Marketing Made Difficult

Are you seeking a one-off hit or a long term relationship from customers with your marketing?

Values is a widely used term but the most successful businesses know that having values and living them is a way to build loyalty with customers. That process starts with marketing that should not make purchasing from your company difficult.

In business, you have very little if you do not have any sales, and your sales occur in the space made by your marketing - however extensive, informal, strategic or accidental that marketing is. Yet it never ceases to shock me at how poor many businesses are at marketing their services or products.

Just this week I received an invitation from a national supermarket to try their online store. To entice me the vouchers had in big bold letters '£6 off a £30 shop'. Not bad I thought; 20% off sounds good; they have some very nice things in that supermarket that are usually out of my price bracket.

My wife, though, is the wise one, "Are you sure?" she asked me.

I replied with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" I was looking at the vouchers and it definitely said '£6 off a £30 shop.' To be doubly sure I squinted my eyes and began to read the very, very small print on the voucher. Isaw the words, 'Only one voucher per transaction,' that is fair enough I thought using all three at once would be cheeky. Ah, but then the problem appeared as I read further, 'Minimum online spend £60.00.' So now my 20% off has become 10% and there is no actual way of getting £6 off a £30 shop. In fact as a potential customer I've just discovered that the offer never existed as they had presented it. 

This, as all consumers know, triggers no feelings of affection for the compney in question. At best they have been foolhardy, probably in reality a little sneaky and at worst (in my personal view as the marketing 'target') they lied to entice me to shop online. Whatever, the morality of their actions, my next action was to bin the voucher and not spend any money with them. Not an effective way to spend their marketing budget.

That story highlights for me what is a big problem: How do we as consumers ever know if the marketing we're receiving is a bargain or baloney?

If doubt exists it affects how our marketing is received and how the customer judges potential values.

For example, in the recent past my our team has won several tenders to deliver executive coaching to businesses in a city region. This meant that for certain small companies we could offer free coaching and training to help them grow. What surprised me is how often potential clients looked at us, when presented with the offer, like there muct be a catch. A few refused to believe us no matter what we said; as an owner of a values based business that response hurt.

However, what it also meant was that those companies that had gone before us and offered something at no cost to these potential clients had eroded trust by offering something that the customer could never really attain. The client had learnt to distrust the marketing message.

As a strategy for success, catching one time sales only and preventing future sales is not a successful approach. Marketing is not about getting new customers to make a purchase they will regret. In our modern world of 24-7 communications, customers have so much information and choice that they need to WANT to purchase from you. Many companies can sell once to someone and never again. However, to grow your business, one of the best most cost effective routes, is to expand your sales to existing customers. They should be people who already trust you and know your value.

So before you send out your next marketing message ask yourself, "Will it create a long term sale or a one time sale?" If it is just a one time sale you might find that customers choose to spend their money elsewhere for a very long time. To be successful you want current and future sales from customers and that requires building trust.