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Don’t lie to me

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I know this isn’t a marketing blog. I don’t want it to be one. Seth Godin’s blog is more than sufficient for me if I want to read brilliant marketing stuff. But I realize there are people who use NLP in their marketing, and I experienced something today that I think they’ll find interesting.

I got a card in the mail yesterday. From the envelope, it looked like a greeting card or an invitation. As there were a couple of recent events for which a card would have made sense, I was curious. The return address was in Florida, nine hundred miles away from me. I have friends in Florida, so I actually looked forward to what I’d find when I opened it.

It was an ad from the Dodge dealer where I bought my vehicle a few years back. Bummer.

It started with “Unnamed Auto Dealer cordially invites you and your family to our Open House Reception.” Opening the card, I found it continued with, “Unnamed Auto Dealer’s Open House Reception is our way of thanking you for your patronage over the past several years.”

That was interesting, I thought. Have a little party for your former customers, get them to think good thoughts about you, and when they want to buy a new car they’ll want to come back.

But no.

They immediately went into a sales pitch. “This exclusive event offers you, our valued customer, special pricing on over 300 brand new vehicles. In addition…”

Then they got all breathless about a “free gift” and a chance to win a $1000 shopping spree, “just for stopping by!”

No little get-together. They were trying to con me into coming in and looking at their inventory, intending to get me to trade before I want to.

The “exclusive event” ran for three days, from 9 in the morning until 9 at night. I’m supposed to believe that they’re shutting down the dealership for three twelve-hour days and that nobody will be allowed in without the little “invitation”? Or that if I didn’t have the little card they sent me, I couldn’t buy a new car at the same “special price” I could get with the card?

And don’t get me started on the fine print on the back.

So here’s how to persuade me to not cross you off my list of approved businesses:

  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s an ad, don’t call it an “invitation” and make it look like there’s a party going on.
  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s a reception, don’t try to sell me something. If you want to try to sell me something, don’t claim it’s a “reception”. Unnamed Auto Dealer could have created a lot of customer good will with a few hundred dollars’ worth of hors douvres and three or four hours after closing time on Saturday night, but they blew it.
  • Don’t lie to me. If the card is from someone fifteen minutes from my house, the return address shouldn’t be for a place sixteen hours from my house. Could it have cost extra to have the dealership’s address printed on the envelope flap? If so, it would have been worth it.
  • Don’t lie to me. If it’s an exclusive event, it should exclude someone. If everybody can get in, don’t call it “exclusive”.
  • Don’t lie to me. Parties to which we send out written invitations don’t last three days. Parties that last three days don’t shut down at nine in the evening. It’s not a party; it’s you wanting to move some inventory.

Don’t lie to me. Level with me. I’ll respect you for it. And I tend to do business with people I respect.

Written by Michael DeBusk

February 20th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

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