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What Digital Marketers Can Learn From A Very Successful Mall

January 4, 2018

The December 16-17, 2017, edition of Wall Street Journal Weekend contained an interview with Kemper Freeman. Mr. Freeman owns Bellevue Square, a multilevel mall east of downtown Seattle. He says foot traffic was up 21% this past year, and he’s planning a multimillion-dollar expansion.

That’s remarkable news at a time when online shopping seems to be all the rage.

During Christmas season, the mall has a parade every night. It runs for four blocks. Thousands of people line up to see it: artificial snow, a light show, floats, drummers, and a sleigh-riding Santa. Mr. Freeman: “It’s the biggest outdoor Christmas celebration in the country, and we do it every night… It’s the kind of thing that brings people to the mall.”blank vertical space, 32 pixels highMom Dad little girl family Christmas shopping at mall Free Parking sign Santa Claus in airplane dropping artificial snow for parade

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highThe interview with Mr. Freeman was titled How Retailers Can Thrive in the Age of Amazon. But his ideas and business principals have something to teach all of us.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

1. Mr. Freeman says retailers have to provide emotional fulfillment. We are social animals: “We aren’t robots who are going to make all our purchases from robots.”

Lesson: We need to be social when we engage people on social media platforms. If we don’t inject some humor and humanity into our exchanges, we will fail.

2. One of the mall’s most successful stores just opened up three months ago: Amazon.
Mr. Freeman: “They know they need to connect and fuse with you as a consumer.”

Lesson: We have to do all we can to connect with people. To show there’s a human face behind the brand. I think live streaming succeeds because it helps humanize brands.

3. Bellevue Square offers free parking. It helps attract people to the mall.

Lesson: Content marketers succeed when they offer some free content: tips, advice, how-to’s. It attracts prospects to your brand. It also allows you to demonstrate your expertise.

4. When it comes to retail shopping, nothing beats finding a salesclerk with expert knowledge. Mr. Freeman: “They better be knowledgeable about what they are selling, or people will go online or to a discount store.”

Lesson: Same for all of us. We need to be experts at what we do, and committed to learning more. Marketing will fail without the skills and customer service to back it up.

5. Mr. Freeman spends an hour or two every day walking through stores and chatting with customers. “You can’t believe the kind of intelligence I pick up from these folks.”

Lesson: You have to know your ideal customer, your target audience. Don’t guess what they need– ask them: what they’re trying to accomplish, where they’re trying to improve. Then show them how you can help them reach their goals.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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About Me: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, marketing, and social media. I create images that get brand content seen and shared.

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Questions? Send me an email.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. RKLikesReeses permalink
    January 5, 2018 2:26 PM

    Wise words, all!
    My fav is the expert knowledge one. Tough to come buy in some stores.


    • January 8, 2018 9:14 PM

      Ha! Yes, indeed– and when you do encounter a true expert, you feel absurdly grateful. I had this experience at a hardware store last fall– a guy who knew everything about paint. By the time I left, I was ready to nominate him for sainthood!! Dear me, I really must calm down… 😊


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