How to Market Like a Monkey…a Ninja Monkey

A couple weeks ago, a friend and I were discussing dress shirts. Not the most exciting of mid-day gchat conversation topics, but he was getting ready to gear up for his new attorney gig and was looking to get some referrals from friends who wear dress shirts on a daily basis. As we were running through some of the usual suspects, he asked if I’d ever heard of a company called Bonobos. I mentioned I had, but didn’t have any of their shirts, and the conversation moved on from there.

As we continued chatting, I figured I’d venture on over to Bonobos.com, because while I had read about the company’s use of social media, I had never actually checked out their wares to see what I’d find.

What I found was a lot of things I really liked. I found some great looking clothes (and some that were a little, shall we say, Martha’s Vinyardy for my tastes), a nice clean website, and a company that appeared to be dedicated to customer service (Free Shipping! No Questions Asked Returns!) and saving monkeys. Oh, and they call themselves ninjas, which appeals to me in a whole other way.

Something else I found over the next couple days, which was less expected, was an unbelievable example of great interactive marketing, via “traditional” web ads and customer interaction through more social avenues.

On the traditional side of things, I noticed within a day or so that Bonobos had unleashed a pretty aggressive retargeting campaign on me, meaning I was seeing display ads for Bonobos pants on nearly every website I was visiting. Running this sort of campaign regularly myself, I knew they must be spending a fortune on customer acquisition (and as I later found out from an AdAge article the cost per new customer was around $100).

I wasn’t actually in the market for pants, but damn it if I didn’t find myself on their site a few more times poking around, getting more and more tempted. Impressed with their campaign, I thought I’d take to Twitter and let them know:I posted this late on a Saturday night while working a UFC event and then sort of forgot about it, until first thing Monday morning when I received this response:

This is where their social media savvy started shining through. The response they sent was absolutely pitch-perfect with what I had come to see as their brand identity. They weren’t pushy or salesy, but irreverent yet to the point. Their tweet essentially said “We’re listening…watching, actually.”

Their tweet sent me back to their website, where I browsed around their sale items for a bit, but again didn’t pull the trigger on a purchase. A day later, what did I find? I found that they actually were calibrating – I was now being served with ads for a 25% off discount if I liked them on Facebook, which of course I did. I’m not sure if they identified me as spendthrift (due to the pages I was viewing on their site) or if they recognized that I had not purchased yet and tried to sweeten the deal. Either way, it was well done.

So, here we are two weeks later, and my message to Bonobos is this: You’ve got me, I’m sold. Your model worked perfectly – start with word of mouth then drive the message home online. I started thinking about my fall wardrobe this weekend and what was the first site I visited? You guessed it, the one with the monkeys and ninjas. I’m a slow shopper, so have patience, but rest assured that the payoff is coming.

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