The Modern Day Consumer and Discounts

This blog was founded on the idea that the world has seen a shift in power from the company to the consumer. We’ve discussed how this shift was fueled by the internet, e-commerce, and social media, and how it continues to be influenced through the mass acceptance of online reviews, which now show up on almost every site.

The modern day consumer is in charge of commerce, and they know it. The majority of consumers, at least the ones who spend the most, know that they have all the power in the relationship they have with the companies they buy from. And they’ve started using this power more and more. Some business owners would say they’re abusing this power.

Discounts and sales used to be special occurrences. No more. Today’s consumers know where to look for discounts and sales when they want them. The smart ones won’t buy anything at full price. And as business owners and marketers, we’ve taken the bait. We offer more sales and more discounts than ever before, to satisfy the consumer need to pay less than full price.

Daily deals companies like Groupon and LivingSocial have capitalized on this trend, essentially forcing companies to deeply discount their products and services in order to sell to the mass markets. There are sites like RetailMeNot, where consumers share discount codes with one another.

And now, even if you do make a sale at full price, you have not cleared the discount hurdle. The availability of discount coupons online often make a customer who has already made a purchase call back and ask for a discount to be applied retroactively. And it’s getting tougher and tougher to have a strict refund or discount policy in customer service departments, because one wrong move can lead to a consumer with a lot of clout spreading a bad review around the web.

Companies are walking a fine line, feeling the pressure to satisfy each and every customer – even when the request is unreasonable – in order to avoid some future disaster.

Should companies fight back against this shift in power to consumers? Is there any way to do this in the digital age? These are questions I ask myself, and some that I would love to hear your thoughts on as well.

The Art of Copywriting: Highlight Text

Copywriting is a big part of marketing. If you are part of a large organization, you might have someone whose job it is to write all of the marketing copy. If you work independently, or market for a small business, the onus is probably on you.

In the past month I’ve written two posts on the art of copywriting for those of you who are looking to take your copywriting skills to the next level. The first one was all about making your marketing copy readable. The second focused on the need to use positive language.

Today, I wanted to focus on another aspect of copywriting, which will go a long way to improving the effectiveness of any message. Though it might sound stupid (or overly obvious), there are pieces of any text that are more important than the rest. And by calling those areas of interest to the reader’s attention, you can make the key points of the message stand out that much more.

Underline, Bold, Color

Tell the reader what you want them to read. It’s easy for someone to say, “I wrote the entire thing because I want people to read what it says.” But the truth is, as we’ve pointed out time and time again, people will read what they want to read. And their time is the most valuable thing in the world to them. So instead of cutting out parts of the message, make sure the most important things jump off the page.

This applies to marketing emails, print advertisements, website copy, direct mail, etc. Major differences in the text will stand out, and draw the attention of the reader’s eye. Therefore, you can make the words/phrases Act Now, or Value, or Reliability more powerful than it would be if it were simply included in line with the rest of your text.

By making the reader aware of the key points you’re making with visual clues, you’re making it that much more likely that they will take SOMETHING away from the message.

Be One Thing for One Person

In the old school days of advertising, the fashionable thing to do was to try to be all things for all people. If an ad campaign appealed to the masses, it had the potential to be a game changer for the company it represented.  Choices were limited, and attention was easier to get.  Advertising success was defined by effective messages that reached the greatest number of consumers.

I don’t find that to be true anymore.  In the digital age, consumers have more choices than ever before, and are able to find those choices easier than ever before.

Today, the goal is to try to be one thing for one person.

Now I know that might cause some upheaval in the marketing world, because if you spend that much time and effort on each individual sale, how do you ever expect to grow or be profitable. So the trick is break it down.

Consumers are individuals.  This might seem obvious, but it’s actually a fairly new phenomenon. The “I” of the consumer refers to the sense of self and freedom each of us have to find, research, talk to and talk about companies we’re interested in.

As companies, you need to understand this and work within this new framework. New tools and technologies allow you to craft messages that are unique to the reader, viewer, lead, or potential customer. Your email can be unique, your ad copy can be unique, and your product can be unique, all without spending enormous amounts of time and energy creating them.

Google Adwords allows you to include actual search phrases in your ads. iContact allows you to include personal data that you’ve collected to change the content of emails you send out. And custom pricing schemes allow you to show the consumer that you’re service is built to fit them and not the other way around.

So be one thing for one person, and apply that to all the people in your targeted audience.  Success will follow.

"I" of the Consumer Week in Review

After a week in the Pacific Northwest, my first week back in New York City was a strange one.  Readjusting to the time zone takes longer than expected, but at least we’re finally able to enjoy the warmth and energy of Spring out here.

Here is a look at the past week’s blog posts that you may have missed:

  1. Incentivize Everything! New Customers
  2. Featured Marketing Products and Services
  3. Introducing the Paying Pirate
  4. Lost and Found: Guest Posts by Zach Heller

Happy Sunday!

Consumer vs. Customer: is there a difference?

The answer is yes, if you ask me.  But to make things simple:

Consumer = Customer on a global level

Customer is a word that many people are much more comfortable with.  The difference, for these purposes, is that when I use the word customer, I am talking specifics.

A person can be a customer of a particular brand or business, but they cannot be a customer in general.  A consumer, is anyone who is a customer of any brand or business.  I am a Whole Foods customer, I am not a Netflix customer.  But I am, and will always be, a consumer.

As a marketer, I am trying to attract new customers from a worldwide (depending on the business) pool of consumers.