Sense of Urgency–Or Sense of Confusion?

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

talbots_j_jill_1626717.jpgNo matter what your marketing medium of choice is today—direct mail, email, social, TV, whatever—one thing is certain. Consumers are overloaded, and they’ll only give your message a moment’s thought before they decide whether to consider your offer or move on.

That’s why several emails from J. Jill this weekend annoyed me. I shop from the chain, which is why they email me just about every day, and send me a print catalog almost every week .

Now, do I open all their emails? Nah, only when I’m in the market for something—which is why the recent “25% off your entire purchase in stores only” subject line caught my eye this weekend. Hmmmm….I could use some new shorts for an upcoming vacation. I wasn’t sure if I could get to the store that day, so I wondered when the sale ended.

After reading the email—and two others in the same series—I’m still wondering. The sale goes on for “a limited time.” One more day? Two? Six years?

Folks, I get creating a sense of urgency, but this is just, well, rude. Today’s consumer is busy, and you’re telling her there’s a sale at the mall that ends, well, sometime, who knows? Do you think she’ll take the time to go to the mall on the off-chance tomorrow the sale is still running? Or will she not bother, and go to another retailer who makes the terms and timing of their sale crystal clear? And if she does go to J. Jill and the sale has ended without notice, how loyal do you think she’ll be in the future? Not so much, I’ll bet.

I’m going to assume there’s another message coming in this series that will let shoppers know when the sale ends, at least I hope there is.

I liked the straightforwardness of a recent direct mail piece from Omaha Steaks much better. “1/2 Price SALE….Yes, Shipping is ½ Price too!” blared the outer envelope copy.

And inside….that’s exactly what the offer was. A range of steaks and side dishes, offered for half price, with half price shipping—and a clear call to action that the offer ends May 10, 2011.

Omaha Steaks got it right. The sense of urgency is there, and the consumer is given a precise timeline on how long the offer is valid. And that’s some tasty creative.

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