What happens when you bring a popular Italian designer (Missoni) to the masses, broadcast your message non-stop with a nationwide TV campaign, and push your social media channels to pump up the hysteria of your target customers?
Well, for Target anyway, a business disaster. Target failed to connect the dots and is now dealing with a collapsed ecommerce platform, downed corporate website, and remains stone cold across its social media platforms while its customers howl to the high heavens.
The New York Times reported that their website went down in the morning EST, and is still down late this afternoon PST, although there is a lovely dog letting me know that. Accordingly posters on the company’s Facebook Target Style feed are not at all happy as some were left standing at the virtual cash register after paying for their items, and then having the site go down. The same article reports furious Twitter and Facebook users yet companies’ voice is silent across these channels from what I can see.
You would think this would be the one time you want to keep the lines of communication open and engage with your customers in helping them navigate an unpleasant experience. Turn it into an honest and open dialogue with news updates, and possibly even promotional incentives to rebuild goodwill, although more promotion is not what Target needs now to be sure.
The more pertinent question is how could one of the largest retailers miss the signs? To modify the words of Al Pacino from “Any Given Sunday”: “The signs are all around us”. One would think that Target has a fairly advanced, and sophisticated marketing function. I mean they could certainly sign the check for the production of the TV commercial and buying of media time. They could certainly garner a high volume of “likes”, and showed that were adept at building, that-ohso trendy marketing term these days, Buzzzzzzzz” , with an impromptu pop-up shop in New York City the week prior, and a preview just for fashion editors the same week.
So what were some the signs that could have missed? How about over 350K likes just for the Mizzoni page on their Target Style Facebook page. This had more likes than any other item I could find across all their Facebook properties. Perhaps looking at that sign and then correlating the volume and velocity of those “ likes” to their TV campaign, would have made one ponder?
Perhaps looking at the growing traffic volume on their site in regards to the upcoming launch or mounting search engine traffic and referral links would have clued one in that perhaps “we have winner” and maybe we need another server.
Or even looking at that cool “buzz” building activity last week that caused frenzy on the streets of New York, and even made once, normally self composed fashion editors, turn into savages and leave the displays and shelves looking like a warzone at their early preview event ,would have made one ponder?
Clearly there was a breakdown between marketing, analytics, operations, ecommerce, IT and some good ole business sense that now leaves Target, silent, scrambling to bring up a online store and corporate website, and watching a growing chorus of pissed off customers posting, screaming and fighting, not just on Social Media, but also in the aisles of their stores.
While the current misguided marketing fervor is to get a “like”, we can, and do underestimate the signs that are all around us, every day. In this online-offline world we need to ensure that we have the systems, processes, and simple lines of communications that enable us to connect the dots, and give us a heads up so we don’t get blindsided by the next big thing, or lack thereof. Nuff said.