How To Spot The Wrong Customer Perspective

Subtleties like copy choice can kill the message

by Jason Falls |

In the checkout line at a national arts and crafts chain last week, I noticed a large red sign encouraging customers to sign up for the store’s email marketing program. Point-of-sale executions to encourage a deeper connection with the brand online are smart and help you reach the customer at multiple touch points, driving repeat business and loyalty.

But as I read the sign, my delight turned to despair for the brand. It was immediately clear to me the brand had the wrong customer perspective.

Demanding checkout signThe sign read, “Give us your email” in bold, block letters. It was as if they were the school bully yelling, “Gimme your lunch money.” The copy, font and size of the typography put me on the defensive immediately.

Underneath the headline was “We’ll show you some love.” Should I be so lucky? Is this brand so awesome that I should beg for their pittance of appreciation for my business?

At this point, they lost me. I didn’t notice the bulleted offers of special events and offers, exclusive promotions and coupons. I didn’t even see the 20% off my purchase if I texted and joined now. I was taken aback that this company, as I am about to give them my money, was bullying and bashing me with such arrogance in their sign.

Certainly, the reaction is exaggerated. I wasn’t actually offended, but rather disappointed in the tone I interpreted. But the brand should never put a message out there that can be so misconstrued.

What this sign and its copy show the customer, perhaps subconsciously, is this company thinks about itself first. They are brand-centric, not customer centric. They are takers, not givers. They only want to have your information so they can market to you. They don’t give a damn about you otherwise.

The ethos of social media has always been focused on turning commerce around to realign the customer at the center of focus. But for a brand to really deliver on that promise, it can’t limit the approach to Facebook and Twitter. All of its communications, including point-of-sale executions promoting email lists, need to show its customer focus.

Honestly, I don’t know if this brand’s online messaging is different. Judging by this sign, I’d guess it doesn’t have one or that social and digital isn’t doing much for them. But if it is plugged into the social thing and doing it well, it is misaligned in its  offline execution.

Does the perspective, tone and tenor of your offline marketing match the online? Are you saying one thing here and another there? Can’t hurt to check.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).