New ImprovedI was watching TV this morning, being lazy on a gorgeous Saturday.  An ad came on for a product:

Get one can of this amazing product for $19.99!
Plus shipping & handling!
Order now, and we’ll double your order!
(Just pay extra shipping & handling!)
And we’ll throw in a bottle of this OTHER stuff too!

We see this all the time, of course.  It’s just more of the noise of advertising these days.

But let’s think through this a little more carefully.

I did some investigation, and found that the “shipping & handling” for the first can is $9.95.  Inexplicably, the same handling is $9.99 for the second can – as if, for some reason, it’s 4¢ more difficult to handle the second can.

So the original pitch for $20 for a can of goo has now turned into $40 for two cans of goo and another bottle of something that was never explained.  Fine.

Let’s think about the customer experience here.  So I start off interested in the sales pitch, it looks like the goo might be useful for me.  $20 is a little steep, maybe, but I know they’re going to sweeten the deal.  Maybe I’ve wised up to the fact that S&H is usually exorbitant, so I have a bit of caution.  I’m not TOTALLY enthusiastic.

Now comes the deal sweetener.  Double your order, throw in some free junk with it, blah blah blah.  What I expected.

So I go ahead and call the number or order on the website.  There’s a good likelihood that I’ll miss the subtle message about being hit with a double S&H, because they’re so slick.  And they assume that I’m bad at math ($19.99 plus S&H is $39.93?  Sure!) or not paying attention.

Now I get my credit card bill for $39.93, which is 33% higher than I may have expected.  Ouch!  Those guys scammed me again!

So the end result of this entire experience is that I began with excitement, and a few weeks later I’m disappointed and feeling ripped off.  I may or may not be happy with the product, but (in my experience) it’s quite likely that I’m feeling ripped off.

If you’re the company on the other end of the transaction, then,

  • You’ve created a customer who actively dislikes you.
  • You’ve increased cynicism about ALL advertising.
  • You’ve probably destroyed any chance at getting a referral sale, unless your product is WAY more amazing than I expected.
  • But hey, you made a few bucks.

This is the ultimate in short term thinking, and is a great way to ruin a company.

Are YOU trying to create a business for the long term?  Go ahead and advertise your amazing special deals, but make sure that the customer experience is positive ALL the way through the transaction, especially when you want the customer to be so happy that they’re sending you referrals.