Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good marketing. Bad marketing.

With my marketing background, I always find it interesting to see good and bad examples of marketing.  Here, I can offer up each in one shopping trip.  This is hopefully my last discussion about whacking my head while skiing.

I know that ski helmets are designed to take one major impact, after which they can't be counted on to offer the same level of protection.  I knew I needed to get a new helmet, so I called the manufacturer, Giro, to see if they had any kind of program or discount for helmets that died in the line of duty.  Sure enough, they do, but only some stores participate.  Bring your dead helmet in, give it to the store, and get a 30% discount on a new Giro helmet.

Here is my new purchase. Very nice helmet, and I went with white this time.
So, where's the marketing story? In three parts...
  1. For Giro, kudos.  If you didn't offer any kind of discount, I would have started from scratch and considered Scott, POC, and others.  Fairly easy to narrow my focus back to your helmets.
  2. Then I went to Jans Mountain Outfitters.  Julie and I have bought thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from them, including skis, poles, boots, helmets, jackets, bikes,...  What did they say?  "I'm sorry, but we don't participate in that program.  You can come back and talk with our hard goods buyer and perhaps you can work something out."  For what it's worth, I had a new helmet in one hand and a credit card in the other.  I told them I would just head across the street to their main competitor.  They didn't really care.
  3. Across at Cole Sport, it was an entirely different experience.  I walked in and started talking to the first sales rep I found.  His answer:  "Sure, we support that program.  Looks like your helmet did exactly what it was supposed to.  Grab another Giro, give us the broken one, and we'll give you 30% off."  I was out of the store with my new helmet in minutes.
Now I will preface this with "I don't own my own outdoor store, nor do I do the accounting for one".  However,  I have to believe that a high-end store like Jans doesn't like losing a long-time, loyal customer. I bought the old helmet from them and wanted to pay them for a new one.  So much for any hint of good customer support.

So, two thumbs up for Giro and Cole Sport.  I wet sloppy raspberry to Jans. If you want people to buy from you instead of just shopping on the Internet, you actually have to differentiate yourself on service.
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