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Client Success: Shindigz

Using Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Reach the Military Community

Shindigz is an American owned, family operated party supply retailer based in South Whitley, Indiana. They pride themselves on offering unique products, customization, and terrific customer service at the lowest possible prices.

Challenge:

In October of 2012, Shindigz teamed up with SheerID to protect their 20% military discount. Once SheerID’s automatic military verification solution was in place, Shindigz set out to more aggressively market their military appreciation program, knowing that only verified military personnel would be able to redeem the offer. Not every company that launches a new military appreciation program or hero discount has an online marketing budget of $10-25k to spend on advertising with some of the top military sites. Instead of creating a splash with a big ad spend, Shindigz opted to create buzz in the military community through word-of-mouth marketing and by utilizing their own internal resources.

Solution:

Step 1: Create a landing page

39% of veterans and military families find out about military discounts from a company’s own web site or emails.

Before beginning an outreach campaign, Shindigz updated their own web site to make their military discount easy to find. They gave military customers their own landing page with a personal message that clearly explains why the company wants to honor the military with a discount and what steps qualified shoppers must take in order to receive the discount. The page also spells out the details of Shindigz policies for shipping to APO/FPO addresses, information which is important to anyone shopping online from an overseas base or shipping a care package to troops stationed overseas. That level of detail illustrates to military shoppers that Shindigz isn’t simply offering them a discount as a marketing ploy, they truly understand and care about the needs of the community.

It is important to think about SEO when you are creating a landing page to promote a new military offer through word-of-mouth marketing. When writing the text for the landing page, the copywriter from Shindigz included keywords like military discount, and the URL for the page includes the word “military” to optimize the page for Google’s search engine algorithms and help the page rank organically for search terms like “Shindigz military discount”.

The Shindigz team also added a link to the page in their footer, and a button to the home page that links to the military appreciation landing page to make it easy for any military families who hit the home page to find information about the discount. Around key holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, Shindigz updates the home page to feature banners that are relevant to the military community.

The company also goes above and beyond to create additional content throughout their web site that is meaningful to military families, like the party theme category “Welcome Home Party” where military family members can shop for personalized welcome banners and party favors, as well as patriotic tableware, decorations, balloons and other party supplies.

Step 2: Promote the Offer

81% of the military community learns about military offers by word-of-mouth.
Once the web site had been updated and landing pages and categories were ready, Shindigz began publicizing the military appreciation program. Shindigz used 3 main strategies to create buzz around their military discount:

  • In-house Marketing Tools
  • PR
  • Outreach to Military Bloggers

In-house Marketing Tools
To start with Shindigz began including messaging and banners advertising the program in their own email blasts and made it available to their affiliate marketers through Commission Junction. This move not only reached any military spouses or service members in their existing customer base, it also raised awareness of the offer among the friends, co-workers, and extended family of military personnel. Since only qualified customers verified by SheerID could redeem the discount, there was no risk in broadcasting the news of the military appreciation program.

PR
The Shindigz PR team distributed press releases, both independently and in partnership with SheerID, around Memorial Day and Veterans Day to spread the word about their military appreciation program in 2013. The Veterans Day press release was re-posted 93 times across a wide range of web sites like the Yahoo Biz, The Star Tribune, Daily Herald, Boston.com, LA Daily News, and Minnesota Public Radio. The release reached an audience of 6.2 million.

Outreach to military bloggers
In late 2012 and throughout 2013, Shindigz reached out to select military spouse bloggers in the community, and offered them gift certificates to buy products to review and to give away on their blogs to their readers. Their offers were met with enthusiasm, and their products have been favorably reviewed on popular military blogs like Cammo Style Love, Soldier’s Wife Crazy Life, Hooah and Hiccups, A Modern Day Fairytale, Life Lessons of a Military Wife, Army Wife 101, 5 Nuts in a Nutshell, Ramblings of a Military Wife, and The Deployment Diatribe [add links to each of these]. Shindigz products were showcased at their Superbowl parties, anniversary parties, a Parisian-themed birthday party for a soldier stationed overseas, Christmas celebrations, and at their children’s birthday parties. These nine bloggers have a total of 97K followers on their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Benefits:

As a result of Shindigz efforts, they saw:

  • 22% increase in military orders from Jan/Feb 2012 to Jan/Feb 2013
  • 35% increase in military sales from Jan/Feb 2012 to Jan/Feb 2013
  • Record number of military verifications in May 2013 around Memorial Day
  • 32% growth year-over-year in the month of November from 2012to 2013 for Veterans Day
  • 185% increase in overall orders from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013
  • 235% increase in overall sales from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013

Shindigz does credit the increase in their overall orders and sales in the past year, at least in part, to the growth of their military appreciation program. The military appreciation program is viewed as a big success, not only because of the impact it has had on Shindigz bottom line, but because of the impact it has had for the men and women who have served, and their families.

We’re proud to help military families make memories that will last a lifetime. We want to do all we can to help our service men, women, and veterans celebrate, and with SheerID’s verification solution in place, we’re confident that we’re reaching the right people with our military offer, no matter how we choose to spread the word.

Jacquie Downey, Director of Sales and Marketing, Shindigz.com

Here’s what a few of their customers had to say:

“As a military wife, I always love finding companies that are military friendly, and Shindigz most certainly is that! All military personnel and family members get 20% off! How awesome is that!? Plus, they have a wonderful collection of Welcome Home party supplies that are just perfect for military homecomings! From personalized banners to patriotic decor…they have everything you need to make that homecoming even more special!” —Randi from a Modern Day Fairytale

“On the Shindigz site I found not only costumes but also party supplies, banners, decorations, table ware, and cool themed items to make your party really extra special…AND the best part is that I had order tracking when I ordered AND my cute box got to me in exactly ONE WEEK at my APO address. That clinched it for me and will keep me going back for my next event.” —Veteran Military Wife from Life Lessons of a Military Wife


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