A dual role
When offered the chance to lead marketing and communications at Right Stuf, Inc.—an online retailer and a home video publisher of Japanese animation (anime) — I was intrigued.
In addition to handling the brand marketing for its anime releases, I was also enthusiastic about the opportunities its ecommerce division provided to:
- Participate in the development, marketing, and sales of the product in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) functions; and
- Apply what I was learning (at my previous ecommerce role) about niche marketing, online retailing, and effective multichannel marketing on an even larger scale.
Bonus: It also was a chance to market almost every release for every publisher, in addition to Right Stuf’s own titles.
Challenges and outcomes
The North American anime and manga (comics) industry was hit hard by the Great Recession in 2008, declines in the overall home video industry, and its own bubble bursting.
This unfortunate series of events led to the closures of online and brick-and-mortar retail competitors, increased competition from a certain online mega-store, and several key specialty publishers and distributors exiting the market entirely.
Despite those challenges, my marketing and communications strategies powered:
- High double-digit percentage cumulative annual sales growth and increased market share for Right Stuf’s ecommerce division over a six-year period (2007-2012); and
- Triple-digit percentage cumulative increases in holiday sales over the same time.
An omnichannel strategy for brand and sales marketing
Marketers call it omnichannel marketing, but “come-at-it-from-all-angles” is a valid description, too.
In short, I worked across all departments to:
- Create consistent, fan-focused messaging;
- Deliver those messages and engage fans via a variety of tactics and media channels; and
- Ensure all marketing, public relations, and sales promotions worked together.
Combined, these activities created value and a positive experience for current and prospective fans-turned-customers.
Work areas and accomplishments
Anticipating and amplifying store-specific communications, content, trends, and customer demand.
- Accurately analyzing integrated sales, viewership, and anecdotal data. Also: sales forecasting.
- Collaborating with vendors to develop and execute short- and long-term publisher and product promotions, as well as cross-promotions.
- Conducting and utilizing research to identify, inform, and measure the effectiveness of marketing projects and messages.
(Original research, plus Google Analytics, sales data, and customer retention/acquisition research.)
Dramatically increasing the volume and value of owned editorial/media, media coverage, promotional alliances, and fan attention.
- Establishing a distinctive, clear voice and consistent messaging across store-focused creative and editorial.
- Expanding, diversifying, and measuring the effectiveness of strategic partnerships and advertising/paid media.
- Restarting and supervising the expansion of library, anime clubs, and convention outreach.
- Conducting ongoing media relations, social media, and grass-roots publicity. (See also: anime brand marketing.)
- Leading the development and distribution of sales and content marketing, including:
- Editorial and sales promotion content;
- Advertising creative (print, digital);
- Email newsletters and blasts, promoting a mix of fan-approved and data-backed product recommendations for individual sales events.
- Direct mail projects (and targeted lists);
- Podcast segments;
- Press releases; and
- Printed and promotional items.
Establishing, managing, and supervising the company’s presence on social networks.
- Creating relevant content and engaging in genuine, ongoing conversations with fans via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
- Using social media interactions, social listening, and direct fan feedback — in conjunction with sales data — to anticipate and amply trends.
Consulting for other anime and manga companies (at my employer’s behest).
- Sharing my marketing expertise about North American anime, manga, and Asian media trends, plus the sales potential of other publishers’ potential anime, manga, and live-action acquisitions.