Beware Overpromising

We have all heard it a millions times. Seriously.

One of the rules of marketing is to underpromise and overdeliver, and it is always amazing to me how some salespeople overpromise in order to close the deal or inflate the value of their “network”.

I have an acquaintance who would inflate details and overpromise what they can deliver in order to close deals or give the perception that they are more connected than they are.

For example, an angel investor in their words might become a venture capital investor. $10 million in capital might become $100 million with their framing.

This is setting yourself up for no repeat business, because you will always underdeliver, leaving customers disappointed and wanting to look elsewhere. It is people like these who give marketers and salespeople a bad name of overpromising.

If you are currently utilizing this practice, I urge you to rethink whether this will bring you sustainable wealth and revenue streams in the long-term; my speculation is that it will not.

Loyalty Programs – Does Yours Actually Retain Customers? 

Look. We all know it’s tough to attract new customers, and it’s even harder to keep them. With the large amount of new brands popping up each year in every industry imaginable, it’s more important than ever to maintain customer relations.

  
Who does a great job to keep wallets open? Hudson’s Bay. 

  • Daily contact through email notifying customers of the latest deals. 
  • Daily deals with steep discounts like 50%-70% off an exclusive item. 
  • Direct mailers with exclusive deals for VIPs.
  • Money spent in store collects points that can be used as cash to purchase additional items in store. Just keep shopping!

What happens when you take these steps? 

  1. Customers receive news regarding in-store promotions and exclusive deals through multiple channels – email, direct mail, social media. 
  2. The deals are real. We’ve all been there, the fake sales. A large SALE sign decorates the storefront, but when you go in it’s the last rack at the very back that’s on sale and each item is only $5 off the original price of $90. At Hudson’s Bay you actually get the 50% off and the additional 30%. Crazy but real.
  3. What? The money I spent here earns 4x points and I can redeem them to use as cash in store towards that new Kate Spade bag I really want? Fantastic. 

Who could use some improvment? Sephora. 

  
Though Sephora also follows the key points of keeping multiple communication channels open, offering gifts/free samples in exchange for points collected, they could use some help in event planning. 

As part of the Sephora customer loyalty program they offer exclusive events to what they call VIB (Beauty Insider) and VIB Rouge members.

Though VIB members spend over $1000 per year in stores and online, exclusive events tailored to these VIB Rouge members often hit “capacity”. So if these VIPs are slow to RSVP they actually don’t get to enjoy the benefits as promised. 

As experienced event planners, our suggestion to Sephora to improve their customer loyalty program would be to plan ahead. If you know there are 500 VIB Rouge members in your immediate store area, prepare for that amount of attendance and more. Setting an arbitrary capacity and turning away your VIPs for events that are supposed to be exclusive to them is bad business. It shows the customer how it’s more important to make it convenient for your staff to organize the event than to ensure all your loyal customers stay happy. 

The problem is resolved quite easily. Too many members in the area? Host the event for 2 days to ensure they can all attend. Not enough VIPs to justify the cost of extending your store hours for both days and paying extra for additional staff? First, let me call BS on that because your customers will come to spend way more money than the cost of having your staff there for extended hours. Second, you can just start the event earlier or end later to accommodate more attendees. 

This is just laziness on the brand’s part. So what happens when every year they accumulate more VIPs? More VIPs will be turned away from these exclusive events that were meant as a benefit for them. How counter intuitive. It’s a problem they should address if they want to keep growing their customers’ spending with their stores. 

So ask yourself. Is your customer loyalty program actually keeping customers? Does every component of the program show the customer that they are valued? Do you deliver on your stated membership benefits? 

What Happens When Your Company is Fueled by Sheer Laziness

A lot of times as your company grows, it’s impossible to micro manage and see what happens at every branch of your company, and the bigger the company gets, the majority of them move slower.

Even more unfortunate is the layer of staff who try to get by without doing much; even worse is when that energy and experience is passed on and delivered to your end customers.

Case in point: I am traveling back from Brussels to Vancouver via Montreal. The connection time is tight with a one-hour window. During this one hour connection time we have to pick up our checked luggage, clear customs, and go through security again in Montreal to board our domestic flight.

Concerned that we would not catch our connection, I asked the counter staff at Air Canada (it is a miracle they are still operating as they seem to be in the business of coordinating delays rather than flights) whether they could assist by switching us to the next flight out of Montreal to Vancouver as I am 99% sure we won’t make the connection. At this point our flight leaving Brussels had already been delayed by close to an hour.

My conversation with the staff:
“Will we be able to make the connection and if not can you switch us to the next flight?”
[converses with each other in French]
“We think you may have to hurry but it should be OK.”
“Ummm..Ok.”

Needless to say as our plane touched down in Montreal, it was the same time our flight to Vancouver departed. We then had to make an extra visit to the counter to get arranged on the next flight which meant an additional 4 hours of lost productivity.

Luckily for me I am able to work somewhat remotely, but how about for others who actually depend on airlines to be “on time”? In an industry plagued by delays and cancellations, it has become the norm for travellers to expect the worse.

The staff in Brussels could have done something for us instead of acting out of sheer laziness and passing the responsibility onto their colleagues in Montreal.

Little details such as this translates into poor customer experience and the culture of procrastination permeates throughout the organization. So far it’s evident Air Canada suffers from this “disease”.

The takeaway is to manage your company’s culture as it grows to avoid the slow-moving, lazy tendency of a corporate giant. I will close with a quote on the topic:

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Does Your Company Host “Sincere” Sales?

Do you host sincere sales or fake sales that don't even cover the cost of tax?

Do you host sincere sales or fake sales that don’t even cover the cost of tax?

Does your company host “sincere” sales?

What do we mean by this? How many times have you walked by a storefront lured in by the sign that says everything including the cash register is on sale and you walk in to find hilarious savings of…10%? I have been on both sides of the fence buying and selling so there is no bias here. When I propose a 10% discount off on retail customers say it doesn’t even save the tax – and I agree with them.

Don’t treat your customers like idiots.

Let’s take the most recent Black Friday Sales as an example. For those who frequent the mall once a month, you would notice that some stores continually have sales like 40% off your first item, Friends and Family sale 40% off, 30% off your entire purchase throughout the month of October and November. Come Black Friday, which is THE major shopping day for the US (and now apparently Canada), when your sale signs are $20 off $200, $30 off $300… of better yet, 30% off select items…if your store is one of these then don’t expect people to stroll in and open their wallets on Black Friday.

Don’t complain about slow sales on THE shopping day of the year if you can’t offer sincere sales. Remember! YOU HAVE COMPETITION! If customers see that you have sales every week, or even every month that are roughly the same as your Black Friday offer, then don’t expect us to waste time shopping your store on the big sale date, because other stores who don’t usually have sales, are making us a better offer.

Here’s an example. ZARA never has sales. This past Black Friday ZARA was 30% off the entire store. Where did a lot of people go to spend their money? ZARA. TOPSHOP rarely has large discounts. They had 50% off outerwear and sweaters on Black Friday.

The point is, YOU condition your customers. if you have sales every week, NO ONE will ever buy your items at full price (and they won’t believe your products carry the full-priced value). If you never have a sale and you have a decent offer (this means 30%+ off) then you can expect heavy sales traffic. I know this all depends on “policies” from headquarters, but if you are an independent store who has control over when to have your sales and what sales to offer your customers, please show your customers some sort of sales planning so we are happier when you do throw a sale and are more willing to shop with you.

Do Your Customers Rave (or Rage) about Your Product?

What the Marketer Saw - Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

What the Marketer Saw – Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

You want your customers to have an opinion about your product – whether they hate it or love it. You probably want it to be the latter but either way, a middle of the road product is exactly that – going nowhere. Stagnant. Nobody gives a sh*t.

Here are a few brands I rave about:
– my gel nails (no joke) I get at least one compliment on it per day. I spend $40 and I can keep my nails, No chipped nails, for one full month.
– Zara: the best brand to integrate fast fashion trends into your wardrobe, whether it be casual or work wear. Yes I work as a stylist, no Zara is not a designer label, and yes I tell everyone it’s my favorite store.
– The Truffle meatball spaghetti at The Italian Kitchen on Alberni Street. Enough said.
– Pinterest. Admit it we can all stay on there for days scrolling through photos if we didn’t have to do more “life” things like eat, work and sleep. (Luckily for me a lot of my work is on social media).

From my examples above, evidently my passion lies in food and fashion; the key idea is you want your brand to energize your customer – when they talk about you their eyes come alive, they do an incessant amount of hand waving as they talk and tell everyone from their mom to their friend’s friend about how great you are.

Is it doing that?