23 April 2009

When Marketing Backfires

On two separate occasions Direct Energy sent a solicitor to my door to get me to combine my gas and electric bill onto just one bill.

Sounds like a pretty good idea, but the pushy people (actually downright rude) and tactics they employed to explain this left me feeling less comfortable with Direct Energy as a provider of any service.

Just to clarify things - I was happy with the status quo, meaning two bills weren't bothering me and I was happy with both Direct Energy for my gas and Enmax for my electricity.

As a rule, I don't like door to door solicitation. But, I try to put on my least bothered face and listen for a few seconds, at least until they get their pitch out. The fella Direct Energy sent asked if I was paying two bills and I said yes, then he asked me to get them.... 'scuse me? I'm two thirds through Dancing With The Stars!

I explained I wasn't interested in doing this at my door step and asked if they had a web site. Then I could check things out when it was convenient, or not at all (that's convenient too).

The salesman pushed for a close saying today's the last opportunity to save $20 per month on my bill and that all of my neighbors have signed up tonight and I'm the only hold up. At this point, I said I'm not interested in saving $20 per month (I just want to get rid of him now). He responded with, and I kid you not, "that's dumb, everyone of your neighbors has signed up...". Now aggravated, I ask him to please leave my property and that I will be closing the door.

He leaves, I go to the web site to complain. I contact Direct Energy and try to complain but am told that the person that was at my door was from a different company of the same name. Hmmm.

Fast forward two months.

A lady comes to the door, says she's with Direct Energy. I say "Oh good, the last person you sent was very rude." To which the fast thinking lady responds with, "I'm the supervisor, I can help you."

So far so good I'm thinking, but then she asks to see my two energy bills - it's a sales pitch. I politely turn her down, she wasn't as relentless and rude as the previous chap, but still a bit pushy. Pushy enough to cause me to act.

The next day, I do a web search to see who their competitors are in the combining bills market. As it turns out, Enmax has a product called EasyMax that does this very thing. Now I've heard of EasyMax before but didn't understand what it was (either I wasn't listening because I was satisfied with the status quo or they didn't market it effectively to me). I signed up right there and then.

So, Direct Energy tried bullshit marketing and sales tactics to get all of my energy bill business and ended up losing the half they had in the first place.

I guess their marketing worked - it got me to take action on a problem that I didn't know I had. It just kind of backfired on them. Direct Energy lost my business because of their marketing - a result that was the exact opposite of what they had planned for.

So, if you're going to learn something from this, think of this old saying, "you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar". And, remember, the people you are marketing to are people too and they will likely respond and react the same way you might... treat people with respect.

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