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  1. Skooba Design Case Study: 3 Essential Attributes to a Strong Online Marketing Strategy

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    Skooba Design manufactures and sells bags and accessories for laptops and other tech gear. As an online retailer Skooba design has cultivated a strong reputation for high quality products and excellent customer service.


    While browsing the company website I came upon a page that shares the standards and philosophies that Skooba lives by. The list is the company’s variation on a mission statement and is made up of ten core values.  


    As I read through the list I kept hearing a single word echoing through my head; though it doesn’t itself appear as an entry I feel that a struggle to promote integrity is central to the company’s principles. This includes integrity in terms of product quality, brand identity as well as customer satisfaction.


    This article will provide an overview of Skooba Design’s online marketing strategy;  in particular how Skooba articulates it’s brand’s identity to its customers as well as what the company does well and what other businesses can learn from them.  


    The case study will be broken up into three sections:

    • Customer Service Reputation

    • Showing the fac of the business: Building Trust Through Personal Contact

    • Creative Content Marketing


    This article will be a guided tour that starts by tracing exactly how Skooba Design captures its potential customer’s attention in the first place and continues by examining what kinds of emotional and commercial appeals are utilized to further influence potential buyers.

     

    Customer Service Reputation:

     

    Skooba’s market segment is one in which the customer’s foremost demand is for a sturdy and functional product.  Customers have to be convinced that their tech equipment will be kept organized and intact.  The initial impression that such a company must give off must be one of reliability.  Skooba communicates reliability to its customers in a number of different ways.


    Let’s start right at the beginning, with the company name.  The type of work that Skooba does, production and design of often quite specialized carrying equipment as well as custom design and manufacturing services works to validate the use of the word design in the company name.  However, this line of thinking can be reversed; instead, one might say that the inclusion of the word design in the name actually validates the company itself.  The word design is suggestive of being on the cutting edge of innovation, and of being refined in form in function.  The term raises expectations (subtly) in the minds of customers and peaks their interest.  Now let’s take a look at some of the ways in which Skooba Design backs up this first impression.

     

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    Firstly, Skooba is not short of accolades and awards. Internet Retailer magazine recently included Skooba on its “Hot 100 2013” list of the world’s top internet retailers.  This honor places Skooba among a selection of the most respected and successful ecommerce businesses from around the world.  Skooba has also been awarded with an “Elite” (highest possible) rating by customer service testing company Stella Service.  The latter award follows a lengthy screening procedure and secret shopper testing process.  With just the right amount of subtlety, Skooba has included these awards directly on their homepage.


    With credibility established, Skooba works even harder to gain an edge by celebrating and promoting its success and obsession with strong customer service.  On the about page of the company website is a video under the title “Why Skooba.”  The video is a personal appeal from Michael Hess, the CEO, himself.  In the video Mr. Hess briefly shares an overview of his company’s services and exhaustive experience.  He also comments on the litany of top reviews his company has received from a variety of magazines, newspapers, TV stations, and tech websites.  Mr. Hess encourages viewers to research testimonials and customer reviews to confirm Skooba Design’s reputation for themselves.  He finishes with a declaration of Skooba Design’s dedication to customer service.  The combination of format and content which the video represents is one that is specifically geared towards humanizing the brand and building a sense of trust within the customer; for instance, Mr. Hess is sure to mention that customers making inquiries by email or phone will be put into contact with “real” people.  Skooba Design strives to be viewed as friendly, approachable and responsive.

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    In an effort to further improve customer satisfaction, the Skooba Design website also features a clever bag finder application that helps customers narrow down bag selections based on laptop dimensions.

    Showing the Face of the Business:

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    As was mentioned earlier, Michael Hess, the CEO and face of the company appears directly in the introductory video on the about page as well as in many of the other videos on the site and on the Skooba Design YouTube page.  

    Hess has a respectable business reputation that is somewhat independent of his role as CEO of Skooba Design.  Hess has a personal website where he advertises his speaking, writing and advisory services.  His speaking engagements cover topics ranging from: customer service, PR, international business and various entrepreneurship topics.  As for his writing exploits, Michael Hess is a regular contributor to CBS news MoneyWatch.


    All of these practices work to increase the credibility of Michael Hess himself and in turn benefit Skooba Design by boosting the accessibility and reliability factor mentioned earlier. Given that Mr. Hess is the public face of Skooba Design, it follows that his reputation is very much intertwined with that of his company. Although it is not always necessary for CEO’s to go on speaking tours and write newspaper columns, there is still much to be learned here about how the leader of a business can engage directly with the public in a way that adds humanity and credibility to a brand.  Letting customers see and interact with the people behind a business can greatly enhance customer loyalty and engagement. This can be done in a variety of creative ways on the website or through various other marketing and social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc. Let’s further explore how Skooba does this  in the next section…

    Creative Content Marketing:


    Like any successful company operating within a niche market, Skooba must work extra hard to communicate passion and commitment to its customers. Work hard it does; for every new product, Skooba uploads a video to youtube to showcase the product’s features and capabilities.  The videos are hosted by regular employees of the company.  This strategy works for Skooba not only because the presenters in each video are intimately familiar with the manufacturing/design process behind the product but also because the people working at the company are the types of people who would use the products themselves.  This mark of personal investment and the accompanying sense of legitimacy is the most important aspect of these videos.


    Video is one of the most captivating types of content there is.  To effectively utilize this medium it is of course important to understand what types of video content appeal to general viewers.  The trick is to appeal to the broader interests of your target audience rather than settle with take it or leave it sales pitches.  The best content marketing addresses a wider range of topics within the scope of the particular industry at hand.   Skooba for instance has posted fan video’s bloopers and outtakes, skits, TV appearances and recently they even posted a prank video for April fool’s day showcasing an absurd fictional product release.


    The initial challenge for businesses is to figure out how their products or services fit in to the context of people’s day to day lives.  Skooba’s products for instance are particularly popular with frequent business travelers; based on this, Skooba has a few videos (one taken from a news segment) that demonstrate how their checkthrough laptop bags can be used to get through airport security with greater ease and speed.  


    In the past, Skooba has even been known to conduct contests, such as their ‘Master of the Digital Universe’ contest in which contestants were required to submit a written appeal as to why they considered themselves worthy of the title.  The prize was the opportunity to work with a Skooba Designer to create a custom gear bag which the winner could then keep for themselves.  The choice to offer such an interactive prize was a great way of attracting the right types of active and engaged applicants (granted, the premise of the contest itself also had this effect).  The choice of prize also worked to highlight the unique capabilities of the company itself; a much more effective route then simply offering a stock cash or commercial prize.


    It is important to consider the wide variety of online marketing and social media channels that are available today, and how they might fit into your business strategy. Looking at the three most popular social media networks for instance, we have facebook which is focused on building connections with friends, Twitter, which yields a platform that is well suited for efficiently disseminating news related content and Pinterest which is a curation and scrap booking platform based entirely on sharing captivating visual content.  Skooba Design uses both Facebook and Twitter in a way that suits the specific strengths of each platform.

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    Skooba Design also shares content that positions the company as a credible source on topics that concern its market base.  For Skooba a primary means of achieving this is through their affiliation with their own CEO and his writing for CBS news.  Articles written by Michael Hess are regularly posted to the Skooba Design Facebook page.   This boosts the company’s web presence, its credibility and fosters greater customer loyalty.  There are also plenty of other possible ways to increase credibility - including:  how-to videos/tutorials, infographics, industry related blog posts (including ‘vlogs’ or guest blogging).


    Hopefully from this articles you’ve gained an understanding of how Skooba leverages online marketing to further the cause of its brand. Perhaps it’s even given you some fresh ideas that might be applied to your own business?

     

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