Cleaning up your sales promotions

Confession time: I’m basically lazy.

This explains why my car wasn’t washed for the past year.

Plus dirt may be the only thing holding the old girl together.

Then I succumbed to a Soapy Joe’s coupon, prompting two results:

  • My car was finally cleaned; and
  • I observed good marketing in action

You see, the coupon offered a sizable discount, but a lesser amount appeared at the company’s automated scanner.

Were I left alone I would have paid the higher price, cursed Soapy Joe, complained to everyone I knew, and never returned.

However, a quick-thinking employee salvaged the situation by paying the difference from his own pocket. “I’ll fix it when the manager returns,” he promised.

Good move. A compelling offer plus good customer service created a pleasant experience and a satisfied customer.

Why’d the problem exist? Prices were raised three days before the coupon expired. There was an overlap, and someone in IT didn’t synchronize the checkout cart with the coupon.

This can be a big problem, as I couldn’t have been the only person to encounter this issue. Even if the coupon was only sent to the immediate neighborhood, that’s several thousand prospective customers.

Assuming a 2% coupon response rate, 40+ people were needlessly upset.

Now, if that smart young lad in the bowtie (or the missing manager) caught every one of them, problem solved. Otherwise, several dozen customers are potentially badmouthing Soapy Joe for not keeping a promise.

With the preponderance of social media these days, I assume one unhappy customer tells 500 friends about bad service.

Even if I’m wrong by a factor of 5, thousands in North County and elsewhere are needlessly hearing negative things about their shopping experience.

Can any business afford that kind of harmful publicity?

To avoid these issues, walk through the entire customer experience as if you were the buyer. Examine sales promotions carefully, test your coupons at the point of sale, and try to break the website.

Because odds are excellent if you don’t find the mistakes, your audience will.

Then, just for good measure, make sure your staff is trained and authorized to handle potential issues like mine. Recognize that things will go wrong, no matter how hard you prepare.

And have a plan for keeping customers happy.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Learn to treat customers better at