On the probably completely correct suspicion that you haven’t purchased Sea Monkeys lately, I want to bring you up to speed on what comes in the package. The inventory begins with a package of brine shrimp eggs (that is what Sea Monkeys are, after all, but don’t tell anyone: it would spoil the magic), shrimp food, and a tiny plastic tank for your dozens and dozens of new tiny pets to call home. But that’s hardly all.
A number of papers come in the Sea Monkeys package. Each one urges the customer to the website to learn more about their fascinating new purchase. There are numerous directives to visit this url if you need information about feeding your Sea Monkeys, and another url if you’ve questions about the water quality your Sea Monkey should be enjoying.
A particularly avid Sea Monkey farmer of our acquaintance spent hours reading through all of this information even before raising her first batch. Time spent on the Sea Monkey website? More than 2 hours.
In a world where most brands would be thrilled to get a website visitor’s attention for 2 minutes, this strategic use of in-package inserts resulted in over two hours of engagement. If we look at the amount of resources that went into producing this strategy, we have only a few moving parts: creating multiple informational web pages answering common product questions and one or more printed document with appropriate questions and the links to the targeted urls.
Yet the rewards are huge– extended engagement on the company website builds brand loyalty, predisposing your customers to do additional business with you. Did you know you can buy your Sea Monkeys toys to stimulate their intellect and promote their physical fitness? It’s true.
Yet we have only begun to explore how the Sea Monkey brand experience has been extended. In the corner of one of the many flyers that come with your sea monkey, there’s an ad, complete with an old-school scrolled frame around it, announcing that one could get a diploma proclaiming you to be a real Sea Monkey Scientist for the bargain price of $16.00. (Postage included)
Now, aside from the fact that this is flagrantly untrue – becoming a Marine Biologist, which is one of the other names for being a Sea Monkey Scientist, will set you back way more than $16 – it’s a brilliant little bit of marketing. You’ve got the customer’s attention anyway; they’re looking at these flyers because they have answers to commonly asked questions on them.
Adding an ad for a completely superfluous yet extremely high margin product adds next to nothing additional to your marketing expenses – and if only 1 out of every 1000 customers takes you up on the offer, you still come out ahead. It’s a model that could easily be successfully emulated by other businesses: consider your own product mix to discover what opportunities already exist or that could easily be created. How much would the customers of a specialty fabric store pay, for example, for a nicely framed certificate that proclaims them a Master Quilter?
Sea Monkeys have long been promoted as an educational toy. But who knew that a good number of the lessons they taught were all about good marketing?