Dear Withering Publisher: You’re struggling enough already; stop creating additional competition for yourself. Here’s how you just forced me to rethink giving you my money.
I’ve recently been considering re-subscribing to BusinessWeek. I used to be a subscriber, a pretty loyal one, too, but I let my subscription expire because I really wasn’t finding time to read every week’s issue. Further, my magazine issues would pile high, which would then cause me to feel bad for not having read them (which is an interesting psychological product management dilemma I should perhaps address in a future post: how too much of a product can actually backfire).
So here I am, ready to re-engage with this familiar product, actively searching them out, but there’s a problem: the company who owns the product (Bloomberg) has been peppering me with DIFFERENT PROMOTIONS FOR THE SAME PRODUCT.
- One offer is for a $40 annual subscription, plus a $10 Amazon gift card!
- One offer is for a $30 annual subscription—the lowest price ever!
- One offer is asking me to download the iPad app—for free! (But then I have to pay for each issue, after the first complimentary one.)
Oh yeah, and if I subscribe to the print publication, I get free access to the digital iPad edition!
Say whaaaa?! Bear with me a moment while I reboot my brain’s hard drive.
Let’s address the specific issues doing something like this creates:
• Receiving multiple offers for the same product/service creates confusion. It takes effort for the customer to (unnecessarily) think through all the offers they’ve received, and then prioritize which offer is best. We all work hard enough during our day jobs; the last thing we want to do is spend 45 minutes researching and trying to figure out which promotions for which products are best when we’re finally supposed to be allowing our neurons to, you know, simma down a bit. We as business leaders need to be be sophisticated enough to make sure our prospects are receiving a series of strategic, thoughtfully communicated and relevant offers.
• I now have this horrible feeling that if I eventually re-subscribe, I might miss a better offer. It’s like a game of who’ll blink first, and frankly, I know they need me more than I need them. As such, it’s likely I’m going to wait until I feel I’ve stopped receiving promotions to then go back and re-evaluate all the offers I received to see which is best. Obviously, this doesnt bode too well for a here-and-now subscription model for a company that is (unfortunately) significantly struggling. And, who knows—I might decide I don’t need them at all, or a better product might come along while I’m debating what to do.
• One of BusinessWeek’s goals is undoubtedly to be a leading publication to help us learn about how to be more effective in business. Ironically, however, when I’m receiving a series of confusing offers from the company who’s promoting the publication, I can’t help but think that perhaps the insight they’re sharing in their publication really isn’t that valuable. I mean, if they can’t achieve success with something as simple as appropriate timing of marketing promotions, how can I really trust and/or value anything they’re telling me?
Goal: Think about ways you are potentially complicating your customers’ buying processes—and eliminate them. Also remove elements that aren’t adding value. To make this happen, literally put yourself in their shoes and walk through the process with a myopic customer lens. Make it EASIER, not more difficult, for your customers to buy from you. I promise: It’ll be worth it.