Sunday, July 24, 2011

Social-Based E-Commerce (or how I bought a ton of new underwear and saved a crap load)

There comes a time in every piece of workout gear's life when it starts to ask itself whether it's time to hang it up.

A pair of running shoes, a beat up T shirt, countless sets of athletic sock identical twins.  With each successive workout, each spin cycle through the washing machine, and each tumble through the ridiculously hot dryer, they debate whether or not their calling is worth all the crap they have to go through to come back fresh for the gym drawer.

For most, the work doesn't really change, it just gets a little tougher.  The elastic doesn't snap back as easily, the colors begin to fade, and the moisture wickinginess gets a little less wicky.

But they typically persevere, hanging in just long enough for a seam to burst during a ab crunch set or a yoga class.  It's then that they are exposed, wardrobe malfunction style, and revealed to be past their prime.  Mandatory retirement, and if they're lucky, a comfortable spot in a rag pile.  The type of place that's well maintained and not far enough away from the gym drawer that they're workout clothes grandchildren can come visit (but they never do, those ingrates).

All those thoughts are what persuaded me to launch a workout clothes refresher campaign, or as I have also thought of it, 'Operation Keep the Boys in the House'.  It's part of my isolationist platform.

It's a long-winded  way of saying I needed some new workout undershorts.

I was debating the best way to buy up a new bunch of shorts, when Amex and Facebook came out with their 'Like, Link, Love', campaign.

Without going into too much detail (and skipping past all those thorny privacy concerns), if you link your American Express card to your Facebook account, the campaign allows you to sign-up for promotions at multiple retail partners.

The offerings range from the really crappy ($5 off online orders at Target), to the pretty darn interesting ($40 back from spending $100 at a Sheraton or Westin hotel).

The best part of the campaign, apart from the security of knowing Amex and Facebook can now get together and talk about you behind your back ('OMG, he spent how much at Chick-Fil-A last month?!?'), is the fact that these opt-in deals are automatically posted to your Amex credit statement.

The value in this cannot be overstated.  The biggest problem with so many deals are the hoops the company forces you to jump through to collect on the reward.  I'm still waiting for $40 worth of Staples rebates that I'm convinced were just a joke by the company to sell toner cartridges.  With this campaign, the value of the deal is automatically credited onto your card.  Sounded fantastic.

So as I perused the deals on this Facebook offering hoping for some kind of corporate marketing error I could take advantage of (100 Chick-Fil-A nuggets for 100 pennies or something), I came across one for the Sports Authority.

A $20 credit with any $50 purchase.

Awesome, I thought.  Because Under Armor has managed to convince us we should pay $20 for a pair of oil-based undershorts, I'm always looking for a way to save on them.  This would give me some much needed financial assistance.

But then, I remembered, Sports Authority also has a foursquare campaign running.  If you check-in at a Sports Authority, you can get other deals.

So when I went to the store, I dutifully checked in on my phone.  What benefit this is to Sports Authority, I'm not really sure, considering I only have one friend on foursquare and he lives in New Jersey.  I doubt he would rush out to the Midwest if he found out I was buying new underwear (I mean, he might, but that seems extreme).

But with the check-in, I would get a $25 Sports Authority gift card for purchasing $100 worth of stuff.  Again, remember that sports undershorts are absurdly expensive.

Suddenly, because I told the store that I was in it with my phone, and because I told my facebook account that I liked this deal, I got $45 off or in additional value to my purchase.  It seemed like a totally kickass deal, and underscores the way we as consumers can make social marketing work for us.

Now I have a whole new gym drawer of Under Armor products, we won't have any problems at the gym, and I got a great value on the purchase. 

All I had to do was give them a bunch of personal information.  But then, I just wrote a huge long blog about the possibility of my testicles popping out of my gym shorts.  Not my primary concern.

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