I blogged day before yesterday about how we have not managed to get the same brand cut through in New Zealand as we have in Australia. The responses were passionate and informative. The beautiful thing about blogging is that you can get some instant feedback.
The crux of the feedback we received was:
• We New Zealanders get the feeling that you are more Oz focused as more events and attention seems to be in Australia
• You guys are amateurs – you need to get more slick, stop playing to the converts and hire marketing expertise to win over new customers
• You have only been around a short time… be patient. You can’t expect brand awareness overnight when you don’t do any advertising or promotional activities.
There is a lot for us to take out of this feedback. The intent of the post was to get thoughts on how to better engage you. We certainly have some clearer perspectives. Yet, the fundamental question underlying the post still remains unanswered for us.
We have only been around for a few years. But the same goes for Australia. We haven’t done any advertising. But the same goes for Australia. Yet, the Australian media has warmed to us, writing unsolicited articles in all the major papers and many widely read magazines. We never expected this, and do not lament that we haven’t had the same coverage in NZ. It is simply interesting that this is the case.
In the same vein, we haven’t done anything to push subscriptions in NZ. Again, the same can be said for Australia. We get more coverage in Sydney where we don’t even have a store than we do in Auckland where we have 3. What we were trying to understand is why the Australian media and certain communities have taken to us and in turn, helped build our brand awareness, while in NZ, even after we brought on professional PR help, we got nowhere near the same coverage. We have the largest papers in Australia calling us to do an article about a potential Sydney store opening that hasn’t even happened yet, while our rescuing an iconic store location in Ponsonby, Auckland barely created any media mentions.
Before everyone starts lambasting me, I am not saying there is anything wrong with NZ. I am simply saying that with the same amount of activity and effort, we have been more successful in Oz, and we want to improve in NZ – the market in which we started.
We have tried radio segments and radio advertising in NZ. We have not done this in Australia. It is true that more mag nation events take place in Melbourne than Auckland, but it is not as if we haven’t held a launch party for T-World: The journal of T-shirt Culture, a party for Threaded, and a bunch of other events. It is just that not as many people turn up. Perhaps because not as many people know about them as we don’t have the same brand cut through. And here we are back to the start again.
The other comment made was that we are amateurs. Yep, we are. People tend to think that mag nation is a big multi-national company. It is me and my uncle. Do you think we can afford marketing folk? I write the blog entries and think about marketing at 2am. You will then say that we can’t expect “love” and the same level of brand support in NZ as in Australia if we aren’t willing to invest in it. Again, I am in no position to disagree, other than to ponder on why Melbourne in particular has taken to us in spite of us being amateur.
In fact, you could argue that it us being amateur that is our biggest selling point. We are not slick. We don’t have faceless marketing folk writing copy from their offices. Most of our loyal customers would revolt if we ever became like this – it is our rawness, honesty and sense of fun that tends to draw people in. This means that the two founders actually talk to customers, respond to your tweets, lift boxes and occasionally stand behind the counter. We are not one of the large multi-nationals with their robotic newsletters and lack of personal care factor. We scour the Earth to bring in that one niche mag that we think NZ will love. We are not marketers. We are passionate about magazines and bringing them to you. We don’t ever want to be thought of as a large corporate. A large corporate would never let me post this blog entry. Its inviting way too much public trouble.
All the comments made on the previous blog post are reasonable, informative and helpful – we want your feedback. Yet they ignore that with the same approach, we have done better in Australia than in New Zealand. Perhaps the difference boils down to one factor… Elizabeth St. Our Melbourne flagship store is large – it has 3 levels of the most amazing range along with stationery, t-shirts and books. It has a striking physical appearance, with room for comfy seating, coffee and free wi-fi. And it has won us numerous awards, such as Most Innovative Retailer (2007) and Best Young Business (2008).
Our Queen St and Ponsonby stores in Auckland do not have this due simply to physical constraints. Is this driving the wedge in our brand awareness between the two countries? Is it that the Elizabeth St store gives us a story over and beyond the great magazines ,while in NZ, we only get to rely on our range?
There is undoubtedly a larger cool factor and greater customer engagement with mag nation in Australia than in New Zealand. I wish I knew how to change that given the physical constraints within our Auckland stores. You can rest assured that we are trying.