Why Hitting the Pavement Still Works

Cross-country road trips are still excellent marketing approaches, even when they’re taken on by leading online retailers. The “Friends with Benefits” tour, powered by live music, pet adoptions and food, reached half a dozen United States cities. It took off in Texas, starting the new year with a slew of footwear and apparel presentations.

The Backyard Party Activation

Technically, the party setup took place in midtown parking lots. The location wasn’t difficult to capitalize on, however, as brands were given numerous opportunities to meet, interact and connect with their customers. Zappos brought its brand to life, rewarding its most loyal customers. Focusing on the Zappos pillars of excellence—charity, retail, community and culture—the brand gave attendees something to remember.

Guests were given iPads to engage digital spaces in physical pop-up storefronts., of course, was the landing page transmitted via Bluetooth beacons to every device. Guests could read reviews, make purchases, take home items or engage eCommerce deals right on the spot.

Charity and Soles4Souls

The tour wasn’t all about product promotion. Guests were invited to donate their shoes, clothing and accessories to Zappos—which shipped them to Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls, a nonprofit, helps individuals in need around the world. The Zappos approach extended beyond customer service, promoting an atmosphere of interconnectivity on the global stage.

This approach was smart, as the road trip’s existence served to connect nationwide fans and bring Internet-based business into the streets. Zappos celebrated culture in its host cities, hanging out with brand partners, local vendors and fans alike. Free food, beverages, local musicians and entertainment were plentiful. At every stop, Zappos took charge with picnic tables, games, inflatables and artificial turf.

eCommerce Marketing in the Physical World

Zappos is expected to continue its tour, visiting three more cities in upcoming months. It’ll eventually visit Las Vegas, paying homage to its hometown. Zappos’s approach to real-world marketing might be clear-cut, but it’s certainly unique. By using shipping crates as pop-up shopping venues, the brand was able to present a research-heavy environment which was conducive to purchasing.

It also hosted a pet adoption event. Over 150 pets were adopted in Austin, TX, alone, and Zappos intends to keep the strategy alive as it travels to Nashville. Its backyard party activations are constantly adapted to meet new adventures head-on. Where intuitive branding, promotion and experiences are considered, Zappos may very well be an industry leader.

Why Brands are Placing Value on Live Events


Live events have always been a valuable component of any marketing strategy. However, in the 21st century, the value for brands of hosting live events has grown exponentially. In a world where customers might interact primarily, or even entirely with a company, on-line, a live event might be the only chance that a brand has to impress a customer in a face to face interaction. Here's a quick look at how three brands are taking advantage of what live events have to offer.

  1. Casper is a mattress company which Forbes called a mattress disruptor over the summer after it revealed it was on track to reach $200 million in sales. The company sells mattresses online, delivering them in a box. and because of reduced overhead, is able to offer prices that are greatly reduced from the traditional showroom model. However, if there was ever an industry in which consumers would desire an in-person shopping experience, the chance to check out the feeling of a mattress would be it. One way that Casper combats this is by offering a free 100 day return period. And the other method is to host live events. From a nationwide "Nap Tour" to events that combine rock climbing and free beer, these live events simultaneously serve to provide the traditional marketing value of live events, while also giving consumers an opportunity to experience the product.
  2. Zappos, an on-line shoe retailer, is in a similar situation to Casper, in that it sells a product that consumers have a vested interest in being able to interact with before purchase. While at this point, consumers are much more accustomed to buying (and returning) shoes on-line than buying a mattress, the company still values the in-person interaction. Catherine Cook, the company's awareness marketing and public relations associate, puts it this way, "we love to get in front of our customers. We love to get that one-to-one connection; we call it the personal-emotional connection—really creating solid conversations and getting good feedback from our customers, and just talking to them because it’s not something we get to do often." In 2013, the company moved their headquarters from Henderson, Nevada to downtown Las Vegas, where they built the "Downtown Project." The innovative campus, which would be at home in Austin, Texas or Silicon Valley, features an area built from shipping containers, designed to host events, creating a community that serves as a model for the company throughout the country.
  3. Tinder. While finding love on-line will always lead to in-person interactions when successful, that in-person interaction is between consumers, not directly with the company; the brand might play no role in that interaction. When using a dating service, people are engaging with a company on an intimate level, making themselves vulnerable, yet it's not unusual to have any direct interaction with that company outside of the digital world. By having live events, Tinder is creating a more direct relationship with users and as Josh Metz, the company's director of marketing, points out, "we like to keep the brand relevant and cool and it’s a great way to reach our target audience." One of Tinder's first advertising partners was Bud Light, and the campaign allowed users to "swipe right" in order to win the chance to attend Bud Light hosted live event parties, called "Whatever, USA."

If your company is looking for a venue for its own live event, check out Soho Studios in Miami, Florida. Our multiple event spaces are perfect for big events of various sizes, so you can be sure that you can fit a huge crowd inside. Whether you're planning one event or a multi-venue tour, make sure one of your stops is at Soho Studios!