How to Stand Out from the Crowd with POP Marketing



A lot of people ask me what is exactly point of purchase marketing. Chron defines it as follows: “Point-of-purchase marketing, also known as POP marketing or marketing at retail, uses in-store displays and other last minute marketing ploys to influence the customer to choose a specific brand or to make an impulse buy.” I compare it to search engine optimization (SEO), where it’s important for companies, products, and services to use the right keywords in order to be found among a sea of options.

People visit a search engine site to look for something. Most of the time they know what they are looking for. Even though they might not be ready to purchase, any effort from a particular brand will help put that product in front of the consumer. This is why using the right keywords will get companies closer to their actual and prospective clients. Having a website optimized effectively is the difference between appearing on the first page or fourth page of search results.

POP marketing works in a similar way. People visit a store to purchase a product and they are exposed to many choices, just like when they search on the Internet. Brands should put some effort to draw attention, so that when people face so many choices, the process it’s easier and the end result is a win-win situation. For example, a customer goes to the baby products section at the supermarket. Here is what they see:

point of purchase marketing materials, printing, promotional printing

There’s baby powder, baby lotion, baby oil, cologne, and baby shampoo. In the photo above, there are products from at least 4 different companies. It’s obvious that there is a category leader, but still the consumer has many choices to consider during the purchasing process. POP marketing comes into play here because these companies have the option to communicate product benefits using different cost effective materials, like wobblers, shelftalkers, and stoppers. They may use POP materials to create product awareness or as part of a product promotion. In this example, Johnson’s used stoppers, which can be seen from both sides when people walk through the aisle, with call-to-action messages regarding different product uses. They used 3 different messages:

  • Change diapers using Desitin
  • Bathe with Johnson’s Baby
  • Moisturize with Johnson’s Baby

Because they are category leaders, the sign above, called a header says “Everything Essential to your Baby,” which includes product logos. This piece is mounted in a fixture that makes it possible to attach it to the main display. In addition to the fact that they are leaders, they reinforce the message at the point of purchase to draw even more attention. This is the way to stand out from the rest. In the next posts, I will further explain the types and uses of POP materials, which also include product displays and location-based marketing.

Do Social Media Erase Memories?

buzzworthy creations, social media

If there is something very evident regarding social media is how much power they have given people to spread messages, which may end up having both positive and negative consequences. We are no longer passive members of an audience receiving and processing information. We have the power to create, distribute, and control messages; we have the ability to make our voice so strong that in a matter of hours, on one side we have one business forced to close and on the other we have a funding campaign to make up for the financial loss, as a result of closing the business. This is the case of Memories Pizza, an Indiana- based restaurant who reportedly was the first to say it would refuse to cater a gay wedding, protected by Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). I live in Puerto Rico and if it weren’t for social media, I would have never learn about the existence of Memories Pizza.

In a matter of minutes, people headed to review websites like Yelp! and social networks like Twitter to express their opinion for and against the restaurant’s position. There are 194 reviews on Yelp! written in two days; there are 1,046 reviews on the “not recommended” section of Yelp!, meaning these ratings were not factored in the overall star rating, based on reliability and quality, among other factors. The content of these comments ranges from supportive messages like “I support Memories Pizza” to others questioning their position and talking about how horrible its pizza is in a effort to undermine its reputation. The results of these comments, and many others on social networks like Twitter, combined with offline threats, forced the owners to close the restaurant. This is how its Yelp! page looks today:

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On Twitter,#MemoriesPizza appeared in Twitter’s top ten most popular terms, with tweets both supporting and condemning the business for their public stance.
This is one of the tweets from an assistant softball coach, who was later suspended from her position:


The message constitutes a threat, meaning that there were repercussions and local authorities are investigating this matter. This is another example of how people have a voice on social media, as a result of the limitless space there is and the absence of editing. Each person is on his or her own and may choose to post the content they deem appropriate.

The restaurant’s website was also hacked and someone changed the background of the homepage to rainbow-colored and the message, “call us to cater your gay wedding!” This is more support to the idea of how much control people have on the Internet. This means both control to hack into these websites, as well as control of the message itself.

Yet, not everything is negative for Memories Pizza. On the other side, there’s an army of people who are concerned about the economic implications of having to close the business and are encouraging others to donate money through a crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe. This platform allows people to raise money for events and other causes. As of right now, in just two days, the Support Memories Pizza account has raised $538.599. This is an example of how to use social media to put your cause in front of an audience, expecting people will be moved to take action. Social media have the power to move a lot of people in record time, in this case, 18,333 in two days. While the increasing amount of threats to this family moved them to close the business, this side of of social media must not be forgotten: huge masses of people join together to show support, it doesn’t matter which side you’re in.

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While the future of Memories Pizza is uncertain, we must take a look at these reactions as a way to show, not only how fast people can react and create movements on social media, but also how they have brought forward the potential to make a difference. For good or for bad, it seems like these memories created by the thousands of people who had something to say about Memories Pizza, will not be erased. Something happens=people react and, with social media, it’s permanent.

My Fellow Ello

Ello’s promise is that it will not make money from selling ads or user data. The anti-Facebook social network launched last year with these promises; to make these even tighter, ir converted its legal structure to a Public Benefits Corporation. This means that Ello is a for-profit organization, but an essential part of its philosophy to benefit society. The company sees money and profit as a means to make social impact. Ello wants to provide users the opportunity to connect without other companies seeing them as products that can be bought and sold. According to Ello Doesn’t Have Ads, “Collecting and selling your personal information, reading your posts, and mapping your social connections for profit is unethical. Every new feature on an ad-driven network is either a new way to gather more data about you (which can be sold), or show you more ads (which are auctioned), or both.” Thus, Ello’s motto is to do the right thing by making the product beneficial to users themselves, not to other companies. In this way, we see a company reflecting what care ethics is about.

Without advertising, the company says it will make money out of premium extra features, like profile customization. This model is not new and, in some cases, it has proven to be profitable. As a matter of fact, it’s widely used in the gaming industry, known as the “freemium model,” in which users play for free, but pay for extras. The concept is if you want to get the best rewards or features, you have to pay money; users pay to enhance the experience. Clash of Clans and Game of War: Fire Age made enough money last year to buy Super Bowl ads. Sounds good, right? It’s important to note that only 1.5% of freemium revenue comes from these purchases. Also, this model doesn’t mean that these apps are free from advertising. As a matter of fact, according to a survey by App Annie and IDC on 2013, 50% of app revenue comes from in-app advertising and that percentage is expected to increase in 2017. There are two possible scenarios regarding data mining here:

  • It doesn’t mean that no one is using data; it’s used internally to enhance user experience
  • With the information above, we see the success of the gaming apps does imply using advertising as an important source of revenue, thus user data is sold.

In my opinion, this model might work for gaming, but not for social, especially if the social network offering an ad-free experience has no attractive features and functionalities that may motivate me to try it or even consider leaving Facebook because that one is better. In order for Ello to profit from the extras, it needs to increase its user base. As of October, they had 1 million users, to which they just added 250,000 more. The rollout has been limited because the platform is unfinished and they have decided to add features along the way. They have missed a very important thing, if not the most: the app version. Considering the growth of mobile usage, how come they leave this for 8 months after launching?

Just recently, Ello added the ability to post videos from other sources like YouTube. In Ello Is Becoming a Real Social Network, Even as Tech Media Pronounces It Dead, John Koetsier touches on this point by saying that this new ability to share video does include ads, not from Ello, but from YouTube. I wonder what platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud will be able to do regarding advertising, considering the fact that they will be able to know where traffic comes from. Technically, Ello is not selling information, but it’s providing an open forum for others to take data from there. Ello was able to tackle this with a feature on the settings menu, which you can turn off to avoid embedded media.

I think at this point, this limits the user’s ability to connect organically; to create and celebrate life just like Ello wants. It’s a cool option and it strengthens their position about no ads, but then it’s also a barrier for sharing information. If I’m an artist and want to share my video from YouTube with my friends, then it means not everyone will see them. What will happen when people are able to use hashtags? Doesn’t this give outside sources access to content related to a hashtag? I wonder up to what point can they keep this promise, when content like hashtags are part of a universal database.

I honestly love Ello’s philosophy and I like the intention of creating a company with a sustainable model that wants to do social good by intending to protect people and providing a platform strictly for connecting with other people, not products. The freemium model they expect to use for added features and customization sounds like a great idea, but why will people pay for something that they can have for free in the platform which billions of people use? In order to capitalize on this, they must focus on what’s different and try to make it really different. If there is the equivalent of a newsfeed, what feature does my product have that makes me different? Snapchat and Instagram did this. They both have feeds, but Snapchat decided to erase content and Instagram decided to stick to enhancing the photo sharing process. It’s a matter of differentiation…..and launching the app as soon as possible. As soon as they are able to increase its user base, we will be able to see if these promises also result in a sustainable company.

I think people will react positively, just like me, initially. I loved the idea and the concept, but once I got a chance to play with the platform, I couldn’t find anything interesting or too different, so I never used it. Also, it will take a while to see if there will be consequences for all social media, but I can say it makes me think about Path, another social network which tried to deliver a similar ad-free promise to protect privacy, but with a price people were not willing to pay. I think there is a fine line between protecting and not protecting users on social media. They’re all businesses and they need to make money, sometimes sacrificing what they initially say they will protect.

The Act of Moderating on Social Media

“A single tweet can create a ripple that expands into big waves, whether harmful or helpful.”-Daniel Threfall

In How to Effectively Moderate Social Media, Threfall makes this statement, which helps explain the importance of social media moderation. The purpose of moderation is to lead conversations. On social media, this involves keeping an eye on what people are saying on our social media pages, so that we can keep a safe, peaceful, and collaborative environment, rather than one characterized by offensive, potentially dangerous, and out-of-line comments. The role of the social media moderator is monitor, track, listen, and respond, when necessary and according to a company’s social media policy. In the end, the aim should be to develop and maintain relationships, so the strategy should be to take actions that work in favor of this, rather than against. The social media moderator faces many challenges, depending of the situation. There are also many possible ways to address different comments, as well as unlimited choices, including deciding not to respond, deleting a comment, and responding publicly or privately. There are also many choices regarding what to say and how to say it, in terms of tone and language.

Below please find two hypothetical examples of audience and customer comments and my approach regarding moderating these. My recommendation is to respond to both online, right at the place they customer posted the comment. This, in my opinion, serves to respond to others who might have the same concern. Also, it’s a way for companies to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think it’s the opportunity for a company to demonstrate how serious it is about its business.

Example #1

Customer comment to a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response: “Hello (insert customer name). Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We sincerely apologize for this situation at our restaurant during your visit. Cleanliness is one of our of top priorities and I can assure you that steps are being taken with members of our team to address and correct this issue, so that it does not happen again. (Insert customer name), we value you as a customer and would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come back to our restaurant and give us another chance. If you wish to contact me directly, you can call the restaurant (phone number) and ask for Celeste. Have a great day!”

Example #2:

Message to a mainstream news network: “Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.” (Let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)

My response: “Hello (customer name). Thank you for taking the time to write us about how you feel regarding our reporting about the Middle East. Our mission is to conduct reporting that is characterized by impartiality, fairness, and justness. We value the members of our audience and would like you to continue tuning in to our station. Please feel feel to contact me directly by email (insert email address) if you would have additional questions or concerns. Thank you and have a great day.”

Both responses are honest, genuine and address the specific areas which are under attack. Also, both mention how the company values those two areas as part each company’s mission and vision. Finally, both responses offer an opportunity to take the conversation outside, if there are other areas that need to be addressed. Since both user comments address sensitive issues like restaurant cleanliness and biased reporting, I think it’s best to address it publicly in general terms and then offline. Address the areas in such a way that people acknowledge someone is listening to them, but never go into too much detail either, because that may irritate the user even more.  Responding in a genuine, sincere, and authentic way yields respect.

The Rules According to Pinterest

Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Its Terms of Service include the Acceptable Use Policy, which follows a different format regarding the rules people must follow when using social networks. We have evaluated Facebook’s, Twitter’s and Ello’s terms and conditions. In these three, the rules consist of a list of what we can’t do.

What’s different with Pinterest is that after each rule, there is both a short and long explanation of what the rule means, as well as examples (in the form of pins) of the types of posts they allow. Below is the first example of one of the sections of this document:

Stuff you can’t post

You aren’t allowed to post anything that…..

  • Is sexually explicit or pornographic, exploits or presents minors in a sexual way, or promotes adult sexual services

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Why did Pinterest feel ethically responsible to elaborate on each one of the rules in such a way that people understand the message more easily? Why did they want to ensure that this message in particular, regarding the rules is clear? I would say their intention is to obtain consensus from users regarding what surrounds each matter (in this case nudity) in order to maintain the sense of community that we clearly see on Pinterest communications. This document is different that the Terms of Service, which has a language and serious/legal tone. Terms of Service was probably written by a lawyer. The Acceptable Use Policy was written by a member of the Pinterest community. Your neighbor is talking to you, not a lawyer.

When you see the title of this section (Stuff you can’t post), you immediately get that Pinterest is talking to a friend. You’re still going to get the don’t do this format of the rules, but in a more informal tone. The short version is for just like me who don’t like to read and the long version is more poetic, honest, and clear. Pinterest’s concern with these types of pins is the well-being of the community. They say they don’t mean to define art (after they mention that artistic nude photographs are ok). The company wants to make it clear where the boundaries are and clarifies that what the want to do what’s good for its community. “We focus on what might make images too explicit for our community.” The implication of this is based on utilitarianism. Lets do things that keep the most people happy. By taking a look at the language, you see they want to protect their relationships (care ethics) with their followers by carefully explaining what they need to avoid. They are using pins, which is the essence of this social networks. In what other possible way could they have explained this better? I’m not sure there is another way! On the other side, going into this amount of detail to explain something may represent more material people have to question the company; more space for interpretation.

Here is another example regarding pins that contain any information or content that’s illegal:

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Big Data and Consumer Experience-Netflix

Netflix is a good example of a company that benefits from leveraging on Big Data and enhances the consumer experience with their product, in this case, the streaming service. For this assignment, I will focus on how they used Big Data to select one of their original series, House of Cards. I will also discuss how they use Big Data to enhance the consumer experience by learning from their behavior while using the product, including pausing, rewinding, abandonment, as well as replaying scenes. In my opinion, they are leveraging on Big Data in as successful way in order to create and personalized and meaningful experience to the consumer. They have been able to make consumers like me think that when I log to my account, the experience will be a really close reflection of my interests.

Before giving the green light for House of Cards, Netflix already know they would have an audience for that show. They were so positive about this that they didn’t ask for the pilot first, which is usually what happens; they went straight to the 13 episodes. How could they be so sure? Based on the data they obtained through their subscribers they knew that many of them watched The Social Network, a movie produced by the show’s producer, David Fincher. Secondly, the British version of the House of Cards was well watched. Finally, subscribers who watched that version of the show had also watched movies with Kevin Spacey or directed by Fincher. I don’t have to say that the show proved to be a success in terms of viewership and the increased number of Netflix subscribers. In this case, they were able to establish this based on Big Data obtained from their own customers. I have to add that they must have also figured out that people love political drama shows. Based on data too, they decided to produce not one, but 10 versions of the trailer, each targeted to different audiences, according to their viewing behavior. By doing so, they were able to talk to viewers based on what they knew they like, so they could draw the series to their attention.

Netflix also uses Big Data to enhance consumer experience. I’m a subscriber and heavy user of the Netflix streaming service. I now wonder I must be driving them crazy. A month ago, I just started to watch Mad Men and immediately got hooked with the show. However, since I watch it on weekdays at night, I tend to only watch 2 episodes before falling asleep with the TV on. Because each time one episodes finishes another one begins automatically, I wonder if as soon as Netflix notices that the next day I watch the shows again, they get that I fall asleep based on the time of they day I usually watch and its relationship with the pattern. They also know that I hit pause at 10:00pm to take my dogs out and then continue to watch the show. The reality is that these patterns give them a lot of information about my usage.

Netflix also uses Big Data collected from their subscribers to give recommendations. According to How Netflix Uses Analytics, they also put tags to shows, like according to level of violence, theme, gender roles, and very specific information, such as the professional career of the main character. They make meaningful usage of this data because it tells them what people like to watch. Since the whole point of this service is to maintain people interested in finding content, they use this data to determine how they can do that. It is no coincidence that I don’t usually have to search for shows using the “search” feature because Netflix effectively predicts what I would like to watch next. Now that I mention this search button, I wonder all the possible information they could obtain from people who use it.

In my promotional products business, I use data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. The first one provides information about visits to my website, including audience, interests, behavior, and technology, among others. In terms of behavior, there is the possibility to see which users are new and which are returning visitors. This is extremely valuable because that should give me an idea about whether or not my website design is attractive, if it’s user friendly, and if content is relevant. I do have to make some assumptions, but I can establish trends using this data so I can make changes, if necessary. How do you use Big Data?