Coercion Marketing-Give Me a Break!

It’s just mind-boggling how shortsighted some companies can be when it comes to the marketing methods they use.

This morning my daughter came down with the swine flu.  It was spreading like water from a leaky faucet at her school. Turns out its not that bad so don’t worry. It only lasts 2 to 3 days.  Of course I took her right to the doctor who prescribed Tamiflu. I went and got the prescription filled and don’t you know it cost the most that any prescription can cost with my current health plan which is $50. Why is it so expensive?  Because Roche Laboratories who either makes and/or distributes it is not about to miss out on charging the highest price possible to a captive audience. After all who would forgo taking it when they have swine flu!

Then I went to buy Lysol spray because the doc said it could prevent me from getting it–which is very appealing. The can was huge and cost almost $5.  I will most likely not use more than 1/3 of that can.  Why was it only available in this huge size? Because if you need it and can only get it in that size you’ll pay the price.  I don’t know if this was the fault of Walmart for only stocking that size or of Lysol who perhaps only makes it in that size.

Coercion? I think so.

Then I just read an article about Bank of America who evidently lures elderly people into buying insurance they don’t want or need by getting them to take advantage of a free offer. Hidden in the fine print is an agreement that their bank account can be debited around $69 a month for this unwanted insurance. And guess what dear readers, its legal!

Coercion. You bet.

Marketers do this all the time. Do they really think they are building customer loyalty or that those customers will spread the word about how wonderful their business is? Internet marketers do this as well with forced continuity, where you get a free gift and are signed up for a membership program without it being obvious and with the opt-out not clear.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think offering a valuable free gift along with an opportunity to try a continuity program is a great idea as long as its clearly stated exactly when the customer will be charged, how much they’ll be charged and how they can very easily cancel. This should be made clear several times during the process of signing up. That’s honest, high integrity marketing, not cohersion.

Dont’ make the mistake of using coercion for the quick sale while sacrificing the long term customer relationship.

And don’t visit me this weekend unless you want swine flu!


1 Comment
  • Kathleen Gage
    Posted at 14:54h, 17 September Reply

    Outstanding article Janis. Although you and I know how essential great marketing is, there is unethical and ethical marketing. Granted, unethical marketing is often legal. Does that make it right? Absolutely not!

    Yet, how many companies take full advantage of situations in which consumers are very vulnerable.

    For those of us who own our businesses the choice we have is to use ethical methods to market, treat people with dignity and respect, and do all we can to set the pace for what is to come in greater and greater waves as we conduct “business as usual”.

    Come from a place of integrity and congruency. This is the time we must all walk our talk.

    Thanks for posting Janis and my best to your daughter for a speedy recovery.

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