Today I read a headline about brands needing to compete on experience rather than price. Those who know me, know that this was an instant magnet to me because I am very passionate about competing on price…I don’t like it at all.
I’ve recently been working with a predictive analytics company. Those who don’t know me well will wonder. Huh? My wheelhouse has traditionally been brands and communications. However, I’ve been lucky that my work experience has exposed me to all sorts of marketing specialties including database marketing. I bet most of you don’t know that database marketing was part of one of my earliest casino jobs. This particular project has been really eye-opening and a little confirming that I do have a skill set beyond the assumed. Hmmm…This sounds like an interesting blog post for later, but for now, I want to talk about how these two worlds of mine collide.
Through the work I’m doing with database marketing, I’m afforded the opportunity to talk to marketers about how to identify the people in their database that have more value than the past ADT tells them as well as those who may be at the end of their lifetime value. These conversations have always been about reinvestment and the offers they should be making.
Casino marketers have a way of looking at their database programs in a variety of ways. Some call them “core mailers”. Some refer to them as the “monthly newsletter”. Interestingly, news is probably the lesser of the focuses of these monthly mailers. As I’ve worked on designing some of these pieces, it’s all about how to layout the offers front and center in a way that makes it easy for customers to want to redeem them. I’ve sat in a number of focus groups over a variety of years and markets, and I know that the offer is what the customer is interested in. They’ve said it, “I take my offers and throw the rest away. Then, I put my coupons on my refrigerator door.” As the one responsible for the communications platform, this has always been kind of disheartening. It has made me think the same way. My design directions have been totally influenced by those comments, but at some point I have to ask if it was the chicken or the egg. Do customers just look at the offers because we designed the platform that way or did we design the platform that way because the offer was most important?
Our markets are getting more and more competitive each day either by virtue of new entries or because the casino down the street isn’t afraid to over-invest. It makes me think. It makes me wonder “Why do we continue to compete on price when we have such distinct brands and personalities?” What if we created these mailers in a way that is still easy for the customer to understand what we’ve given them, but also gives them a piece of mail that they want to put up on the refrigerator rather than throwing the communications part in the garbage? What if these mailers become an actual piece of advertising and messaging?
There is no denying that this type of approach could cost more to produce. Could it influence more of your customers to choose you over your competitor even if the offers aren’t equal? What if we experience-engineered our database marketing creative rather than value-engineering it?
Take small steps if you’re concerned about budget contraints. Instead of sending out postcards the size of the ones you get when it’s time to bring your puppy in for her shots, consider a larger size that will stand out in the pile. How about special coatings to make that invitation stand out? Think about sending a promotional item tied to the theme of your event. If your agency has a good production manager, they’ll be able to give you all sorts of ideas for shipping containers, materials to be used and printing process that add pop.
Why choose to be a value engineer when you can be an experience engineer?