“All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is vastly superior to a $36,000 VW Touareg, even if it is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better—and look cooler—than $20 no names… and believing it makes it true.” — Seth Godin
However, to the most skeptical audiences (my lady), all marketers areliars. I won’t take it personally that she’s indirectly called me a liar. (LOL) But she is absolutely right in most cases simply because the story isn’t strong enough to convince us otherwise. In a recent experience with IKEA, their Midnight Madness Sale wasn’t worth the matter it was printed on. More to follow…
“I wasn’t being completely truthful with you when I named this book. Marketers aren’t liars. They are just storytellers… I was trying to go to the edges. No one would hate a book called All Marketers Are Storytellers. No one would disagree with it. No one would challenge me on it. No one would talk about it.” — Seth Godin
My lady (I love you Jacqueline) is one heck of a smart lady. An accountant by trade, she has become a master budget-er for specific reasons. As a result, she is on top of GREAT DEALS when she sees them. No, she’s not a COUPON hunter but she IS a DEAL hunter. Who wouldn’t be? Let me line up our story.
IKEA did a great job promoting the midnight madness event through traditional channels (retail and local flyers) in the Burlington region to promote this maddening sale. While the lady and I were not made aware of this one-time annual event through new media channels (online, mobile), we had an opportunity to venture out and shop for some deals on June 27.
Jacqueline: “Do you want to go see if there are any deals?”
Alex: “Do you want to go? I am skeptical because they mention “select items” and we have no idea what that could mean. For all we know, it’s a discount of a fork or spoon set versus some furniture or bed set that we really want.”
(She: dressed and ready to sleep. Me: About to get ready to sleep)
Alex: “Let’s do it! It’s one time a year. Let’s get our lazy asses in gear and go. Who knows what we’ll find!?! Maybe IKEA will surprise!”
Jacqueline (shocked look on her face): “You REALLY want to go SHOP?”
Alex: “Sure, why not!”
- We (Jacqueline/I) Don’t Believe IKEA’s Midnight Madness Event
It’s normal for consumers to be skeptical. Most marketing affairs are “too good to be true” and littered with “fine print too sneaky to print in large text”! After all, you’re asking busy people with careers to haul their asses off to some late midnight affair (something we normally never do!) for some deals — on a whim — tired and all, in the hopes of finding some great, great deals. To get people out for a midnight event, the deals really have to be amazing. As you’ll note above, we already had predetermined expectations what this “madness” event would turn into. A complete dud.
Here’s my (web) foursquare check-in with predetermined expectations about the IKEA “Midnight Madness Sale” Event. Not good.
The Results of Our Midnight Madness Milk Run:
- A random walk around deal-less lane
- Deals really were few and far between (maybe we weren’t the target audience?)
- We had no idea what “select items” would be part of the midnight madness sale (Why not just tell us and make it worthwhile for the people that really want the items under the “Madness Sale” umbrella)
- Most people walked around with very little in their shopping cart (empty hands translate into disgruntled social media voices and friends/family voice boxes)
- Ladies looked at small knick knack items instead of big ticket items (Really? You got people to come out — at midnight — to get them to buy things they could normally buy on any other day since they weren’t sale items)
- We saw very few big ticket items on sale — really (we looked hard)
- Yawning, tired people walked around struggling to “find the deal”!
- Staff looking tired and unhappy to be there until midnight
- Upon departure, purchase exit bays were “very thin” with very few people really buying anything that would equate to a “madness event” with crowds en masse
THIS MIDNIGHT MADNESS SALE BY IKEA WAS A MAJOR DUD.
My FLICKr/Twitter/Facebook Status Update:
To balance out my criticisms, I searched for similar commentary about the IKEA event and found a bunch of consumers sharing the same degree of skepticism and disappointment (not sure why the dates for the message threads were different but perhaps IKEA was rotating midnight madness between locations).
Below, some comments from the Red Flag Deals forum:
kwanjaJun 20th, 2012, 11:44 AMWould be nice if they gave us a list of said “select items” in advance.Jun 21st, 2012, 12:43 AMDoes anyone think office furniture (the Hemnes Secretary Desk in particular) will see a sale soon? I’ve been holding off buying hoping for a sale.djemzineJun 21st, 2012, 08:27 AMNothing that good in both North York and Vaughan. Definitely can get my night’s sleep heh.smpJun 21st, 2012, 08:34 AMIs it just the stuff in the flyers or is there lots more stuff on sale?NeovingianJun 21st, 2012, 10:34 AMwhat a lackluster sale,the GTA gets shafted on this sale, the Adal TV bench isn’t a bad price @ $39, too bad its not that price anywhere in the GTAangekfireJun 21st, 2012, 10:48 AMThe Ottawa deals look pretty cold as usual.chienpourriJun 21st, 2012, 09:50 PMNothing much interesting sadly… I was look at kitchen tables & chairs but nothing in that area on sale.dtrader69Jun 22nd, 2012, 06:50 PMso what’s everyone getting and when is everyone showing up?
in past experience, how is the stock level? and do people line up?GotoffJun 22nd, 2012, 10:54 PMworst sale ever.
wasted 3 hours of my family’s time.
oh yeah, it wasn’t busy at all at the ny locationhola2005Jun 25th, 2012, 09:34 PMI went to local Ikea and there was a 50% discount on all large potted plants. Ended up getting a $20 off a $40 dollar plant.
- Your sale must be rock-bottom and hit all customers. What does this mean? For a brief moment in time, IKEA is going to make LESS money (YES, LESS MONEY, NO, NOT A LOSS) for SIX short hours oneverything in the store. You’re going to move away from “select items” and shoot for “most items” or “all items” to knock the socks of all expectations and predetermined viewpoints about IKEA and sales. This includes keeping the same sale across ALL stores. Not select locations! Remember, it is a midnight madness sale. Make it chaotic!
- Your mobile strategy should not only be used to “re-create” the brochure experience (fancy effort to digitize a magazine) but must tap into the full service experience: database queries for in-stock items, on-sale items, items on sale for midnight madness (based on location), delivery scheduling, in-app purchasing, how-to installation videos, consumers reviews and so on.
- Stronger use of a video marketing platform to promote the midnight madness sale (ask people what they expect to see on sale and surprise them!), new products for sale during this short period, and so on. Past experience at a midnight madness sale. Make people “feel” the sale with interactive videos that are real, natural and human!
- I got the impression from the Red Flags forum threads that information was confusing and spare and that deal-hunters were relying more on themselves to get clear information than IKEA itself. Surely, this is a lesson that IKEA needs to provide a better lead up in launch marketing to this event, package offers better, deploy communication channels more effectively, and deliver a better, richer experience interactively for online and mobile users.
The typical failed marketing program is one that creates hype, buzz and unrealistic expectations only to be followed by stipulations, restrictions and fine-print. That stuff has to end. People want deals in a tough economy. Yes, IKEA needs to make money. Agreed. However, if you want to associate yourself to being a deal-crazy retail brand once a year with a “MIDNIGHT MADNESS SALE”, you have to MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU. If you under-deliver, the damage is done this year and every year thereafter TIMES 20 or TIMES 1000 depending on how deep one’s social media network is. Imagine if it was the other way around. People are stunned and dumbfounded to find some amazing deals, they talk about it to friends, family and their social media networks…then what happens? TRAFFIC.
Let people do the marketing for you. Be good to be great!
In this day and age, there is no excuse for this. You dig your own grave if you promote on high expectations and deliver well below a predetermined set of expectations. Frankly, IKEA’s 2012 Midnight Madness Sale was NOT “Swedish for Common Sense.”
When Jacqueline and I walked backed to our car, another couple that just parked asked, “Found nothing?” It was 11:30pm and we’d spent 30 minutes to get to the destination and spent 45 minutes trying to find some good deals. We replied, “Not really. Was a complete dud from our perspective. Take a look at the purchase exit bays there. Not many cars or mad panic there to take merchandise out, eh?” I then added, “Good luck. Maybe you’ll find something that works for you.”