You can see it coming as pundits line up to speak out against the excessive discounting being practiced by recession fighting sellers. A 20-car pile-up is about to happen.
People who wrote books and articles about aggressive promotional marketing to drive traffic and build business are seeking to stand out as they speak out against the avalanche of discount oriented advertising that they themselves promoted to fill up our mailboxes and the center of the Sunday paper. All of a sudden it seems that coupons, Groupons, freebies and discounts are ALL bad.
Casting those who provide mindless marketing services such as Groupon, and those who aggressively promote discounting as being stupid is just stupid. Companies that fabricate ridiculous offers that destroy their companies are probably destroying their companies in several other ways.The fact is that coupons have always been problematic. While distribution and redemption of coupons has risen dramatically since the downturn began, the rate of redemption was never more than a couple of percent to begin with. In my opinion, coupons should never be used because they re-open a psychic wound for many consumers who grew up or raised a family during the recession of the late 70′s. Instead, call them certificates – which are legitimate coupons when you think about it.
Seeking to fill the void behind pulling back on mindless marketing, brands are trying to become more meaningful. Is there really that much room in a consumers life for all that meaning? One has to wonder.
Remember that mindless marketing always has had a proper place, and always will. Just because a lot of people have become focused on driving top line revenue via promotions doesn’t mean they are all wrong. No, they aren’t all right, but they aren’t all wrong either.
Price driven promotional marketing can serve a good purpose when it is used to sort full-price customers from bottom-feeders who only buy when there’s a deal. Did you know that some of those full-price customers are also bottom feeders? Ask around and its hard to find anyone that isn’t ready to brag about the last great deal they got. It’s real. If you don’t provide a deal once in a while, someone else will and your customer WILL be attracted to it.
Meaningful marketing should be a core business strategy. Your business itself should have a core strength and point of differentiation for the consumer. The marketers job is to clarify and remind their customers of these, as well as to attract new consumers.
Growing a business requires a healthy balance of keeping current customers happy, bringing them back more frequently, maintaining margins, and attracting new customers. Just remember that even the richest consumers love a mindless deal once in a while, and the marketer who fails to provide it to them fails to keep their own best customers attention. There is a place for a little mindless marketing fun. Find yours.