Perhaps you've heard of Zazzle, the four-year-old company that lets you create your own personalized merchandise. The business is experiencing dramatic growth, even in a lousy economy.
The concept of personalized merchandise is not a new one.
How personalized merchandise is marketed can be viewed as "new". You're not going to see traditional catalog marketing as part of the Zazzle marketing mix.
We start with the Zazzle homepage.
There's also the Zazzle blog, complete with RSS feed or e-mail subscription feed. Zazzle also hosts a Tech Blog, a Seller Blog, and the ArtsProjekt Blog, all with RSS feeds and e-mail subscription feeds.
Zazzle also hosts a forum. Please take a look at the staggering number of topics and posts. For instance, Bill at Thecampfireshop has a question about skateboards, while chic_geek asks questions about her gallery.
According to Blogsearch, there are more than 3,000 blogosphere mentions of Zazzle ... in the past week.
And then there's Twitter, where it looks like there are at least a half-dozen mentions of Zazzle per hour.
Go ahead and toss in an alliance with MySpace, for good measure.
Zazzle also focuses on traditional search and e-mail marketing programs. There are discounts based on geography, like this Boxing Day promotion. And Zazzle allegedly lures shopkeepers away from the competition as well, engaging in traditional brand-related warfare. Shopkeepers are important to the business model, in that they spread the word for the brand.
So why invest all this time on a Monday exploring a company like Zazzle? Well, it is becoming very clear that direct marketing in 2009 is a very different craft than it was in 1989 ... or in 2004. Look at the marketing tactics employed by this company. It becomes obvious that the tactics are the lifeblood of the company, rather than add-ons that complement traditional programs like catalog marketing. It is so much cheapter to get folks to market your business for you than to spend $0.65 per individual sending out a catalog every three weeks.
Our homework assignment is to learn about business models like Zazzle, identifying the pieces that fit into our business model. What are they doing that we could incorporate into our strategy? And what are they doing that we should stay far, far away from?