Friday, September 24, 2010

An Open Message to Blockbuster (or What’s Left of it)

I had the opportunity to visit a Blockbuster store today, and here are my thoughts on the experience.  Feel free to listen via this podcast episode, or read about it below:



Today, through a slight mailing mishap and oversight on my part, I received one of my mailed Blockbuster DVDs off of the outstanding 900+ videos that I currently have in My Queue at Blockbuster.com.  Over the past several months, rather than cancel my Blockbuster.com Total Access Account, I’ve chosen to place the account on hold, while I work my way through one of the most difficult financial circumstances I’ve ever had to face in my life.

As I went to my local Blockbuster, one of the 2 that still exist in the area, down from the 6 that were in this community when I moved here several years ago, something occurred to me as I walked into the store and noticed their new advertising campaign.

The first thing I saw was a sign next to their “Hot New Releases” that said that Blockbuster got this movie 28 days before NetFlix or RedBox.  The next sign, I think said something like “Think Outside the Box”, and obviously (and terrible) play on Taco Bell’sThink Outside the Bun” and any other contrived ad slogans that lean towards this type of message.

I couldn’t help but think if I had the opportunity to be privy to the ears of “The Powers That Be” at Blockbuster, I’d surely give them an earful, as a person who has now been a Blockbuster customer, both online as well as in-stores for well over 16 years.  First, in the 16 years that I’ve been a Blockbuster customer, NOT ONCE has ANYONE at Blockbuster sought to get my opinion about their stores, their service, or even what my movie renting habits are.  Wherever they’re getting their research, it’s clearly coming up short, and this is in part why they can’t seem to maintain the competitive advantage they once had, and they’re being killed by NetFlix and RedBox.

Second, there isn’t going to be a successful marketing campaign made by Blockbuster that works by downing the likes of NetFlix and RedBox.  Though I’m still fairly new to the big business game as an owner, I’ve been a customer for QUITE some time, and I can tell you it’s always an indicator that someone has an inferior product or service when their whole spiel is based on what the other guys are lacking, without really telling me what makes your product or service better.  In the signs I saw, at Blockbuster, it was more about downing NetFlix and RedBox (as evidenced by the pictures of circles with a slash going through them for mailboxes and red box looking machines that harkens the imagery of the famous RedBox franchise).

Third, I think Blockbuster could benefit from using a few MiniMarketing Surveys.  Since they’re still scrambling to figure out what their next move is, they could probably use some rapid feedback surveys that asks a few key questions to their core audience so they can figure out how to best serve the FEW PEOPLE that still patronize them. 

And I will note, I don’t just say they should use “The MiniMarketing Survey” because I created, but because they really need it.  I’m telling you this as a Blockbuster customer, that’s never been contacted for marketing research purposes about my Blockbuster experience.  I’m telling you, Blockbuster, that you’re clearly missing the mark when you haven’t surveyed me, or people like me, who stick with your service, despite the fact that you are antiquated, and there are now a host of services that have easily replaced you and made you irrelevant to MOST consumers.

Not being mean, just being honest.

Finally, there’s a social media wave a-movin’, and if Blockbuster were smart, they’d be scrambling like hell to find out how (if at all) they can jump on it, and try to survive, and maybe even find a way to get back to their glory days!  Anything’s possible, so with that in mind, I’ll end this message on 2 notes.

The first of which is this: If my financial life turns around in the next 2 months (which I suspect it will), I will continue to be a Blockbuster Online Total Access customer, as long as they keep the service I currently have under $25 bucks.  That’s my “make-or-break price point”.  I don’t pay for cable, but I love watching movies in my “downtime”, and having access to Blockbuster's vast catalog is what made me stick with them over RedBox or NetFlix, which are both in fact limited.  Blockbuster really needs to get into finding out the core value of its loyal customers, and finding out why they keep coming back.  I’m really amazed that no one has cared to do this.  And I’m even more amazed that I actually have to set up a podcast and blog post about this to actually get the ball rolling.

My second note: Dear Blockbuster, I am a Technology and Social Media Specialist, and I am someone who is primed to usher your company into the Web 3.0 world.  More importantly, you can hire me at a price point that YOU CAN AFFORD given that you just filed for bankruptcy.  Now, you can go out and hire one of those fancy “established” social media experts, and that will cost you MILLIONS that you don’t have, and just hasten your decline into “No Man’s Land”.  Plus, I suspect that NONE of the “social media heavyweights” out there that are for hire are actual Blockbuster customers, nor have they been for quite some time, so it would even be somewhat disingenuous for them to try and “save” a company they really don’t believe in too much anyway.

So, with that being said, if Blockbuster is smart, or if the person who heads up their IT or Social Media Department (assuming they have one) is savvy, they should have set up a “Google Alert” for whenever their name, and possibly the word “bankruptcy” is showing up in the news media, and perhaps they’ll be giving me a call in the next week or so (though I gotta warn you guys, my October is looking pretty full, so you might want to call sooner, rather than later. LOL).

And if they aren’t smart enough to be using Google Alerts as a way to protect and grow their brand, then perhaps they’ll learn to take a page out of the President of William-Sonoma’s book who recently used their Google Alerts to find April Morse’s newest creation and were able to bring it to the market and save a business in April’s case, and add more value to the William Sonoma customers by adding a great product to their shelves!

The news about this happening a few months ago was something small in one sense, but it was a large telling about the power of social media, and in my opinion, said as an internet and social media savvy Blockbuster customer, this is where Blockbuster is in fact failing.  And I say that, even being aware of the paltry mobile Blockbuster application that was released a little while ago “exclusively for Android” or Verizon or something or another.  I barely remember seeing the commercial, but I remember thinking the LAST thing Blockbuster needs to be doing is EXCLUDING ANYONE from their market at this stage in the game. LOL.

Anywhoo, so that’s Random Nothingness.  If by chance you happen to be affiliated with Blockbuster or even William-Sonoma and you’re looking for some awesome and reasonably priced social media help, please feel free to get in touch with me.  You can Google Me, or reach me via KindraCotton.com.

Click the player below to hear this podcast:



Kindra

My General Disclaimer:
This podcast will differ from any of my other ones because it's random, with no clear direction or intended audience, and it surely is not intended to necessarily be edifying or uplifting.  That doesn't mean it can't turn into either one of those things, but just know that that clearly isn't the intent or purpose.  Hence the name "Random Nothingness".

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