Restrictive, Anti-Offer Trend
There seems to be a new minor trend in financial services promotions. The promotions make an offer — which is always important to success — but the restrictions make it difficult to get the offer.
It’s not much better than no offer at all and can be counter-productive.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve written about the importance of an offer many times. The product isn’t the offer. It’s the “extra” that attracts the prospect and convinces her to open the account with your financial institution instead of with your competitor.
Let’s call this trend I’m discussing the restrictive offer. There seems to be two types.
Bring this in or else. When a consumer buys a box of cereal at the supermarket, she understands that the only way to get the 50 cent discount cut from the newspaper is to submit it during checkout at the store.
But consumers have a very different perception of supermarkets compared to banks and credit unions. They don’t expect to cash in coupons at financial institutions.
Yet some banks and credit unions force the prospect to “bring in this mailer” or coupon or else they don’t get the gift, the cash, or whatever is being offered.
Why? What can a marketer accomplish by being so restrictive? You get the consumer to open the account, so why punish this new customer and deny her the premium over a chunk of paper?
The trial of 1,000 hoops. I see another tactic that seems to be used more and more often. Make a big offer, but make it as difficult as possible to reach the goal.
For example, suppose there’s a splashy $250 offer with the marketing campaign. It gets attention, certainly. But then the prospect discovers she needs to go through one requirement after another to get the money.
Some campaigns allow the customer to, at least, collect part of the cash as each requirement is overcome. That’s not bad, if the requirements are simple. But I’ve seen all-or-nothing promotions where the new customer must compile a daunting collection of accomplishments that make scavenger hunts pale in comparison. If she doesn’t jump through every hoop, she loses the prize.
Remember, your promotional offers aren’t supposed to be like a quest for the Golden Fleece. They should encourage people to open your accounts instead of an account with your competition. If you make a new customer or new member angry at the start, how long before the siren’s song of a much easier offer from your competitor lures that person away?
Free Checking and a Free Gift is the old golden standard for checking account promotions. It’s simple. Open the account and get the gift. No coupons. No hoops. No restrictive offer.
Many financial services marketers need to look at why that type of offer has endured for so long.