A Really Limited-Time Offer

The department that writes marketing campaign headlines at Walmart clearly isn’t the same department that designs the automated app marketing:

A Really Limited-Time Offer

Make Mom Happy! Until Saturday, that is. After Saturday, Mom will have to fend for herself.

Consider this weekly ad from Walmart a friendly reminder to always test your automated marketing, mail merge settings and other customer communications before they reach your audiences.

Before Choosing a Business Name, Run it by a Teenage Boy First

Or you might miss unfortunate innuendo. Fallas looks like a perfectly fine name… until you say it out loud.

Before Choosing a Business Name, Run it by a Teenage Boy First

This probably wouldn’t be my first choice when shopping for school uniforms.

The “Teenage Boy” test might seem unconventional, but it could just save your marketing and branding from public ridicule.

Charity Cross-Promotion FAIL

Often, a good marketing strategy includes teaming up with a charitable organization. It’s a promotion that’s good for everyone– the charity receives donations for its cause; the business gets a great marketing message, and customers feel good about helping out.

When crafting the marketing message, it’s important to be tasteful, use tact, emphasize the cause over your own gain and clearly explain how customers’ actions will help the cause. In other words, the message should be the opposite of this:

This graphic is the header to an email sent out by an insurance company promoting a move to paperless statements. How the marketers failed to see it’s also offensive, I don’t know. Here’s what’s wrong with it (and what all businesses should avoid in charitable cross-promotions):

  1. It’s obviously self-serving and doesn’t name the charity. Getting customers to “Go paperless” is likely one of this company’s goals. The main goal of a charitable cross-promotion should be to promote the charity.
  2. It has overtones of guilt. The implied message is, “If you don’t go paperless, you won’t be helping someone with cancer.” Charitable cross-promotions should never insult or try to coerce customers.
  3. It’s confusing. How can going paperless possibly help someone with cancer? The action should be tied to the cause. We’ve all seen this promotion work when the message is more like, “Save a tree by going paperless.”

For this company, cross-promoting with a charity completely failed. I hope the charity benefits, but the business and customers won’t.

Sales Promotion FAIL

Sales promotions are a popular part of the marketing mix. Sales promotions can be a great way to build awareness about your brand, reward loyal customers or just eliminate excess stock.

Except this one. It is a sales promotion fail.

I saw this 5% off book at an otherwise amazing independent bookstore in Columbus, OH. If customers don’t want to read Soul Pancake for $19.99, do you think they would be motivated if the price were $18.99? It would be more than a dollar’s worth of hassle just getting that stubborn sticker off the cover. This paltry sales promotion seems calculated to make customers laugh, not buy the book.

When planning sales promotions, make sure the offer is meaningful to the customer. Consider the customer’s context – in a world where Amazon sells a book for 41% off publisher’s list price, offering a 5% discount simply highlights that this bookstore’s prices are higher. This bookstore should not compete on price – they will lose every time. They need to give customers something that Amazon can’t – an experience, a feeling or a relationship.