Nestled in the heart of Portland’s Old Port district, PacaNaturals is one of Maine’s only retailers of premium alpaca products. Owned by husband/wife team Stacey and Tom Munroe, the store sells only products made in the United States, with a large emphasis on Maine-made and local items. One of the more popular items at PacaNaturals, a beautiful throw blanket that retails for over $100, is even made with alpaca fiber from Stacey and Tom’s own animals. The live on Abbott Farm, a large colonial-style farm where they keep their 35+ alpacas, as well as chickens, turkeys, pigs and two barn cats.
Speaking honestly, PacaNaturals has a very specific demographic. While we will open our doors to anyone and everyone, of course, there is a certain type of person to whom PacaNaturals has a great appeal. As mentioned above, our premium alpaca blanket retails for over $100. This should give you an idea of the price range of our products. Generally, a pair of alpaca socks sells for between $20 and $30, while scarves can be over $50. Alpaca sweaters and vests retail for $100-$200. As you might gather, alpaca wear lends itself to a high middle class/upper class demographic, and tends to draw women more than men. (Specifically, women middle-aged and older.) However, late fall and winter draw more people into the store, and broaden our audience a little bit more, as the demand for warm clothes is very high from November to April in Maine.
At PacaNaturals, we do have a very firm grasp on who our demographic is, and have made them the target audience for our social media and blog posts, as well as for our print and radio ads. We post blogs that relate to women’s fashion, things to do around Maine with kids and families, etc. Additionally, when we run print ads, we do so in local magazines and newspapers with largely female audiences (i.e. – Maine Magazine, Downeast Magazine, The Old Port Magazine).
Below is a Strengths and Opportunities Analysis on PacaNaturals, which will help us determine how we should use digital and traditional marketing in 2015.
- Premium products
- Niche market
- Loyal customer base established
- Commitment to excellence
- All employees have extensive knowledge about products/alpacas
- Owners are respected in alpaca community
- Christmas With Alpacas
- Portland Buy Local & GreenFest events
- Looking into new locations
With all of this in mind, we can begin to build our marketing plan for the last quarter of 2015 (September through December). It is very important that PacaNaturals embraces an Integrated Marketing Communications philosophy when planning our outreach and advertising for this time period. While all companies could benefit from an IMC strategy, it is especially important that PacaNaturals takes an integrated approach to marketing. This is largely because of who our target audience is. While most people have embraced social media and digital communications, there are still people who don’t enjoy using Facebook or who are reluctant to join email lists, etc. This is especially true for those in our demographic. Since middle-aged and older women vary in their affinity for technology, we simply cannot rely on social media and email to sell our products. It is very important that we meet our demographic where they are by also running ads in magazines and on the radio.
I would propose that PacaNaturals amplifies our social media advertising by using boosted and paid ads on both Facebook and Twitter, and that we put a strong focus on optimizing Pinterest for SEO as 2015 wraps up. I would also propose that engaging and informative advertisements are run on WCLZ and Frank FM, local radio stations in Portland who have an overwhelmingly middle aged audience. Additionally, while print ads in local magazines are expensive, they are seen by thousands, which we know based on the readership of such publications as Maine Magazine, Downeast Magazine, the Portland Press Herald and more. Finally, I’d like to take advantage of proximity marketing, especially around the holidays, and of the various Portland-based websites that encourage consumers to “buy local.”
So, now that we’ve discussed a lot of ways to improve our Integrated Marketing Communications strategy, is there anything we missed? While I delved a lot into social media marketing, print ads in magazines and newspapers, and advertising on the radio, I did not discuss direct mail or email marketing at length. I will do so now.
- Reach potential customers directly at their door.
- Provide coupons/discounts exclusively to those who redeem their direct mail at our store or with an online code.
- Increase brand awareness throughout Southern Maine.
- Could be perceived as “annoying” by those who are receiving the mail.
- Might get simply thrown into the trash.
- Sent right to potential and returning customers in their inbox.
- Perceived as minimally invasive marketing.
- Clickable links/high resolution photos/SEO optimization.
- Provide coupons/discounts exclusively to those who receive our newsletter.
- Drive consumers to our online store with links.
- Spam filters/blacklist risks.
- Could get expensive, depending on amount we wish to send.
- Might get un-opened/sent to trash.
Overall, I think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in each scenario. I think direct mail would take a significant amount of planning and coordination, but could be effective in reaching those who are not as “internet-savvy” as others. Email marketing is something that we do do already, but not as well as we could be. Sending weekly or bi-weekly newsletters is something that we need to be in the habit of, rather than sending them sporadically. These are a great way to drive people to our site via links and embedded pictures.
Analytics and social media planning tools are two things that we need to think deeply about as we try and approach a more efficient and effective marketing strategy in 2015. Currently, we are not using paid services for either of these things, though I think we could justify the expenditures – especially with analytics. For one thing, we are interested in driving traffic to our online store, yet we are relying solely on Google Analytics to tell us if our efforts are working. While Google Analytics does provide a suite of important information for no cost, there are other tools that could help us better understand the effectiveness of our e-commerce efforts, as well as the sites and landing pages from which people are arriving at our online store.
In addition to paying for an analytics service, I think that we could benefit from using an all-in-one social media and digital marketing scheduling tool. What we need is likely more powerful that Sprout Social, though HootSuite looks like it could be a solid option. However, HubSpot does provide a nice suite of products, though we would need to do extensive research on this option, as the costs can be astronomical.
It would be even better if our analytics tool and digital planning/auto-posting platforms were the same thing. HubSpot is a way to achieve this, as well. Tools like the aforementioned HootSuite do provide a decent look at analytics, as does Buffer, another social media scheduling tool. It would probably be necessary to set ROI and KPI benchmarks before we invested our time and money into learning a powerful tool such as these, but there will certainly be a need for these tools in the future as a more robust IMC plan comes together.
Overall, there are a lot of areas where we need improvement in our marketing strategy at PacaNaturals. While I truly believe that we do a good job with the resources that we have (both time and money), we could do better. Where we do place a heavy emphasis on social media right now, we could be taking some of the weight off of sites like Facebook and Pinterest by developing an engaging and regular email newsletter, optimizing our website for SEO and broadening our social media horizons.
It will take some time to get to where we want to be – at a fully integrated marketing approach that takes advantage of all forms of multimedia and traditional marketing tactics. However, having a strong commitment to this goal, which we do, is the first step in reaching it, and I believe that everyone involved with PacaNaturals believes in the business enough to want to spend this time and money on marketing.
PacaNaturals is the little store that could, and we are all prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure it keeps on thriving in one of Maine’s most popular destinations: the Portland Old Port.