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 had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.