‘Tis the season to be jolly well inundated with special offers and promos. Three promos I received today (along with a long-standing wish) made me ponder the art of creating good promotions and the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Promotion One – Ill-conceived
I had to refuel my car today and, stupidly, chose to do it at lunchtime. I went to the local Tesco filling station so that I could use my "5p off per litre" voucher. The queues were long, caused in part by empty cars whose owners were in the kiosk, standing in another queue to pay. I finally got to the pump and filled up before joining the queue to pay and redeem my £2 worth of discount.
Now, Tesco have recently invested in upgrading their Pay At Pump facility. I’ve always been a fan because – fairly obviously – it avoids queuing for me and improves throughput and wage costs for Tesco. So. Why on earth would you create a promo voucher which cannot be used in the Pay at Pump facility? It makes no sense. The new pumps are equipped with laser scanners to recognise Tesco Points cards. They have a keyboard input too. Why can’t the voucher be redeemed at the pump? The consequence of the promotion is to enforce undesired behaviour in the customer. Strikes me as insane.
Promotion Two – Possibly misdirected
I visited my local Waterstones bookshop and received a bookmark with a money-off voucher. However, the voucher can only be redeemed at Waterstones online. I presume that they are trying to encourage users to visit their website rather than Amazon (more of which later) which is fair enough but I wonder if the audience they are targeting (people who actually use bricks and shelves book shops) are those they really want to change behaviour.
Is there a risk of driving customers from their expensive High Street presence into the virtual world? The answer may depend on brand loyalty but once you’re online, the differences between waterstones.com and amazon.com can easily come down simply to price.
Promotion Three – Lovely
In the post today (busy day), a mail-shot from the exquisite Hotel Chocolat (who must surely be regretting their heavy investment in high street stores). Along with the expected Christmas Catalogue, a "ready-made" Christmas List which included a list of everyone for whom I’d sent a gift last year. By going online, I can access this information along with what I gave last year and suggestions for this year. Easy. As marketing gurus are fond of saying, it’s all about delighting the customer. I’m quite delighted.
Why don’t Amazon do something similar?
As above, why don’t Amazon do something similar? I have an address book on amazon and send lots (and lots) of books, CDs, DVDs etc because I’m lazy, hate shopping and lack originality. A Christmas List, along with through the throughout the year reminders for birthdays etc (all based on my past buying and shipping patterns would be ideal. I would be delighted.
Actually – and here is my base wish – I would be delighted, if my amazon "Suggestions" list was not corrupted by items I had bought for others. Personally, I don’t want recommendations for Dora the Explorer or Star Wars figures (my family might). All it would need is a check box to say "I am buying this for someone else (even though I don’t want to use your gift service) and they could purge their suggestions and make them even more relevant.