Creative / 11th Jul, 2017

Marketing Lessons from Snapchat’s Vending Machines

There’s a pop-up on the green near our office. It’s Shoreditch, so we get trendy pop-ups all the time. But this one made me stop and double back.

It’s one of Snapchat’s Snapbot vending machines (1 of 2 in the UK). The machine dispenses Snapchat’s new spectacles. They link via Bluetooth with your phone and, when you press a button, automatically upload what you’re looking at to the Snapchat app. It’s billed as a way to give a first-person perspective of your day.

Here’s what the vending machine looks like:

This latest effort from Snapchat isn’t just another example of experiential marketing. There are lessons for all companies looking to maximise the impact of their marcomms (even if your customers don’t use Snapchat).

Lesson 1: Widen your reach by coordinating the use of multiple marketing channels

A common mistake we see companies make is to take a siloed approach to marketing. It’s a logical development when in-house communications capabilities have evolved – you have the press office, the brand guardians and the advertising and collateral people. Maybe you have a separate digital marketing and social media team, and maybe this is bolted on to other people’s responsibilities.

However your organisation is structured, the result is that it can be difficult to coordinate the different marketing tactics to execute an overarching strategy.

Snapchat as a product falls firmly in the social media space, but this campaign aims to capture interest outside the digital sphere. It’s a tangible piece of outdoor advertising that’s driving revenue and adoption through a physical product. And in that way, it’s getting people outside of its stereotypical demographic (teenagers) to think about cool ways of using the app.

Lesson 2: Identify influencers across channels to amplify your message

This is something you hear about a lot with regards to social media marketing – the idea that piggy-backing on someone else’s network gives you easy access to a larger audience.

And it’s easy to look at influencers purely from the perspective of getting celebrities to post updates and share content. But if you focus just on social media and celebrities, you miss out on opportunities.

For this particular campaign, Snapchat teamed up with Boxpark Shoreditch, which is basically a pop-up mall. Boxpark promoted the Snapbot installation across its channels, from social to email to signage.

Importantly, the types of customer who follow and patronise Boxpark align with a target audience for Snapchat. You’re a social media app known as the platform of choice for savvy, share-happy teenagers. How do you gain traction with an older, more lucrative market? You identify segments that actively use other visual social media platforms like Instagram, are keen to be early adopters, and value the cool factor. In other words, the average Shoreditch worker. Boxpark isn’t a major celebrity, but it’s an ideal match for this market – making it an ideal influencer.

Lesson 3: Make sure you’re consistent across channels.

While we’re on the subject of early adopters, it’s worth mentioning product differentiation and driving competitiveness in a saturated market.

And your brand is a key aspect of that.

Define your proposition and selling points for different audiences, so you have a framework for how your brand expresses itself. Establish visual guidelines for how your brand is portrayed. And make sure you stick to them.

Snapchat’s brand is predominately yellow, and it’s become known for that particular shade. The pop-up makes liberal use of that yellow, which aids brand recognition. The installation design also aligns – the vending machine looks like a smiley face, the imagery features cool-looking people and the deck chairs evoke that holiday selfie feeling.

Even if you only know a bit about Snapchat, you quickly recognise the brand identity and can see links in the ongoing experience through to your actual use of the app.

So here’s a summer marketing challenge for you

Think about a customer segment you want to build a relationship with. Jot down all the channels they experience – from outdoor advertising and print to email and social media.

What opportunities are you missing?

(And if you’re in Shoreditch between now and the end of July 2017 – give the Snapchat spectacles a try!)

Photo credit: Boxpark