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.”

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:


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?

If You Don’t Love Your Job – Please Quit


If you don’t love your job, please quit.

For owners/bosses – if you sense that your employees hate working here, please fire them. 

The benefit is that they can move on to find a better job. The bigger benefit is that you can move on to finding an employee who won’t lower your customer service standards. Think about it, if they hate their job, it will reflect on a daily basis when they are interacting with YOUR customers, who ultimately pays the bills (AND their salaries).

  1. Customer service problem? Who cares about you. I hate my job anyway. 
  2. Your food is late for half an hour? Well. I guess you’ll just have to wait.
  3. OH. Where is my 18% tip? (Goes through every server’s head even when they provide bad service.)

Case in point. I was at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art looking for a quick bite so I can continue my tour. We were promptly seated and I signaled for a server to take our order. The waitress, or at least what she appeared to be, according to me, was circling around on her feet in the same area with her head down (she must be enjoying her job don’t you think?)

She catches me out of the corner of her eye. Now, the usual response would be “I’ll get you your server right away”. The actual response was “THAT’S your server. I’M NOT a server.” She then left me to wave down my server as she continued circling in the same spot. Great location. Great art. You know what? The bad experience I had at the restaurant cancelled out the rest of the great experience I had at the museum, because whenever I talk about the museum now, I will unconsciously bring up this poor experience to my friends as well. 

Do you want the above scenarios to be daily occurrences in YOUR business? If not, I would suggest that you send them on their way. 

Marketing Commentary – Radio Campaign (a review of weak marketing arguments)


I listen to the radio while I drive to and from work, and the past week I kept hearing these radios ads for the campaign. 

The gist: A large mobile giant is looking to start operations here, resulting in increased competition in the telecommunications industry (which in my opinion, is fantastic because I am a believer of survival of the fittest).

The radio ads that are part of this campaign highlight:

  1. How it’s not fair that the incoming competition gets to leverage off years of investment that the existing Canadian companies have built for over 2 decades.
  2. The other argument is that there may be the possibility that small towns may be “forgotten” – not sure what that means given if there is already reception there, there will always be reception there(?)

Not sure if there are other ads part of this campaign but with these two reasons I have already heard enough. 

Here’s what I get from listening to these ads – I hear a big baby whining about how life’s not fair. Newsflash: THE WORLD ISN’T FAIR.

The two highlighted campaign points are weak marketing arguments. 

  1. Infrastructure: So when you build an airport, built with taxpayers’ money, and then more airlines start landing their planes there – is that not fair? How about when we invest to build roads and more cars use it? Is that not fair? How about companies who invest in building tech parks and then smaller developers and vendors start building around the fringe of it to attract business to themselves? Is that not fair? I think you see where I’m going with this. It’s just silly.
  2. Forgetting about small towns? Again…someone enlighten me as to why a large company coming in will mean no service for the small towns. 

I think this campaign may be a two-part rollout. I heard previous radio ads where they use 30-seconds to argue how “CHEAP” Canadian voice and data plans are in comparison to US companies. I don’t know whether they compared the exact same plans, because from what I’m paying right now it appears that Canada voice and data plans are outrageously expensive in comparison. Having conducted market research for corporations in the past, I understand how numbers could be manipulated prior to being used for marketing purposes – this radio ad also infuriated me. It didn’t help at the time that I was (and probably still am) being charged by Rogers a ridiculous amount for 500MB of monthly data. 

Let me convince you with numbers. Here’s what I could be getting in the US:

Basically what I have as part of my plan right now (I am paying well over $100) I could get in the US for $35 (and that’s 2.5GB of data vs. the meager 500MB I am stuck with).

Now THAT is not fair. 

A Recommended Tip – Pricing Strategy

Having killed my feet over the long weekend, I headed for a shoulder and foot massage today. It was my first time at the location and I was told the price is $36 for an hour – not a bad price at all.

So I enjoyed an hour of relaxation and proceeded to the cashier to pay. I gave the person a $100 bill so they could break it and give me back $40, leaving a roughly 10% tip. The cashier gives me a funny look and I explained again how he can just give me back $60, thinking the $4 tip was a reasonable tip; it got to a point where I thought he couldn’t add or subtract, until he points to a piece of printer paper behind his shoulder that says “We recommend a tip of $10.”

Let’s run through the numbers. For me to pay $46 for a $36 massage would mean that I was tipping 28%. That does not make sense to me. If you want to charge $46 you might as well have worked that into the pricing instead of recommending an insanely large tip.

Never hide your costs until the very end of providing a service/product, it’s a major turn-off to customers you want to avoid.