4 Marketing Takeaways from Amazon’s Move into Brick and Mortar

The More Marketing Things Change the More They Stay the Same

Hard on the heels of Barnes and Noble announcement of brick-and-mortar store closures comes Amazon’s announcement heralding the opening of its first brick and mortar book store. It just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same; so here are four marketing principles you can bank on for the long haul.

In a move that can only be seen as ironic, Amazon – known for its disruption of the literary industry not only because of the brick and mortar bookstores that shuttered their doors but also because they opened the floodgates for authors and self-publishers, putting more capabilities into the hands of readers and writers than they had ever had before – now has its first ever brick and mortar bookstore, amazonbooks, located in the university district of Seattle.

And Amazon isn’t the only company proving that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Polaroid’s instant camera, first conceived of in 1932 was an evolution in innovation with perhaps its most popular and well-known model, the folding SX-70 land camera launching in 1972. Within a year of launch, Polaroid was making more than 5,000 of these popular cameras every day. Fast forward to the year 2015 and the more marketing things change, the more they stay the same, as Polaroid re-conceives and launches its instant camera again in the form of the new Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera with an appeal both to new adopters as well as those of us who regularly shook our Polaroids upside down in the 1970s and 80s.

4 Marketing Takeaways from Amazon’s Move into Brick and Mortar

The more marketing things change the more they stay the same, and four marketing takeaways from Amazon and Polaroid’s moves.  

  1. People want personal connections.

Even people that use the internet to research and buy do so with the expectation that there are real people on the other side of the “counter.” Scripts and content that come across as artificial or superficial just don’t cut it.

People on both sides of the counter want and need personal connections. A Google+ follower responded to this article asking why I thought Amazon made the move into a brick and mortar store since it doesn’t seem to make financial sense, given the bookstores it has competed out of business. But maybe the answer is as simple as understanding what people love about bookstores. The smell of a room full of books. The feel of a book in your hand. The potential and excitement of the unknown as you open a book up to its first pages, looking for the promise inside.  The sense of belonging when you’re in a room with others intent on the same mission, so to speak.

  1. People crave evocative experiences.

It doesn’t have to make you feel nostalgic. It doesn’t have to make you feel pampered. It doesn’t have to make you feel appreciated.  But it has to make you feel something. People will respond when your marketing is evocative, whether that comes in the form of buying or subscribing, following, reviewing or commenting.

  1. People want to feel indulged – at any price point.

This goes beyond the idea of providing value, even perceived value that trumps price point. This can be accomplished in the moment a bookstore shopper spends sitting in the lounge space reading a book for free while deciding if they want to buy. This is accomplished every day in Starbucks coffee shops, as patrons get not only a delicious beverage but a ‘free’ place to meet, work, read or relax.

People want to feel that the time and resources invested in doing business with you, whether that entails visiting your business or buying your products or services online houses intrinsic meaning. Their lives aren’t just better because products or services performed as promised – or even better; their lives are better because they made a difference, learned something new, became part of a bigger movement, or mattered in some other way, too.

  1. People want to feel special and unique – even if we’re all in the same boat.

One of the basic approaches effective marketing employs is to send the message that “we’re all in the same boat” to convey brand empathy and a sense that the brand understands the real pain point and has the solution. Today’s brand marketers have the ability to personalize and customize marketing to the point that individual buyers can feel special, unique and purposefully sought out, even if we’re all in the same boat.

People want to feel like they belong and they want to know that they aren’t alone, but they don’t want to not feel special to a brand. Think about the bar ‘Cheers’ as portrayed on the NBC comedy of the same name; a bar where everybody knows your name. As people walked in they were immediately absorbed into the group, but regulars never arrived without being greeted by name. The more you can tailor marketing to user preferences and streamline the buying process for repeat customers and site visitors, the better.


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Marketing takeaways from Amazons move into brick and mortar bookstores