Don't Let ‘Weasel Words’ Ruin Your Offers
Recently while I was in the mall, I saw the sign below in a storefront window.
Marketers can drive revenue by making strong offers, either online or in this case at retail. I wouldn't consider this example to be a strong offer.
Take a look. Can you tell me why?
While the offer, “30% Off Entire Store” certainly grabs your attention, it's negated by what I call “weasel words.”
Weasel words are those little fine-print disclaimers and pre-qualifiers that can ruin an otherwise powerful marketing message.
This particular retailer has taken all of the power away from its offer with the statement, "Exclusions May Apply."
The entire store means the entire store, right? At least that’s how a typical consumer would read it.
So I ask you: How many people missed the weasel words and walked into the store only to find out that the item that they were interested wasn't on sale? Here are a few more questions to consider:
- How much merchandise in the store was even on sale?
- More importantly, how many people left the store frustrated by the actual selection (or lack thereof) that was on sale?
- How many people saw the “exclusions,” called BS and never even entered (like myself)?
- And how many more people shared the BS via social media?
In some corporate office, a marketer thought this was an excellent offer to drive sales. To his or her credit, maybe the sign with the weasel wording captured more foot traffic and did increase revenue. In fact, that's likely. So the messaging is to be celebrated, right?
But I ask you at what cost? As a marketer, I see a short-term gain at the expense of future customers and revenue. Missed lifetime value from customers it will never ever get.
How about you?
How would you have worded the signage? What could you have done better to drive additional sales while not alienating potential customers like myself?
Tell me below in the comments section …
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.