6a00d8345233a569e200e54f6264d38833-800wiI may be alone in this, but I think it’s the nadir of bad form to troll for dates on when you are married. You may think you’re just trying to hedge your bets in case your marriage goes south, or to increase your list of leads, or maybe you’re a Congressbeing who has a compulsion to torpedo his own political career. Whatever the excuse; there isn’t one. And your spouse probably isn’t going to understand. But, of course, I don’t know her…yet.

Well, in commerce, it’s also bad form to troll for new customers in front of your old, loyal customers.

Of course, you know I have an example: Last week, while logging on to the New York Times, a big, fat, roadblock ad popped up announcing a promotion of so-many weeks digital subscription to the NYT for only $1.88 a week, considerably less than the $8.75 a week they currently automatically charge me. So, naturally, I lunged for the bait and spent the next several minutes entering in all my data, including my credit card information. It was only after I clicked “submit” (a curiously loaded marketing word) that I got an automated reply that I was ineligible because I was already a subscriber (paying full fare).  Oh, I’m sorry.

Aside from wasting 12.7 minutes of my time, I felt cuckolded. And (like any cuckold) stupid. I should have known the ad wasn’t for me. Just as your spouse should know your post is not for her.

I sent the NYT customer service department an e-mail sharing my hurt feelings and formally requesting that special  advertised promo rate (at the very least, to reward me for my loyalty and recompense me for my wasted time). Three days later, I got an e-mail telling me they “value” my readership and “welcome any feedback”, but no dice. I was told I was sent that e-mail in error (it wasn’t an e-mail, it was an ad, out there for all to see–but, okay, I shouldn’t have read it). Not “We’re sorry, let us make it up to you by offering you this special, limited time rate.” Not squat. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have read that ad.  But at least I know they value my readership.

Free Advice for All (Even My Paying Clients).

Here’s some free advice, something I usually charge big bucks for, but something  I’m also offering free to my paying clients. Get a pencil and a piece of paper. Here it is:

If you run a promo involving a price reduction, make it across the board. Don’t insult your existing customers for being loyal by only rewarding people who aren’t yet customers. The bad stink you spread by doing that will also lose you business. And since we are all sophisticated consumers, we know that once we’re in the CRM database we’ll be shunted aside in future promotions. This has happened to us all before. A lot.

Instead, show everybody, loyal customers and not-yet-customers alike, how generous you are.  Throw a promotion and invite everybody, even your loyal customers–even your spouse. Make them glad they’re your customers, or want to be, and want to tell their friends.

But if you aren’t generous, certainly don’t advertise it. And certainly don’t compound your marketing booboo to those you’ve insulted by telling them they weren’t invited.

But act on this advice today. It’s a limited time offer. Next month, I’ll charge you for it.

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