Make an Offer That Can’t Be Refused. Make It Personal.

Marlon Brando in "The Godfather"

Marlon Brando in "The Godfather"

There’s an interesting article from Jay Baer on the Magpub blog. In his post, he makes the argument that successful use of social media will soon be far less about specific offers and incentives and more about storytelling and content:

“The companies that succeed and break through the pile of social flotsam will be those that base their social efforts on humanization and storytelling, not on post-modern couponing and eyeball purchasing”

It’s a good point, and one that can be broadened to apply to marketing efforts as a whole. Successful brands have been implementing content strategies and telling good stories for a long time. Think Volkswagen Beetle, Coca-Cola and Apple. No one buys a new Beetle or an iPad because they found a “20% off” coupon in their email inbox. The Coca-Cola brand was valued at $68.73 billion in 2009. That kind of valuation is achieved by engendering the trust of your audience over a long period of time. Tell your story and build your brand, and don’t be afraid of a few missteps along the way (see New Coke).

Baer goes on to make this point:

“When every company on the planet has a special offer, yours isn’t that special.”

We are inundated with marketing messages everywhere we turn. Every day, there’s another sale, another coupon, another offer. We start to tune it all out.

The solution, however, is not to stop making offers. The solution is to make better offers. Make your audience feel “more special”. How do you do that? Make it personal. Collect quality data from your customers and prospects, then leverage that into a personalized one-to-one marketing campaign.

For example, let’s say your company makes 50 different kinds of widgets. In your database, you know which customers have purchased which widget. Instead of blasting everyone with an email touting a “20% off all widgets”, offer each customer a specific discount on the particular widget that they typically buy. Scale the size of the offer to match the typical dollar spend of the customer. Want to migrate certain customers away from a product line you’re trying to phase out? Make them an offer they can’t refuse – on the new product that better matches their specific needs. With one-to-one, the possibilities are endless.

Next week, we’ll look at which companies are doing this well, and those that are falling short.

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