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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Permission Marketing: The Cookie Bait and Switch

Written By: Britt Raybould | Comments Off on Permission Marketing: The Cookie Bait and Switch

no permissionI love the Girl Scouts. More accurately, I love those beautiful boxes of cookies that make an appearance this time of year. Last week, I found some local Girl Scouts set up in front of a store. I happily handed over my money for two boxes of Thin Mints and two boxes of Tagalongs. Then, I got the upsell.

If I bought just one more box, I’d qualify for a giveaway of five more boxes. Sure. Why not? They gave me a box of Savannah Smiles and my coupon to enter the giveaway.

After I got home, I went to the local site. Apparently I didn’t read the fine print close enough. In order to enter, I had to provide the following information:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Address
  • Home Phone
  • Email Address

They asked a few more questions, but you get the idea. It was a “giveaway” masquerading as a lead collector. Plus, they didn’t bother to clarify how the information would be used, and whether its use would be limited to the giveaway.

Look, I’m in marketing, so I understood what was happening. But put yourself in the place of someone who doesn’t. It feels a lot like a bait and switch, and it comes at the cost of those individual Girl Scouts. I seriously doubt that the girls I bought cookies from had any idea that the giveaway they were promoting would require so much personal information to participate.

Of course, we know there’s value in collecting proven leads. By already buying the cookies, I’ve shown a willingness to support the organization. But the way they’ve gone about it guarantees that I’ll think twice the next time a Girl Scout offers me something in exchange for buying another box of cookies. I may still buy the cookies, but my belief in the organization isn’t quite as shiny.

All of this leads me to the bigger point.

When you brainstorm and create campaigns to do things like collect leads and promote your business, think it through from beginning to end. Don’t get so focused on the one thing, like getting the name or address, and miss the point that you’ve lost the chance to connect with me in a bigger way.

For instance, instead of trying to get everything in one pass, imagine the outcome if they had only asked for an email and my coupon code. It’s a giveaway with a clear and specific benefit. The odds of getting a “good” email are pretty high. Then, they could include a way for me to opt in to receiving more information about the Girl Scouts. Now they have my email and potentially my permission to contact me again. From there, they can gain more permission over time to collect additional information.

It’s all about taking the time to establish trust and show transparency, two things the current giveaway fails at miserably.

Over the longer term, the companies and the marketers who respect this process won’t just end up with a list of emails and names – but a supportive community. And in this instance, quality definitely trumps quantity.

Article written by
Success is in the details, and Britt Raybould helps entrepreneurs cut through the noise and identify the details that matter most. Through her firm Write Bold, Britt offers custom business and marketing strategies that capture the brilliance of each entrepreneur, while delivering clear and consistent content.