The dawn of the digital age in marketing is supposed to herald a new dawn in engaging with our customers. I truly believe this to be the case. But in the last 24 hours I have had two examples that remind me that, in both digital and offline marketing, sometimes you do need to go back to basics. This is especially the case in the age of the ‘considered’ consumer who looks hard at how they spend their money.
Last week after many years of faithful service, my oven died. Unfortunately it did so about 2 years before I really want to do a major kitchen refurbishment. So we needed to buy a basic oven quickly and cheaply. In discussing where we should buy it, I mentioned to my partner a seconds electrical shop on the Princes Highway in Sydney. I remember it having signs about washing machines, so perhaps it has ovens too. It could be just what we need. The building itself is painted a nice conspicuous pink colour – good OOH marketing you might say.
But to check whether it does ovens and work out opening hours, I hopped online. I couldn’t remember the name so I typed in discount electrical goods into Google along with the name of the suburb. No sign... Then I tried this with the names of the neighbouring suburbs... I tried a few alternate search terms, no sign.
But such is the lure of a deal when you have a kitchen to save up for, that we stuck with it and drove over there at about 9 this morning. We arrived about 9.10 and followed the signs to the parking lot to find that it was firmly shut. We wondered if the store opened at 9.30 perhaps. So we parked round the corner and walked up to check the signage. No apparently it opened at 9am. Also reading the small print they had changed their focus to be on electronics. At which point, we drove up the road and gave Bing Lee our business. They were open, friendly and helpful and gave us a great deal.
At this point, I think it is clear to see why retail organisations are struggling. In this case, they failed about every rule in the marketing handbook. I couldn’t find them online, I couldn’t check what they did, and they didn’t do what they promised (open at 9am);
Savvy readers may have spotted that the firm no longer sells cookers. So you may be thinking they haven’t really lost anything. But actually, they did.
Firstly, even the stupidest consumer has friends – usually ones that live in the same area. Whereas the firm had the chance to turn me into an advocate of their services for electronics, it actually made me into one that will be loudly telling everyone she knows not even to bother thinking about them.
Secondly, even ‘considered’ consumers have an amygdala. That’s the reptilian part of our brain that causes us to react instantly to things – for example impulse buys. We’ve been looking for a new TV for a while – and because we were so pleased to get the cooker sorted we wandered over to the TV section of Bing Lee. They offered us a great deal to buy the two at once – so we did.
Therefore the big pink shop squandered all the investment in its position and its bright pink landscape and lost the opportunity to make a high value sale. And all because it couldn’t be bothered to do a bit of SEO online and to open at the time it said it did.
Later today, I sat down at my computer to read an article on Tourism Australia’s new marketing campaign. Whilst I was there I was offered a pop up survey. Because I’m a researcher and because it is a brand I trust, I agreed to do it.
When I tried to click on the pop up box, it hovered too far down the page so I had to scroll down to start it. I wonder how many potentially willing participants were lost right there?
Being a persistent type of person, I got it to somewhere on the page where I could start it. 3 questions in, I got to the question about my industry and suddenly most of the box is hidden behind a video in the main article so I can’t answer it. All I can do is close the survey. So now I am steaming mad with this brand for its disrespect AND I’m thinking most people will have given up by now. So double whammy – the magazine has damaged its brand and failed to obtain the information it needs.
I go to another page and the survey pops up again. So I give it a second chance (by now I am a small minority).
I get to question 8 and it asks if I ever read work-related content on the weekend. I own up to the fact I do (after all I am doing this on the weekend). It takes me to Q9. I take one look at the question which gives me a series of time slots and scream mild obscenities at the screen... yes occasionally I work at the weekend but that time might vary. So where is the box that says gives me the option to say it varies? Not there, but it won’t let me progress through the survey without it. By now, I am a human hedgehog on the defence – every bristle is up.
But at the same time, my marketing brain is astounded. This magazine has now created four points at which it has driven people out of the survey. Probably about 99% of those who click in have given up by now (unless they religiously check their work stuff at 9am!). But I’m not sure if that isn’t a better outcome for the magazine concerned than the alternative. Because to keep going, I click one box which is a time I sometimes do work at the weekend – but equally not one that I look at more than any other time. So now the magazine is making decisions based on information from 1% of people, and posting content at a time which constitutes at best 20% of their real need. Something its web metrics is far better equipped to give it information on anyway. And this is a journal for professionals – many of whom work in my industry. So the brand damage is pretty significant.
The final insult? The time it took to complete this survey. The invitation promised me a 3-minute survey. Because I am so frustrated, I have stopped looking at the time till Q9. Now I am curious. So I complete the questionnaire – it takes me 4 minutes to do so. Even assuming Qs 1-9 were quicker than the last 6 or 7, this means it took me well over 6 minutes to complete this ‘3 minute survey’ (actually probably closer to 10). Only 3-7 minutes difference?
No that is 100%-300% more commitment than I signed up for. That’s a really nasty look for a brand, it feels very much like disrespect (actually it feels like dishonesty). Like many people in this sector, I charge my time by the hour. As a small business owner with limited overheads my time is pretty cost effective. But many others who are desirable target audience for this magazine are not – charge out rate for a top level researcher in a big agency or an ad agency person would be coming in at $6 to $10 dollars a minute. Would this magazine have promised to sell me something for $10 dollars and then actually charged me $30 or $60? No, it would have been guilty of deceptive practice. But it did something worse. It took my time – something I can never get back.
Both these examples share a common problem: a sense that their business priorities are more important than their customers’ needs. In other words, it lacked respect for its customers. And if they can’t respect me – how can I trust them?*
If you want engaged consumers who will buy from you and recommend you, there is no longer any space to disrespect them. As the song has it – R E S P E C T find out what it means to me
* I have previously written on this need for trust. See http://sparksheet.com/why-trust-matters-online/
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