Archive for category Advertising

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Text messageYou can put a lot of effort into promoting a service but if the reality does not live up to the promise you can do far more harm than good.

I have been having problems with my broadband at home so I rang the supplier.  We went through lots of tests as you do and the fault was pronounced as “fixed”.  We will send you a text message they said and if then problem is not fixed just text us and we will call you.  You will not have to call us and wait in a queue.

The text duly arrived and I was telling everybody what a wonderful service this was and recommending this particular supplier.

Now the problem was not fixed so I did send them a text.  I sent it on a Saturday morning, but that was fine because the original text said that they check their messages every day between 8 AM and 9 PM.

Imagine my surprise when I got a message in return saying the office was closed and they were only open between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM Mon to Friday. So immediately I spotted a big disconnect between the promise and reality. Needless to say my enthusiasm for the service has started to wane.

I expected a call when they returned to the office on Monday but this never came. I did in fact give them to the Friday to reply but I was waiting in vain.  I texted again on the Friday morning and got a text in reply saying somebody would be in touch soon.  I waited till then end of the day and texted again.

I never did get a reply.

I gave up on the text service and called again.  They made some changes and said “I will call you personally in 3 days to make sure the problem has been fixed”.  Guess what – no call and not fixed.

I called again today and they have made some more changes.  I was told they would send me a text message and I could just reply to the text if the problem persisted.  Needless to say I told them not to bother as the service was a waste of time. I relayed my concerns and was categorically told that the text messages were checked every day of the week.

I’ve a good mind to text them on Saturday to see if I get a response.

I have gone from being an advocate of this provider to being somebody who if asked would recommend against using them.

I would probably not feel quite as bad about this if they had never made me that promise in the first place.  Alright… my problem still would not be fixed but my expectations would not have been raised.

Just be sure that if you introduce a service that it works, that it has been thoroughly tested and that there are no disconnects between what you tell the customer and what actually happens.  If you don’t you can end up worse off than if you had not introduced the service in the first place.






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There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

freelunchA colleague sent me an email this week asking “Is this a good deal?” What he had been offered was a free article in an industrial magazine, all we had to do was spend 15 minutes on the phone with one of their writers and they would prepare the article for us. Normally this is the sort of thing that you Jump at when you work in marketing communications. But not this time.

What set the alarm bells ringing in the first instance was that I had not heard of the magazine. Further reading of their promotional material stated that the magazine was circulated to top global decision makers, without any breakdown of job roles or even any specific circulation figures. The last piece of the puzzle dropped into place when I read that in return we had to supply a list of our suppliers. I’ve been on the receiving end of these types of promotions in the past but from the other side, as a supplier.

When i first started working in marketing communications I was mentored by the late Charles Lewis. Charles was very well known by all the editors of European process and control magazines and he taught me a great deal. Charles was vehemently opposed to promotions like this and he instilled in me the same view.

The way that publications such as this work is that they offer a company the free magazine article, sometimes they even offer to produce it as a company flier also. When the target company bites they are asked to provide a supplier list. Each of the suppliers then gets a letter stating “Company Y is placing a promotional article in our magazine. Mr X from that company would really like you to support that article with an advertisement.” I have received many of these letters and have had many forwarded to me by clients and colleagues. I have at times spoken to sales reps from these magazines. When I decline their offer I have been told “We will go and tell Mr X that you said no.” This always feels to me a little like blackmail. I have actually said this to reps in the past who have just restated their intention to “go tell on me”. This just pisses me off.

When you receive an offer like this, whether you are being offered the article or the advertising the same question still applies.

Will this reach my target audience?

If the supplier is reluctant to give you this information or if they just try to fob you off with vague terms such as “decision makers” then you should question their motives and you should seriously question whether you want to invest time or money in their opportunity.

Another useful question as a supplier when you are offered this kind of opportunity is “if I do not place this ad will it harm my relationship with this customer?”

Are these kinds of publications unique to the automation market or are they seen in other markets also? How do you deal with the pushy sales reps that work for these publications?



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