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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09 April 2009

What Works?

Everyone wants to know what advertising or marketing works, and rightly so, they want to invest some money in their brand so they can reap the rewards that extra sales and profits bring.

So, what's the answer? What does work?

When it comes to advertising and marketing... everything works. And, it's not the size, it's how you use it.

You've probably seen big campaigns that front line staff don't get behind and they never seem to take off. That's because advertising on it's own can be ineffective - your advertising sets the expectation - when the customer makes contact the brand, you better be what they expect (or better) - otherwise you are throwing away your money.

I always stress continuity, with my staff and with my customers. Having continuity is important for the story of the brand to be told and for expectations to be met.

It's like this:

Advertising and marketing set the expectation. This is done through a brand promise which is set forth in ads, signage, identity, decor etc. Consumers see this promise and decide whether or not to engage with your brand. This decision is based on fact and emotion - your advertising needs to prey and deliver on both.

Staff and product deliver the expectation. This is done through interaction with employees (or other peoples employees) and hands on experience with your product and/or brand. When the consumer decides to engage with your brand, they become a customer. If what you've promised in your brand promise is not delivered then you have lost a repeat customer. The ability for your brand to grow past a single transaction is difficult and requires more advertising to get single transaction business.

So advertising works. If you have a good brand strategy, you can milk every ad for more than a single transaction. But that takes continuity and good marketing sense.

Learn why your customer uses and trusts your brand and you will better understand their expectation... even though you have been setting it, you may find the results differ from even your own expectations.

So, when it comes to your advertising and marketing - make sure the carpet matches the drapes.

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