“A gift for you…”
How many times has a brand offered you a gift that was really (and truly) a gift for you? I’m not talking about a white paper about their services or asking for a sale. These “gifts” come in ever-more frustrating emails these days. Does it work? Does it grab your attention? Are you curious what the brand is about to offer you? Of course you are (you’re human, after all). We’d like to think that we’re above these basic offers and tricks, but we’re humans and our brains are very, very old. So, when we see the words, “a gift for you…” our brains go, “me? Little old me? You have something for me?” And a flood of emotions race though our systems… from memories of holidays with our families, to moments of surprise and delight that we’ve all experienced at one time or another. At worst, your brain wonders what it might be like to miss out on this gift, and how you would feel if you did miss it, so why take the chance? We look. We all look.
From gift to grift.
Once you’ve “opened” up the gift (or, more likely, read the email), you immediately see what’s what. The gift is usually an invitation to read a white paper, buy something with a minor discount or – at best – some nominal freebie if you buy/agree to something first.
Newsflash: that’s not a gift.
Here’s a quick way for brands to think about gifts: if it’s about your brand, it’s not a gift… it’s a call to action… it’s a discount… it’s a way to draw attention to your brand. That’s not a gift for the consumer. That’s confusing the words “gift” and “grift”. Don’t be that brand. Gifts are a tremendously powerful way to get attention and earn loyalty. Just this week, a random gift box showed up in the mail from LinkedIn. It was “starter kit” to create videos using a smartphone. It included a selfie stick, stand, mini-light, clip-on mic, the needed adapters and more. It was all packaged together nicely with a note from the LinkedIn team. Was it a “pure” gift? No. Their logo is on the case for the gear and they would, clearly, like me to post some videos on LinkedIn… but it was close enough to make me think, “shucks… for little old me?”
And, that counts for something.
LinkedIn could have just sent me an email that said: A Gift for you… and then gone on to describe a million hoops that I must jump through to then have them (maybe) mail me this kit. Instead, it just showed up. They made it about me… not them (sort of). It they really wanted full points on the true definition of a “gift,” they could have not put their logo on it… or asked me to think about posting any videos on LinkedIn (I’m smart, I would have figured out why they sent it)… but I won’t foul them (too harshly) for that. It’s still better than those spammy emails that are just an invite to get a free white paper, if you sign up to a newsletter (which, we all know, is a never-ending agreement to let them – and all of their partners – hammer my inbox from here to eternity).
Make the gift… a gift.
A gift that is a sales pitch, sign-up or whatever may drive registration (a little bit), but it does much more brand damage than good… I don’t care what the metrics tell you. For every one person that falls for it, there are hundreds (probably thousands) of potential customers that are rolling their eyes and annoyed by the brand. Do brands really know the cost benefit of these campaigns? I doubt it. What’s more important: Getting someone to open your email or getting somebody to love your work?
That’s the opportunity when you use the word “gift.” Use it wisely.