Macy's was buzzing that mild, sunny Saturday afternoon. The store in downtown Chicago had just completed the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, so shoppers were streaming and jostling in and out. We had to move fast to avoid being stepped on.
As we entered, I spotted a sign on the door referencing Facebook Places. I had spent several days researching Places vs. Foursquare recently for a client, so I was eager to check in and check it out.
We found a safe spot to stop in cosmetics, and I logged in. I waited. Nothing. We rode the escalators up to see the tree on the eighth floor. I checked my phone again. Nothing. I went to Places and checked in at Macy's again. Nothing. We admired the tree, and I checked my phone again. Nothing.
I asked a salesperson about the special deal for checking in on Facebook Places. She asked someone else, and they sent us to customer service on the first floor. We asked the staffers there. Blank look in response. I showed them my phone. They called upstairs.
The manager had heard of Facebook Places, but she didn't know what we should get for checking in. To his credit, the very kind customer service staffer walked all the way to an entrance with us to see the sign. There it was, on all the doors, vaguely encouraging shoppers to check in for deals. "There must not be a deal right now," he said.
We did a lot of waiting and wandering and checking that day. I chalked it up to research. But I doubt I'll conduct that experiment again.
Two days earlier, my sister had sent out an email: She had received a free pair of jeans from Gap in a Facebook Places promotion. I'll try that down the street, I thought. So I checked in at Gap. Nothing. I waited. Nothing. I checked my phone again. Nothing. I decided I had better things to do in Chicago.
I asked my sister later how she'd received notice that she had earned free jeans. Did she get a text? An email? A Facebook notification? No, she said. She was in the Gap and asked a clerk about the deal...and they simply gave her a pair of jeans. No check-in required. Well that explains that. Sort of.
I was still hopeful for a deal when I was at JCPenneys last week. I was trying on a pair of shoes when I heard an announcement on the loudspeaker. Text JCP to xxxxxx and receive special offers! I did it on the spot. What timing, I thought! These shoes are looking even better! I checked my messages. I was asked to text the letter Y to another number. I did. I waited. I checked my phone. Nothing. I tried on some more shoes. I checked my phone. Nothing. Five stores later, I checked my phone again: I was now enrolled to receive special offers via text. But there was no deal. Not then, and not yet, a week later.
Each of these campaigns seems to have missed an essential element: execution. Worse, they got what they wanted--their names on my Facebook feed, access to my text messaging. And what did I get? You might know the refrain by now: Nothing.
Yes, location-based marketing and mobile marketing are new territory in which it's easy to get lost. But when you promote something, it's still important to educate your staff about the offer and to be able to deliver what the consumer expects. Or soon, the customer will expect nothing. And that's not a good place in which to be.
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