Just imagine if you could write up your sales promotions in the same style that politicians word their promises during election campaigns.
You would be able to promise much, but in a way that left you room to wriggle out of delivering any commitments.
Now think about this from the consumer’s perspective?
Imagine the disappointment and possible vitriol that would build up against you in the market place.
While politicians only need to face repercussions of relegating a core promise down to a non-core promise once every three to four years, your business faces a mini election every day.
I would argue that small to medium businesses should never resort to trickery or ‘fine print’ to win attention because, apart from being ethically questionable, we are likely to feel the pinch of an unhappy marketplace very quickly.
Too big to care? The Myer example
This is why big retailers are never great examples for small to medium operators to mimic.
My family and I popped into Myer during the recent school holidays and I bought some clothes.
At the checkout, the assistant rang up the sales then dealt me a handful of $10 off coupons.
How intriguing, I thought.
He then had to hand write a unique, 21 digit code number on the back of each one before handing them over, while the line at the counter grew behind me.
It was a nice feeling to have been handed what appeared to be $70 in ‘cash’ just for shopping at Myer.
But then I read the fine print
Each voucher had to be used independently and the $10 was only available if each purchase was $30 or more.
So to make back my $70 ‘gift’ I would have had to spend a minimum of $210.
Then I noticed the sales had to take place during week days of the following week, not helpful for an occasional weekend shopper.
Then I noticed that ‘some exclusions apply’ actually meant THESE exclusions apply, are you ready?
Myer $10 coupon exclusions:
- Credit card payments
- Online purchases (that ruled me out – I was never going to make a special trip back – might have made an extra purchase on the day IF I had been allowed to)
- Gift cards
- Racewear millinery
- Alan Pinkus
- American Apparel
- Anthea Crawford
- Apple branded accessories (drat, that would have been handy)
- Benefit Browbar services
- Bose videowave
- ck Calvin Klein
- Coast London
- Country Road
- Dom Bagnato
- Hairhouse Warehouse
- Hugo Boss
- iTunes Gift Cards
- Karen Millen
- Kit Cosmetics
- @ Sydney Basement
- Mecca Cosmetica
- Miele coffee machines & microwaves
- My Flowerhouse
- Polo Ralph Lauren
- Miss Shop accessories
- Revlon Nail Bar Services
- Rhodes & Beckett
- Sass & Bide
- Skin Physics
- Stop & Pose
- Sunglass Hut
- Vicky Mar
- Villeroy & Boch
- Weight Watchers
- Zu shoes
- Food, service and repair outlets
As you can see, it might have been easier to list what you COULD spend your money on.
I thought it was telling that the front of the rather large coupons featured a notice: DO NOT LITTER. Please dispose of responsibly.
I also wonder, at what point in the sales meeting as such a long list of exclusions is being created, do you have to stop yourself from laughing at how bizarre it is to be filling one side of a special voucher with dozens of exclusions?
How to think about promotions
Promotions and special offers are typically used to attract new clients or customers into the ‘sales funnel’, or to spark renewed interest and orders from existing customers.
With that in mind, shouldn’t our promotions be honest, simple and straightforward?
We have a jewellery retailer client currently offering entry to a draw for simply liking their Facebook page. Nothing tricky, nothing devious; one like earns entry to the draw to win credit to spend in one of their stores or online shop.
A coffee retailer offers free postage if you buy five bags or more in one order. Simple.
Both of these simple examples have set goals they are trying to achieve and conditions easily made clear in a sentence or two.
If you are planning some promotions and find you are tying yourself up on knots as you wrestle with exceptions, perhaps it might be time to stop and reconsider the campaign.
One task might be to revisit your marketing plan to make sure all your resources are aligned toward the same goals.
Another might be to ask yourself, if an individual or business took up our offer in its current state, would they ‘vote’ for us again or ‘campaign’ for us among their contacts and friends?