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Ken Magill

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Campaigns Take Advantage of the Snow

1/27/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
As the Northeastern U.S. braced for a winter hammering yesterday, one local merchant saw an opportunity and promptly hit “send” in a moment of entrepreneurial initiative at its finest.
 
A few months back, the wife and I were killing some time at a local Harriman Army-Navy & Harriman Clothing Co. while having our Honda Pilot serviced.
 
I bought a KA-BAR military knife and handed over my email address as part of the transaction.
 
“What the hell do you need that for?” asked the wife, as if “need” ever came into play in my buying decision.
 
“Why, he needs it for the zombie apocalypse!” said the young woman behind the counter, who with that one sentence made me swoon like no woman would until the wife bought me a rifle scope and a beer fridge disguised as an end table for Christmas.
 
Yesterday as we were readying ourselves for the coming snow, I received an email from the Harriman Army-Navy & Harriman Clothing Co. with the subject line: “We are open and ready for the storm! Here's the best gear to get you through!”
 
“We will remain open today for as long as the storm allows us,” said the body copy. “We’re Ready… Are You?”
 
The message showcased some products appropriate for dealing with the upcoming storm, such as snow boots, thermal underwear, batteries and flashlights.
 
The Harriman Army-Navy campaign was a perfect example of the power of email. It’s difficult to imagine the store could have leveraged Facebook or Twitter as effectively.
 
I called the store several times today to see if the campaign was successful. No one picked up.
 
Meanwhile, the Harriman Army-Navy store wasn’t the only merchant to attempt to capitalize on yesterday’s coming storm in my inbox.
 
Power Equipment Direct sent a campaign with the subject line: “Beat the Blizzard: Snow Blowers in Stock and Ready to Ship.”
 
Clicking through the email pulled up a snow-blower landing page with the headline: “Rush Order Processing = Same Day Shipment + Guaranteed In-Stock.”
 
The two snowstorm-related campaigns are reminiscent of a story that appeared here in 2012 in which executives at Cincinnati-based Totes Isotoner discovered they achieved a significant lift in email-driven umbrella sales when it targeted recipients in areas where it was raining.
 
Chris Reighley, who at the time was director of e-commerce for Totes Isotoner, said that in 2011 the company tested mailing against current-day, three-day and five-day rain forecasts.
 
“And when we tested it, strangely enough, when it was raining was when we had the most effect with it,” he said.
 
The lesson: Weather-related email pitches for weather-dependent products can apparently work even if the products won’t be delivered until the specific event is over.
 
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