I was doing some much-needed purging of chaotic paperwork at home and in the office yesterday when I came across a cheque for $2.00 ($1.88 US!). The cheque was a reward that had been mailed to me months ago for some kind of survey, which I have no recollection of completing.
I was reminded of that Seinfeld episode in which Jerry gives Elaine $182 in cash for her birthday. Jerry and Elaine have recently embarked upon a “friends with benefits” relationship, and he is concerned that any gift other than cash will send the wrong message. However, much like my $2.00 cheque, the only message it does send is “I’m an idiot who doesn’t value our relationship.”
The point is that it’s a dangerous thing to reduce your relationship with a customer to a monetary gesture.
I’m sure the marketing team who dreamed up the promotion thought to themselves “Who doesn’t like cash?”, but really all I thought was how little effort they’d put into understanding their audience, and exactly how little value they put on my time. And while we’re at it, a cheque isn’t cash; it’s an annoying anacrhonism that requires me to walk to the ATM (which right now means suffering in the sweltering heat).
It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a better approach. Had they sent me a card allowing me to download a free track or two from iTunes, or a voucher for a free coffee, both of which have essentially the same monetary value, my reaction would have been much more positive. These small gestures carry with them a small but important gift of wellbeing, one that in most cases will pay off far beyond the nominal value of the reward. Even if the customer’s only reaction is “Oh, that’s nice”, its niceness lasts long after the reward itself is forgotten.
The platform we’re building enables marketers to create location-based campaigns, which we think is a great thing. However, we also think it’s critical that marketers don’t rely on the novelty of what is a relatively new approach to reaching consumers. The rules of good marketing continue to apply: know your audience; reach them with relevant, respectful and compelling messages.