Marketing must be meaningful to count for anything

Gill Cardy

I’ve paid a lot of attention to textbooks and more light-weight explorations of the subject, but I think we have the most to learn from how other companies interact with us and get us to buy their products and services.

Earlier this year my gym, David Lloyd in Port Solent, sent me a birthday email. I’ve never sent clients birthday cards or other greetings, but I may have been wrong about that. It was a nice surprise. Until I read it.

Their birthday gift to me was a gift pass so that I could go to the gym on my birthday with a friend.

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Firstly, why assume that the venue of choice for my birthday treat is the gym? I cannot be the only person in the world who considers my birthday as a day of rest or, more truthfully, another excuse to avoid improving my health and fitness.

Secondly, I already pay to go to the gym. Even if spending an hour or more exercising in the company of a friend would have made my special day complete, a free pass for a friend is not a gift for me.

Thirdly, it’s not a gift as much as a cynical attempt to obtain new names from one of their valued clients for their sales team to target.

A gift for me could have included a discounted personal training session, a voucher to use in their cafeteria, a discount to use in the spa facilities or with the on-site physio or sports masseur.

After all, a discount voucher only costs anything if I collect, and in getting me to spend on something I wouldn’t otherwise have bought they have increased revenue and tempt me to continue spending at the full price long after my birthday.

A true gift would be just that: a free personal training voucher, a free treatment or massage, a free coffee or snack.

It doesn’t have to cost much, or shave too much off the bottom line, and their reward would represent a much bigger return on investment than their current idea does.

So how does your marketing measure up? Genuine gifts to valued clients, or barely disguised marketing to get new clients?

Gill Cardy is network development director of ValidPath