As the holidays are about to ho ho hose down every magazine, newspaper, television and digital channel with promotions, coupons, specials and deals - retailers will always have the same thought, "I hope this works."
Certainly specials and coupon ideas have made their way to the drawing board in brainstorming sessions (from people who are not the consumers); ideas were kept, ideas were thrown out. In many cases ideas were not even stated, however, at the end of the day an offer is decided upon, graphics are made (in many different sizes), they are proofed, ad rates are negotiated, the ads run over ($$$), and over ($$$), and over ($$$) and hopefully the deal resonates with your audience and you don't wind up losing money to your competitor. Sounds like a fool-proof plan for the crazy.
Let's take a look at social media (cue the hero music). Sure social media is there for you to post your non-engaging coupon right between tweets about tonight's Thunder game and a baby photo of their niece, but why use it like that? People are on social because people are social.
People don't like to see brands posting in all CAPS with "!!!" and "Holy Cow" deals thrown at them on social media (unless it's recommended to them from friends/family). They are on social media to avoid the clutter of coupon clippings and fast-forwarding of commercials. They're on social media to see, hear and interact. How/why would someone interact with "Come in to the store and get 10% off!!!" They can't/won't. They'll quickly realize that you're asking them to:
- Put down your phone/laptop (no need to communicate/be social with us)
- Drive across town (where it's illegal to be social with us while driving)
- Find a parking spot (get frustrated)
- Walk in
- Get in line (where you'll complain about being frustrated on social)
- Purchase something
- Leave and go away
This is not social media - and businesses still operating this way on social will continue to be the ones saying "Social is not for us," because social media done that way is not for anyone.
Be social. As a consumer you're probably going to buy gifts this year. Where are you going to buy them? Perhaps from the businesses that have the best specials/coupons, right? Who determines what the best is? The companies? No. The people do. The people determine what the best specials are - because they are the ones buying them. If your "Special" is not special to the consumer, then your special is just not special - no matter how many times you tell them it is.
Want to know what specials your consumers actually think are special?
- Ask your consumers (they are the right people to determine them).
- How? On social media.
- Have a contest to figure out what specials they want, not what you think they want.
- Want to take it a step further? Have dozens of offers that they can choose from individually - they'll choose the offer that suits them - then they're hooked. They're invested in the offer. Then to "validate" their decision-making, they'll more than likely share their decision on social with their friends/family that more than likely have similar interests/needs that they do.
- Result: Many happy customers. Many happy tweeting customers. Many happy Facebooking customers. Many happy blogging customers. Many happy (enter social media platform) customers.
Will they have to drive there? Probably, but through social you can tell them you'll hold the item for them (further making them invested in the purchase decision), have a social checkout counter/line at the store for those you've communicated with online. You will be showing them what customer care really is.
Marketing can be great, but only when you offer the right thing to the right person at the right time. Anything else is just hoping.