I’m a marketer at heart. In terms of career, it’s all I know and all I am. I claim to love everything about marketing. Well, nearly everything. Here are 10 marketing tactics I despise and even more importantly I believe give us marketers a bad reputation. As Mike Ditka would say “STOP IT”.
- The price of popcorn at the movie theatre. At the grocery store, a single bag of Orville’s popcorn goes for 29 cents a bag. Yet at the movie theatre, it costs $5.99. I get that the movie is using popcorn to cover the overhead. But it really is blatantly treating your consumer like a hostage. “Combos” (popcorn plus pop or candy) are even worse. At my theatre, one night while I was 9th in line, I added them up and there are zero savings. So I asked the kid at the front. And the answer the poor kid had to give was “the combos are more convenience than savings”. Wow. These marketing tactics just gives us a bad reputation.
- Freight and PDI on a New Car. If you’ve ever bought a car, you have to pay for something called freight and PDI. It’s really an admin fee for shipping and preparing the car. What’s frustrating is the negotiation process in buying a car. This is just one more tool at the disposal of the salespeople. I know Saturn tried the “no price negotiation” strategy and it backfired. Negotiations with so many moving parts can be a brutal experience. And many times, you start off day 1 with such a negative experience that you’re mad at the brand. Why would you want that?
- “That’s not all if you call now…’ Yes, telemarketing is a necessary evil of the marketing game. I’m not a fan. The worst line ever invented is “that’s not all”. That just means we’ve taken this low-cost item we’re trying to sell you and give you a second one for free. But the rip-off is the “you just pay the shipping and handling” line. You’re likely paying an extra $8=10 in shipping and handling, where the company makes a huge profit on that amount. It’s never double the price to ship two items in the same parcel. And handling? I wish these guys would stop preying on the defense-less consumer. These marketing tactics make us look bad.
- 100% Money-Back Warranty…’except for’: A few years ago, I decided to buy a Toshiba Ultrabook, as it was slightly cheaper than the Mac version. While the Toshiba was a bit flimsy, I decided to buy the 3-year extra service plan from Best Buy. I was told, “don’t worry, this warranty covers everything, and while it’s being repaired, we’ll even give you a loaner version”. I figured OK, I”m covered. Six months in, the flimsy screen caught up to me and all of a sudden I couldn’t see anything. Confidently, I took it back to Best Buy. They gave me a loaner and a week later said “we can fix it, but the cost to you will be $400” I said, “but I have the full warranty”. And they said “yes, but the warranty does not cover software, hardware or battery”. HUH? What else is there? There is nothing else but software, hardware or battery to a computer. Anyway, I bought a new Mac. No wonder Apple does so well in an industry like this.
- Paying $3 for headphones on the Airplane. I know pretty much every airline is nearly bankrupt. And I’d never invest a penny into an airline. But the shift to charging the consumer for everything seems like the wrong way to go. There have to be more creative ways than charging $3 for headphones. I was recently on a flight that cost me $1700, which makes that headphone fee about 0.18% of the overall price. Is it really making a dent in the balance sheet of your airline? Or is giving the consumer a small token a bad thing?
- Email Lists you didn’t know you signed up for. I manage my email as best I can. For about 2 months now, I’m getting weekly Hilton Honors email blasts. I finally un-subscribed. Some of the un-subscribes are easy. But others are painful with 3 or 4 steps to confirm I really want to un-subscribe and I’m not “mistaken”. Email marketing is just a new form of junk mail. I guess it works for 3% of customers so to get the money from those guys, let’s bug the 97% of customers who don’t want emails cluttering up their inbox. Let’s make it so hard to tick off that “no email thank you” box that we can annoy our most loyal consumers.
- Paying more for a large hot tea versus a small: There are 3 component costs in hot tea. The cup, the bag, and the water. The only thing that changes with a larger size is more water. Any chance to rip-off the consumer.
- 3-year Cell Phone Contracts: When the technology changes every six months and you’re teenager drops (or throws) their phone at least once a week, having that long contract feels like a prison sentence. I get the whole it’s the only way we can cover the cost. But it puts all these phone companies into a position where they get the sale but lose the customer’s loyalty. It’s not a way to build a long-term love affair but rather a growing hatred for one another.
- Gas Price Games. I want one simple rule for gas prices. You have to set them on the first day of the month and leave that price the entire month. Have you ever noticed that the price of gas goes up immediately at the start of a crisis–in anticipation of prices going up. So a hurricane hits, prices jump up that day just in case the oil industry is affected. Not because it’s been affected. Just in case. Yet the prices don’t come down in anticipation of the world crisis ending,
- Call center cold calls at home. Even worse than junk email cluttering up my inbox are the phone calls coming from overseas. I’ve signed up for the “Do Not Call”, but I guess the loophole is to now call from overseas. You’re in the middle of cooking dinner and the phone rings. And there is some 7-second delay before someone says “Hi Mr. Robertson”.
These 10 marketing tactics are very common to most consumers causing great frustration but also lack of respect for the marketing profession. And yes, it is a profession. What are the things about marketing that annoy you and damage our reputation?
How do we “Stop It” on these marketing tactics?
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