Sometimes there are moments that make me realize why I started to work in direct marketing. A few days ago I went to an optician to have my glasses repaired.
I handed them the glasses, they checked customer data and I was told to come back some days later to pick up the repaired item. Not even five minutes passed after leaving the store I received this short text message (translated and paraphrased):
Exclusively for YOU in April!
FREE spectacle frame (max. €99,90)
with your purchase of new glasses
at your XYZXY store until 04/30/2010.
This short text message = voucher
Clearly, turning in my spectacles for repair had triggered the text message. If my glasses hadn’t been a sad little backup set, I probably would have turned back checked out the glasses at their shop.
When I started in my job, this was and is what I aim for: to turn direct advertising into meaningful communication and substantial offers. I have seen lots of case studies across the world, but this is the first good example from Austria. It is simple, but well thought out: When do you know whether a customer in your database might be considering new glasses? Answer: when he brings the glasses in for repair. There are many similar triggers one could think of that enable a company to offer the right thing at the right time.
Some people might see such an offer as intrusive, sending a text directly like this, but I disagree: A good offer is never intrusive. The problem with direct is in most cases the information is irrelevant and the offers are neither good nor in response to the consumer’s need. Like my father’s bank who keep offering me great conditions for everything. I don’t even have a bank account there and my father has already told them that they have the wrong number. To top all things off, all texts come with personal greetings to my dad from my dad’s bank consultant whom I have never met. This sort of intrusive, impersonal, irrelevant, careless and totally unwanted communication attempts constitute 99% of direct marketing.
A good offer comes at the right time. The question to ask here is: When is a good time to make an offer? In Austria obviously, all car companies twice a year advertise winter/summer tire changing offers in spring, respectively autumn. For products that don’t fall under a specific season or time, there are rarely ideas on what to do. A good offer goes beyond holidays, Christmas Season, Valentine’s Day and incorporates more than „Hey, you visited our website! Here is some advertising since you seem interested!“
I recall a second hand account about a building company that had amassed ten thousands of potential customers from fairs and advertising in their database over a period of ten years. Sounds great, but this happened because nobody had ever deleted the outdated prospects (who had built their houses) from the database. Now the database is essentially useless since only a fraction of people on their lists are still potential customers, because nobody asked „When?“. Looking at a costumer database, posing the question correctly offers the trigger and the right moment. Mostly it will go along the lines of: „How do I know X needs Y?“, „How can I tell Z is looking for Y?“.
I needed new glasses, because I brought my old ones to have them repaired (little could they know these were only my backup glasses). How do I know the client built a new home? Because the address has changed. How do I know he might still be a prospect? Because the address is still the same. (For the aforementioned company the problem is to filter tens of thousands of addresses efficiently – they will have to pick up a lump of money just to clear the duds from their database)
The tools and information are there, yet so few companies make use of it. Most still send generic mails to people with individual needs. Does anyone wonder that someone doesn’t bother buying Nokia accessories advertised in a mailing because they own an iPhone?
The more impressive I found this little text, because it showed that someone considered what I might need.