For RedPepper, the first step of getting Kirkland's back on top of their marketing game was to capitalize on its already strong customer following. "Out of the gate, we identified that they had a tremendously identifiable and loyal consumer base. They had never leveraged that, activated that, or asked anything of them, and so what we said was, there is our lowest hanging fruit in marketing and return right now," says McMullen. "It's not traditional advertising, it is not circulars, and it's not bill boards. Let's activate this community."
RedPepper immediately started MyKirkland's, a community site where Kirkland's customers can connect with other shoppers and share photographs, participate in discussions, and read product reviews. "MyKirklands.com was our invention and we've been building on it ever since," says McMullen. Currently, MyKirkland's has over 100,000 members, and since "the site is hosted by RedPepper, and RedPepper provides all maintenance and enhancements, we don't have anyone at IT involved, which is a big help for our company," says Kirkland's Krebs. "It is great to have RedPepper help supporting us so our resources can be focused on the brick and mortar projects."
In addition to creating a community site, RedPepper also wanted Kirkland to conquer Facebook. "They didn't have a Facebook presence at all when we first came on board with them," says McMullen. "After activating the community, we said, okay it's now time to make Facebook a marketing asset." To do this, RedPepper came up with a number of promotional ideas including the Cha-Ching! campaign, where every time a fan "liked" Kirkland's Facebook brand page, 10 cents would be added to a virtual cash register, and the total amount of money raised would then go to a lucky fan. "At the time it was up to about $25,000, and we came in probably a little bit higher than that," says Krebs. The campaign also kept customer's coming back to the Kirkland Facebook page by offering a custom game where fans clicked on the virtual Kirkland's store, received a random gift, and could then swap for an item one of their friends had.
Another successful promotion introduced by RedPepper was Kirkland's Glee Spree, a campaign that launched during the 2010 holiday season to highlight Kirkland's gift-giving possibilities. RedPepper had a number of goals for the Glee Spree such as capturing the one time shopper, driving trackable sales, and enticing Kirkland's customer's to do the marketing for them by spreading the word via Facebook shares.
According to McMullen, when a consumer engages with a brand, "it is the point of their highest affinity of the brand. You can then ask them to do something. Say, hey if you had a good experience, here's an incentive to talk about us a little it. It could be a double your coupon, it could be an extra chance to win. If you get 400,000 to enter a promotion, we know we can get 100,000 of them to share again."
With each new promotion, RedPepper made sure that Kirkland was reaching its business goals as well as its marketing goals, and by doing so, it helped Kirkland's "go from very traditional and very few channels to a very multichannel integrated, interactive-with-our-customer, program."
During the Cha-Ching! promotion, Kirkland's page became the 6th fastest growing Facebook page in the world. In addition, Kirkland gained 203,604 new Facebook fans in a 28 day period and saw a 503% increase in comments and likes. The Glee Spree campaign resulted in over 5,000 new Facebook fans and a 53.8 % increase in new visits to the MyKirklands.com community site.
Krebs is quick to point out that despite the positive results from each campaign, "it is a lot of effort. There is a lot of time spent by RedPepper team as well as the Kirkland's team to be able to execute these projects. A lot of this is uncharted waters that we're working through." The main concern for RedPepper wasn't the amount of work involved, but what kind of affect their campaigns would have on the customers. "The biggest obstacle or concern every time we do one of these is how the consumer going to react," says McMullen.
Kirkland's success is part in due to their ability to and desire for change. As McMullen says, "A lot of companies think, all I have to do is tack on a few social tactics, and they use what I call the "headline" tactics, the ones you read about in the headlines, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and they think now we have a Facebook page, we're in social media. They don't really get that you don't launch social media, you do social media. It has to become part of what your brand is and what you're engagement strategy is. Kirkland's got that."
According to Kerbs, along with coming up with great promotions, RedPepper has also provided exceptional customer service, and now, after 2 years of working together, RedPepper is considered part of the Kirkland's team. "As a culture here at Kirkland's, we do not have many third party relationships, I think this is one of the longest third party relationships that we've had in the 5 years I've worked here. This has been a great partnership. There are a lot of smart people at RedPepper. It has allowed Kirkland's to be ahead of their competition within community sites as well as social media in general."