Pure Michigan Case Study
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) faced a merchandising challenge. The group, an extension of theMichiganstate government, had launched the Pure Michigan brand in 2006 to promoteMichigantourism. The brand quickly began growing in visibility with impressive record-setting statistics for visits to its website and requests for information. PureMichigan’s active presence on social media outlets, attracting attention and building momentum, was further evidence of its magnetic appeal. The brand was succeeding in boostingMichigan’s profile as a vacation destination.
MEDC was also experiencing increased requests for Pure Michigan branded merchandise. MEDC knew it had a genuine merchandising opportunity based on the popularity and recognition of the Pure Michigan brand. The issue was how to do it effectively, efficiently, and profitably.
The answer was through an e-commerce site MEDC had already identified as puremichiganstore.org. The intention was to have MEDC find a partner that would develop and manage the site. The partner would also work with the MEDC to ensure that all merchandise reflected the clean and simple Pure Michigan brand tone and message.
The specific challenges the MEDC faced were
- Comprehensive development and management of the Pure Michigan e-commerce website;
- Identification, acquisition/production, and sales of brand-appropriate Pure Michigan merchandise;
- Fulfillment of all merchandise requests from online and brick-and-mortar stores.
But the real challenge for the MEDC was to find the right partner.
The MEDC initiated a search to find its future partner. After much evaluation, it found Helm was the appropriate and capable choice. It is important to note that not only was Helm well-qualified to address the noted merchandising and fulfillment challenges, Helm saw Pure Michigan the same way the MEDC did and recognized that the Pure Michigan brand was really selling more than merchandise: it was really selling a continuation of the Pure Michigan experience.
As a process-driven organization highly experienced in branded marketing and fulfillment, Helm places great emphasis on elevated quality and service levels. Helm was able to relate its knowledge, experience, and high standards to the MEDC’s requirements.
Once the MEDC and Helm started working together, things moved quickly. Helm applied its exclusive Retail Management Process (RMP) to the Pure Michigan brand. This unique strategy yields increased sales, reduces costs, and ensures complete customer satisfaction. From a consumer-friendly website, puremichiganstore.org, to a knowledgeable customer contact center and brick-and-mortar outlets, Helm acted as the Pure Michigan e-commerce retailer in every aspect of the sales and fulfillment processes. Customers would see Pure Michigan, but it was really Helm behind the scenes.
On the technological front, Helm employed FlexFill G3, a proprietary business-ready platform that links ordering, customer service, warehousing, fulfillment, and reporting functions. FlexFill G3 integrated with the MEDC’s business requirements to ensure a continuous, uninterrupted flow to the program’s demands.
Helm also provided comprehensive creative and marketing services to support its brand merchandising process. The services covered website design, supporting print materials, packaging, and marketing promotions. In addition, Helm used social media (Twitter, Facebook, blog sites, et al.) as a marketing tool. Helm coordinated its capabilities with the Pure Michigan social media program to promote an energetic brand presence on social media networks.
Extremely important in all this was choosing the right products to represent the Pure Michigan brand. Helm’s merchandise team is expert in matching brands and products. They found items that would distinguish, support, and expand the Pure Michigan brand image. As a member of the Advertising Specialties Institute, Helm has access to and works exclusively with the nation’s top 50 ASI branded-merchandise distributors. Such access ensures proper strategic matching of brand and merchandise.
The MEDC-Helm partnership has been rewarding for everyone. The Pure Michigan website has had a significant boost in visits and branded merchandise orders. A wide range of new products has been added and with Helm managing fulfillment in a timely manner, the process is operating smoothly and flawlessly. In addition, Pure Michigan brick-and-mortar retail outlets are now thriving across the state. Customer satisfaction has also increased. PureMichiganis pure success.