000 visitors on Black Friday. So you do the math on whether a shot at a free spot would have appeal.

MOA also offered gift cards worth $25 to the first five people to check in on Foursquare each day between December 20 and 23. And the MOA Youth Foundation made a $1 charitable donation for each Facebook Places check-in from December 20 through December 23.

david haselmanSpeaking before the promotion, EVP of operations David Haselman said the Mall of America wanted “to reward loyal Twitter followers with something extremely coveted during the holiday shopping season—a close parking spot with the hassle of a time-consuming search.”

Did this campaign build sales or conversions? Probably not. But malls tend to face a problem when it comes to engendering shopper loyalty; consumers are more liable to pledge their allegiance to specific retail brands than to the mall operators themselves.

But the @MallofAmerica account went from 4,900 followers before the promotion to 6,200 at press time. Not a bad result for a campaign that basically cost nothing, garnered a good deal of regional press, and achieved a 26% increase in followers. And gave shoppers a reason to think about the parcking lot with something other than complete dread.”

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway: You don’t have to treat everyone the same, you just need to treat everyone fairly.  Doing a surprise little VIP extra for your best fans around your biggest shopping day demonstrates you care.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra) – They’ve got everything at Mall of America.  An indoor them park called Nickelodeon Universe. Wanna see sharks close up . . . no problem, head over to the Underwater Adventures Aquarium.  How about shark vs. shark?

Lagniappe defined: A marketing lagniappe, i.e. purple goldfish,  is any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra’. It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure.

How do you stand out in the sea of sameness? How do you win repeat customers and influence word of mouth?  Are you Giving Little Unexpected Extras?

What’s Your GLUE?

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