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Please please please let me get what I want

November 16, 2007

The theme for this holiday shopping season seems to be “desperation”.  With the price of gas and home heating oil soaring, and the housing market shakier than a bowl of jell-o, there’s a lot of belt tightening forthcoming from the average consumer.  That’s bad news to retailers who need a strong holiday season to recoup their less than stellar sales this year. 

The IT household is getting 5-10 coupon offers per day in the regular mail, and even more via email.  It’s more than the usual Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon carpet-bombing (they send out so many 20% off coupons, and don’t limit how many you can use in the store, so I simply assume everything is priced at 20% higher than it should be).  The Gap, Kohl’s, Children’s Place, Limited Too, Justice, LL Bean, and more have been double and triple sending me offers.  I feel like the prettiest girl in school right before the homecoming dance.  Except they’re just after my money, which is the ultimate buzz-killer. 

In a related vein, I’ve been reading about retailers starting to use text messaging to alert customers about sales and special offers.  I’m never sure how effective these are.  You don’t get that much room for your message, so it has to be super targeted.  Are you asking the customer to come into a store, or buy online?  Neither is the perfect redirect.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually encouraging our marketers to come up with a strategy for integrating mobile marketing into our campaigns this year, so I’m not totally poo-pooing it.  I just want to find a way to make it work.

The only text messaging that has spurred me to make a purchase was Modell’s, a sporting goods chain in the NYC area.  I signed up for their text alerts after seeing a Jumbotron message at Shea Stadium – text GOMOS or something like that to a number and you were entered into a sweepstakes, and oh, while you are there, do you want text messages from Mo’s?  Sure, I accepted, sounded like an idea.  Since then, which was about 6 months ago, I’ve gotten exactly 2 texts.  They say something like, come in to a Mo’s in the next 4 days and get 15% off your purchase when you reference code MO123XX (not real).  I don’t get them enough to remember them, but it turned out I got a text right before I needed to buy Little IT her new soccer gear, so it was the case of right message at the right time.  I’d hardly call them a marketing success story, as in my situation they got lucky. 

We want to integrate something like this into our “Dummies Month” promotion next March, where bookstores everywhere promote the heck out the Dummies product line.  Finding the right way to do it, so customers get the message and purchase is going to be a challenge.  Any success stories out there that people want to share?

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