Tag Archives: incentives

Ugly But Free

tshirt - undershirt

As the economy defrosts, it seems trade shows and live events are returning. With them, like the tide coming in on a polluted bay is a flood of tsatskes – knick knacks, premiums, swag given to attendees of demonstrations and visitors to exhibitions or sent as incentives to prospects.

Visitors to shows used to fill their shopping bags with the shirts, thumb drives, golf accessories, cheap watches, sports logo wear, etc. This detritus would often be abandoned after being schlepped to the airport from whence it would grace thrift shops and the abodes of TSA staff or be worn by street people.

In these leaner and meaner times, the tsatskes too have become shabbier. The pens are no longer a reasonable knock off of a pen one might want to keep. The t-shirts look ever more like underwear, the gym bag is in no shape to take to the gym, the coffee mug is too small and homely to be used by a soup kitchen, and the logo water bottle is no more durable and less useful than a plastic soda bottle.

In sum, the crap looks like and obviously is crap. Crap with a logo, which, if anyone keeps it long enough to notice, only makes your brand look poor.

This is not to say that a premium can’t help your presentation be more memorable or serve an incentive for prospects. As with any other piece of MARCOM, if its relevant to your brand or product, distinctive (how often do you awake wishing for a generic coffee mug?), desirable (why would someone want a white XXL t-shirt, when a logo sponge would do a better job of washing the car?), and affordable (much more likely if your target recipient is more specific than a warm body) it can be effective.

Until you can do these, skip the swag. You may be better with digital goods such as e-books, downloadable videos, useful information (as opposed to boilerplate white papers), or free on-line trials.

An Unstimulating Stimulus

Congress has passed a Stimulus plan. It is supposed to revive the economy and reduce unemployment by inducing people to buy more than they otherwise would in these lean times. The plan is a mixture of tax cuts and federal spending. Together they will provide more money to many consumers.

To my knowledge no marketers were consulted in assembling the stimulus, yet getting folks to buy is what we do. As a marketing strategy this Stimulus is, at best, incomplete. There are no specific incentives for consumers or businesses to spend their additional funds. Thus some will be saved, some wasted, and the rest spent.

The cumulative effects of the Stimulus related spending, do not seem to have been rigorously modeled. The desired outcome of 3.5 million jobs “saved or created” thus seems quite arbitrary. In this respect the Stimulus resembles many marketing plans we see. That is – wishful thinking.

Interestingly saving 3.5 million jobs at cost of $787 billion is about $ 225 thousand per job. This seems no bargain, even if the Stimulus works as hoped. Considering the lack of specific incentives to increase spending, this seems optimistic.

What would marketers do? Faced with flagging demand, we might:

  • Have a sale
  • Change the business or pricing model
  • Offer incentives – buy 2 get the 3rd free
  • Provide cross promotions
  • or premiums
  • Give warranties or guarantees
  • Strive to better understand the buying and adoption process and address causes for not buying
  • Solidify and reinforce the value proposition

There are analogous features, which could be part of a stimulus package.

  • Sales tax holidays – specifically reimbursement to states, which hold sales tax holidays, for lost revenue.
  • Targeted tax credits for individuals such as for cars, homes, and investment tax credits for businesses.
  • Subsidizing mortgage interest rates to boost housing demand and liquidity.

Doubtless, you can formulate your own list. My point is that marketing oriented programs will increase demand more than doling out money and hoping or the best.