This cartoon was created by Hugh MacLeod at http://www.gapingvoid.com/. You should definitely visit his site and buy his great book “Ignore Everybody”. I hope he doesn’t mind me using the cartoon, because it illustrates what I’m talking about here so nicely.
We have a hockey-mad house. Our two teenage boys play. I still lace them up. And my wife just joined a ball hockey league. So quite often we find ourselves at the sports store.
And every time we get to the check-out, the clerk asks “Would you like to enter our draw for a gift card?”
The first few times, I said yes. Who doesn’t want to win a gift card?
But after making at least 20 purchases at this store, I long ago took to saying “no” when asked if I want to enter the gift card draw.
Because they clearly aren’t talking to me. They don’t really care. I can tell because they haven’t asked me for the one single piece of information that would actually allow them to talk to me… my e-mail address.
What are they doing with my phone number anyway? They could be tracking the geographic appeal of their store. As smart as that might be, it doesn’t even come close to talking to a customer one-on-one. They could be selling my phone number to a call center, although that seems unlikely since we are listed in the phone book. And to add to my suspicion, I’ve never won a gift card from them.
If they asked for my e-mail address, we could begin a relationship. It would be simple in the beginning, like a first date. They might send me a note asking how the new skates I bought are working out and reminding me that they have a great skate sharpening facility in the store. And then, once we got to know each other better, we could get more intimate. By tracking my purchases, they could likely estimate when my kids are likely to grow out of what we bought six months earlier. They would know what position my kids play, and what special equipment they need for that position. And armed with that information, they could gently remind me to consider their store first for those purchases. They could offer me (and other loyal customers) a first look at new equipment coming in, before it goes on sale. The possibilities are endless.
But instead they ask, rather half-heartedly, for my phone number, and they apparently enter it in a gift card draw that I won’t be winning anytime soon.
Great brands are like great songs.
They speak to you one-on-one. Everyone has songs that truly connect witht them. Sure, your analytical left brain knows that the song wasn’t written specifically for you, but in that moment in time the lyrics and music meld with your free-thinking right brain so powerfully that you get lost in the song. It’s your song.
Expedia is brilliant at that. Last week I searched for flights to Boston. I didn’t buy, just browsed. This week I received an e-mail from Expedia telling me that the flights I was looking at have gone on sale, and that hotels for that week are also discounted. They didn’t spam me with information about Caribbean cruises or flights to Seattle. They knew what I wanted, and made their message matter one-on-one.
Amazon does the same thing with books and other purchases. You like Seth Godin? Here’s a few other books that people who say they like Seth Godin also like.
iTunes? Same thing. My tastes are quite bizarre, and my kids use the same iTunes account. So quite often the iTunes “Genius” will suggest that I might like Jay-Z, Pete Seeger, Dierks Bentley, and Dragonforce.
Funny how these massive multi-national companies can track my preferences so much better than my neighborhood sports store. Yet they have so much to gain from doing it.