Hounding Customers With the Same Offer Is Not “Marketing”​

1940s Greeting card, showing salesman trying to get foot in door into woman's home

Salon called it the most overused cliché of all time.* And they are probably right. But I am still going to use it anyway because it best describes a serious problem I've seen in sales and marketing.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (And no, Einstein did not say it.)

In this case it's trying to upsell your existing customers with the same offer way too often, figuring that if you do it enough times, they'll simply cave and make the purchase.

For some companies there does not appear to be a concept of "too often".  My cable provider is a textbook case. They've been sending me the exact same promotion every two to three weeks. And – no joke – this has been going on for years.

Yes, I said years.

I'm writing this with all of the offers that I've received from them in just the past three months sitting in front of me. And there are six of them. Each was a separate mailing, and not an insert in their monthly bills.

Ever since I've signed with this company to get only their Internet service, they've been trying to convince me to upgrade to their bundle of Internet, TV and phone. The speed never changes, the features never change and the price never changes.

You have to wonder if the people in their marketing department had lax and easily influenced parents when they were growing up, so they think that what worked for them as children will still work today.

Can I have a cookie?

– No.

Can I have a cookie?

– No.

Can I have a cookie? 

– I said no.

Please, can I have a cookie?

– No!

Please? PLEASE? I want a cookie!

– All right. Here's one. Just be quiet. (While thinking to themselves "here's your stupid cookie!")

And so, just like that pleading child, their offers continue to arrive in my mailbox like clockwork. Three of the six were a single sheet of paper that were identical except for the reply-by deadline. Two others were a matched pair with an introduction on pink paper to get my attention, plus had a special "Eligibility Notification" attached to a third sheet. The third variation came from the desk of the Vice President of Marketing with an attached "business card" for their Sales Specialist Team. Surprisingly, unlike some ad campaigns, this V.P. was not a fictitious person. Not only is she real, she can also be found on LinkedIn. 

When these arrive at the rate of twice a month, it's hard to take seriously phrases such as this being a "limited time offer" and that I am being given a "preferred rate" for the next year. (But nowhere do they ever tell you what the exact regular higher dollar amount will be when that year is up.) 

Isn't the whole idea of marketing to understand the needs of your customers and to provide them with the solutions they need? In my case I am not interested in television, nor do I have any desire to give up my land line. You're not going to beat me into submission, so stop trying to force this same package on me. 

Do you recognize this same type of action being conducted by your company or organization? If so, then you need to make a serious evaluation of your current marketing programs. Be brutal and honest as to whether they are really working effectively and if they are best serving your customers – or if they are putting your group in the best possible light. Otherwise you run the risk of perhaps alienating your customers as well.

The sad thing is, every time I get another one of these "new" offers from my cable provider, a little bit of anger also rises within me.

Because I can't help but wonder how much lower my Internet bill might be if there wasn't the added expense every two weeks associated with paying for printing and then mailing out the exact same offer while occasionally also creating new ad copy.

One thing is for sure. They can't ever claim to be a "green" company – even if they might be using recycled paper.


© 2017 Michael Marrer, Silver Lake Wordsmiths & Marrer Enterprises, Inc.


* Daniel D'Addario, "'The definition of insanity' is the most overused cliché of all time," Salon, August 6, 2013.  Read here.

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