A plethora of offers

Is that the right collective noun?

It’s January.  It’s freezing.  We have no money left after Christmas.  So of course, we are being handed vouchers and offers, left right and centre.

My phone, inbox and wallet are all abundant with ways for me to save money.  As long as I am prepared to spend.  I have seen so many this week that I must sadly admit to having lost track of their respective cut-off dates and conditions.  Useless failure of a consumer that I am.  Which ones are meant to be keeping me loyal, and which are meant to be pulling me in to try something new?  I forget.

My phone provider is offering me a free pack of posh crisps from Budgens.  I don’t have a local Budgens.  According to their app, the nearest one is 55.0 miles away.  Or I could enter a draw and win two rugby tickets for Twickenham. I don’t follow rugby.  Or I could get a Superman book from WHS.  At least that’s only 0.3 miles away – oh wait, that was for yesterday.  But next on the list is an upgrade for Evernote, to enjoy their Premium service.  Great! A service I actually use. On I click.  Except 4 days later with the offer showing as ‘used’ I still can’t get in to the Premium features.  I don’t really have the time to chase that one down.  Anyone short of a Serengeti hunter would have given up and gone home long ago.

There are currently two high-street banks and three other non-financial service providers who offer me ‘a range of partner offers’ on an on-going basis.  Sometimes I remember to sift through them, sometimes I forget.  All of them are household names with long-established reputations and operating systems.  And yet on several occasions when I have tried to redeem one of their vouchers, the good people at the till have no knowledge of it. How does this make me feel about the brand who are facilitating the partner offers?  Like they should stick to their day job.

Big data and technological advance are wonderful tools to have at our disposal as business owners.  But without a depth of customer understanding sitting alongside them, even the most up-to-date data manipulation can create frustration out of something meant to build appeal.

So whose vouchers do I use on a regular basis?  No surprise, the ones from brands I feel affiliated to already.  The ones who send vouchers I can redeem automatically or easily.  Booths, John Lewis and Waterstones all make me feel rewarded.  It means I buy less from Amazon, Tesco and Debenhams.  Despite holding loyalty offers from all of them.

Sometimes, I use a brand’s vouchers just because they offer me something really valuable.  Van Cleef & Arpels isn’t on this list, but Caffe Nero is.  With my 2-colour printed, paper loyalty card I get my 10th coffee “absolutely free” on a regular basis, despite having a wide array of decent coffee shops to choose from.  So at the weekend I can enjoy an hour of complete immersion in the day’s news from the papers on the communal rack; or check my emails with their free wifi service as I drink my ‘soup bowl’ of cappuccino with or without the pastry that wasn’t on my list of New Year’s Resolutions.  That’s an offer I can’t refuse.

If you’re handing out vouchers to customers, please bear in mind:

– Everyone likes something for free, but everyone is offering something for free – so why should people take up ‘your’ offer? Keep it simple, make it relevant.

– It’s not just about the coup of landing a high-profile partner offer, it’s about how you apply that deal so end customers actually get real value out of it.

– People won’t continue to buy from you after that initial discounted purchase, if they don’t like the rest of what they experience – so don’t waste your time, until the rest of the pieces are in place.

To find out more about how we apply customer understanding to fuel innovation, come and see us at ProlificNorthLive on 2nd February.  Stand 52.

Jane Dalton,
Groundswell Innovation