Thursday, April 28, 2011

If It’s Not Broke, Break It

I was in a creative presentation yesterday to a large retail client. This client has been running television spots promoting that if you buy one you get one free.

The advertising has been working great. Sales have never been better.

When the creative shop suggested that perhaps it was time to start reminding customers that there was value to the brand outside of getting one free, the client said why?

Free works.

You bet it does.

It works at telling customers not to shop there until you give them one for free. After awhile, one free isn’t enough. Customers are going to want two free.

At some point, free is your selling point.

And, that’s when the brand starts to die.

Customers relate price to quality. What does free equate to?

Cheap. If it costs what it’s worth, then what's free worth?

Clients don’t notice at first that the brand is dying. After all, sales are great. But it’s like Stage 1 cancer. You might be feeling great so you don’t pay attention. But the cancer is already starting to kill you.

Long term, free destroys brand value.

And, once that goes, so too, will the customers you want.

When the creative shop suggested that at some point in time, buy one get one free will stop working, the client came back with the argument that that was like saying that at some time the stock market will go down.

True enough.

But the time to get out of the stock market is when the stock is at its pinnacle, not when it’s dropping.

It’s difficult to argue with success when you’re in the middle of it. Which is why this creative shop found it difficult to argue with this client.

But when they’re successful is the time that an advertiser should be experimenting, not when they’re failing. Failure leads to recommendations made out of desperation.

Never a good idea.

Which is why I believe that if it’s not broke, try breaking it yourself.

If nothing else, it will reveal the openings that you’re allowing your competitor to slip into.

Or, in most cases, already has.

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