Glass Chalk: On-Air and Online Artistry

June 23, 2009

Our good friends over at Glass Chalk have a unique product. Their WHATUP™ banner kit and markers allow anyone to create their own banners and signs that don't (a) look like a grade school art project gone wrong or, conversely, (b) require the assistance of an expensive professional. They're great for schools, businesses, and families. Better yet, Glass Chalk recently scored distribution deals with Hobby Lobby and Party City, so the products are available nationwide.

The problem? Awareness—or a lack thereof. The WHATUP kit and markers are great products, but they don't have the recognition needed to drive sales. To remedy this, Glass Chalk asked us to conjure, create, and carry out a plan to let the nation know about their wares.

Drawing up the right marketing mix

One of the challenges in establishing the right marketing plan for Glass Chalk was timing; we were unsure as to when the WHATUP line would hit the shelves. However, we knew there was little time to spare, and when it comes to reaching the largest number of people in the smallest amount of time, it's hard to beat television. And since Google has made TV advertising a lot more affordable, we proposed putting the company on the airwaves.

At the same time, the legacy Glass Chalk website, seen on the right, needed a little TLC. The design was a bit outdated, a good portion of the navigation didn't work properly, and there was no effective call to action. Because some people who saw the commercial likely would go online to learn more about the product, it made sense to get the site up to snuff.

By focusing our efforts on media with wide distribution and access, we could maximize reach with a finite budget. And since both television and the web offer ways to track performance, we'd be able to monitor campaign progress and make adjustments as conditions warranted.

Broadcasting a better campaign

For an in-depth look at how we created Glass Chalk's first TV commercial, click here.

We decided to deploy Glass Chalk's commercial using the Google AdWords system, which offers an auction-based airtime purchasing model over the Dish Network. In addition to better budgeting controls and reporting information, the Google model allowed us to easily identify and target different viewer groups, based on set-top data. Our target markets included:

  • Students. No more using butcher paper and Sharpies for pep rally banners.
  • The DIY/craft/home market. A 10-foot, custom banner beats a store-bought happy birthday piñata any day.
  • Small business owners. It's just not cost-effective to print up a professional vinyl banner every time one changes the lunch specials.

We selected networks and dayparts that targeted those groups, uploaded the commercial, and activated the campaign. Within 24-36 hours, the Glass Chalk ad was being beamed to hundreds of thousands of households—and we were getting immediate reports on viewership habits, suggestions on improving our airtime bids, and more.

Building the online component

As most of our efforts (and budget) focused on the broadcast aspect of the campaign, we chose to keep the website rebuild simple by redesigning and building it in static HTML. Glass Chalk didn't really need a full CMS solution at that point; with a successful campaign, however, this may be a future requirement.

The primary traits of the WHATUP kit are simplicity and fun, so those were our guiding principles. The legacy site's existing dark background served as an interesting change of pace, but product shots were muted, and the combination of Flash and HTML didn't make for a great user experience.

We took new product pictures, eliminated the unwieldy secondary navigation, and included big, bold links to purchasing options. We also rewrote some of the copy to include good keywords for SEO purposes. Below are a couple of pictures of the final result.

Linking online and on-air

One of the goals in this campaign was to ensure a smooth user experience, by whatever screen they chose. Moreover, there was a distinct possibility that some viewers who saw the commercial would then do some online digging—but they may not have remembered the URL listed in the ad.

Since these people likely would head over to Google, we decided to implement an online AdWords campaign centered around the search keywords they probably would use. In those search results, they'd see the ad to the right, pointing them to the right location.

Monitoring performance

This campaign is still in its infancy, so it's a bit premature to report results. However, with the reporting and traffic tools offered by AdWords and Google Analytics, we already have indications that we're reaching the target markets. Better yet, the robust controls in AdWords allow us to make quick changes to the campaign, if necessary. That's modern art, folks.