On Superbowl Sunday I went to a local Walgreens to get some snacks and drinks for the game. I chose several items based on the sale prices. I was going to get a great deal. When the cashier rang up my order, it was twice as much as I expected.
“Do you have a rewards card?” the cashier asked.
“Do I have to have one to get the sale price?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
I told her she could keep my order and I’d find another place to shop. She let me walk away. Walgreens lost my business.
I”m tired of rewards cards. I think the idea is passé and it’s time for marketers to get that message. A couple of years ago I vowed to quit using rewards cards for several reasons.
1. Privacy: When we sign up for rewards cards, we’re often unknowingly giving out our phone numbers, addresses, and emails to a plethora of marketers. We also give the company our permission to study our buying habits. In Permission Marketing by Seth Godin, he praises these kinds of strategies because he claims that it will make the consumer’s life easier in the end. Perhaps, but at a price. A price I’m no longer willing to pay.
2. Invasion: Of course when our name, number, and other contact information is shared, we’re bound to get more junk mail, spam, and telemarketing calls. I want less marketing messages, not more. I would like to choose who markets to me. I would also prefer to keep my buying habits to myself, thank you very much.
3. Exclusivity: This is my biggest beef. Companies that offer rewards cards are trying to build loyalty. It’s an obvious marketing ploy that turns me off. I think all people should be treated relatively equal. When I’m made to feel like I’m not an equal customer because I have not signed up for a company’s rewards card, I feel excluded. To those companies, I say, “You exclude me and I’ll exclude you.”
So what’s my point? What does this have to do with blogging? Everything. One trend in marketing among bloggers is to create ebooks, podcasts, or a variety of other products and then give them away for free. But there’s a catch. You often have to sign up for the blog feed or share your email address in order to get your “free” product. Is that really free? Smart marketers and bloggers that use this strategy won’t share your information, and that’s good. But I’m going one step further.
I don’t like marketing that offers “free” product for the price of my personal contact information. And if I don’t like to be treated that way, I’m certain there are many others who feel the same way. So here’s my promise to you:
I promise to never ask you for your email or phone number in return for any free product. Unless you’re the winner of a contest and I need an address to mail you your prize, when I offer something free on my blog, I’ll ask for nothing in return. I’m looking for loyal followers and readers. I want you to provide me with your contact information because you want to, because you’re interested in my books and music and would like me to contact you with updates.
In the future, as my blog grows, I’ll likely provide a box where you may provide me with your contact info. I may also give some things away: free music downloads, ebooks, etc. But I won’t insist on your email in return unless the software or program I’m using requires me to, and I’ll do my best to avoid those programs.
So when you’re checking out my blog, you don’t need to worry about your “rewards card.” Everyone is welcome here, and everyone will get the same fair treatment without compromising privacy.
Questions: What kind of marketing strategies do you prefer? What strategies do you dislike? Please post your comments below: