Instead of clipping, sorting, and filing newspaper ad coupons every week, I watch for coupons through member perks. Everyone has a membership program these days. I have three coffee shop apps that track my activity, send me coupons, and even let me pay, all on my phone. Everyone from convenience stores to Chinese restaurants message me to stop in and pick up the latest special just for the trouble of showing them the text.
Text coupons are convenient. They don’t clutter up my purse. I always have them with me. There is nothing to throw out when they expire. The problem? Half of these coupons are BOGOs.
Technically, I’m not a single. I’m not married, but Bubba and I are a pair. Two peas in the same pod. I’d love nothing more than to take him out on one of my BOGOs and spend a lazy morning conversing over two cups of coffee, one of them free. Except he doesn’t like coffee. He doesn’t like hot chocolate, frozen blended drinks, or teas — neither hot nor iced. The only thing he wants from my coffee shop is a muffin and a Coke. And he doesn’t want to laze around watching the sun come up while eating his muffin. No. In fact if you blink, you might miss seeing him eat it at all. So I happily go alone.
When my kids were in school, they sold coupon books for fundraisers. My mom would probably have bought one, except they were mostly BOGOs and she was a widow. When they were both alive, Mom was a loner, and had no problem seeing a movie or stopping for lunch by herself. A BOGO would have gone unused even then.
I get what they’re doing. They want your business, but they also want you to bring someone else. That way they can get more add-on sales with food, beverages or desserts. They’re also trying to double their pay-off for the marketing. Except they are excluding half of their audience, so in a way I really don’t get it.
For Valentine’s Day, my coffee shop sent out a BOGO text. I wondered how irritating that is to those who have no valentine, or for those who have loved and lost. It’s not enough that I have to listen to those horrible diamond commercials on the radio. Now I have to consider buying two small lattes in the drive-through, drinking them both on the way home.
How about they just give me a percentage off my entrée? Or a free dessert? What about buy a coffee, and get a free muffin? Now that’s something Bubba could sink his teeth into. Or swallow whole, whichever comes first.
It is hard for most of us to imagine a world without social media. We tweet, post, link, like and when we’re through, we retweet, repost, and share again.
What is the first site you think of when you think of social media? Chances are, you think of Facebook. There’s a good reason for that. Everything we do, from stopping for coffee on the way to work, to picking up take-out on the way home, is linked to Facebook.
The movies I watch, the theaters I watch them in, the music I listen to, and the stores I frequent all have pages on Facebook. There was a time when buying merchandise was thanks enough, but now they want me to “like” them, too. It was fun for a while. One of my favorite pizza joints posts coupons on Facebook. I used it a couple of times. Now it just tells me which nights to avoid so I don’t hit the FB coupon lines.
My soda has a Facebook page, my permanent markers have a Facebook page, and yes, I have a Facebook page. I have 227 Facebook friends. The last time I saw that many people all at the same time was probably at my wedding. And I didn’t really know half of them, either. As friend lists go, mine is pretty short, and I could probably cull it even further.
Typically, 70% of the posts are not original, but simply reposts of what someone else posted. Maybe this is true in real life, too. I mean, maybe I’m coming down too hard on my FB friends. How much of what we say in person is original, either? Personally, I just don’t have time to sit around reading all the stuff that other people post so that I can repost it on my timeline. To be fair, I don’t spend a lot of time on FB at all, and it’s not a place I like to share my deepest thoughts, my every move, or my drama.
Yes! I have drama in my life. Who doesn’t? I make a choice to keep my life private — both in Facebook and reality. Posting my drama just leaves me open for pity or those who want to one-up me, neither of which is better than the other. Keeping my drama on the down-low allows me to seek guidance from those I select, while putting up a classy don’t-you-envy-my-life front for the rest of the world.
If I’m on Facebook, I am most commonly accessing it from my phone. I could put the phone down, but what fun is that? Me and my Smartphone rule the world, and FB just wants in on it.
Notification: You have an 1 event pending!
Notification: Friends have sent you 3 game invitations!
Notification: You have 1 friend request!
This event invitation is one I’m too honest to accept, and too compassionate to decline. It’s an invitation to send a Christmas card to a little kid with Cerebral Palsy. I agree with the concept, but here’s the thing . . . The invite says “our address is . .” so whoever created this lives with the kid and is looking forward to all the warm fuzzies of watching the child be buried in his own Christmas mail. There’s also the part about sending mail to a child I don’t know. How would I sign it? Love? Sincerely? Yours Truly? I’ll probably give money to my local food shelf and click “tentative” on the invite just to make it go away, and hope the FB Friend who invited me will forget they did.
The game invites I will delete, only to have them pop up again tomorrow. There are three games I play. One is a quick timed word game, another is a zone-out bedtime number game. The last is a virtual reality that feels more like a grown-up dollhouse. I talk about them like they’re real, and mourn them briefly when they die. It freaks Bubba out and that’s enough for me. None of these games require Facebook, and I stopped posting my high scores there as soon as I figured out how to adjust the setting.
The friend request will be accepted, providing her name isn’t Brandi and wearing a bikini. That happens. It’s not that I’m opposed to a girl wearing a bikini, it’s that she spells her name with an “i” and wants me to spend money getting to know her.
A bit of advice for those losing passwords. Do not click the option that says, “We don’t recognize your username or password. Would you like to sign in using Facebook?” Clicking OKAY will not direct you to your original account. It will set up a whole new account. You will now have two accounts. One with none of your history, and the other with no way to get into it.
Why would Facebook and your favorite app want you to sign in through FB? Because they share your information like two biddies down the street over a cup of cheap coffee.
“She likes browsing sexy lingerie!”
“Are you serious? Wait until I tell the other sites about that!”
“Oh my! Do let me know which sites are interested!”
“You’ll be the first to know! Have some more coffee . . . sugar?”
” . . . and cream, if you have it.”
I know it’s all in the name of suggestive marketing. The grocery store does the same thing when they place ping pong balls next to the 3.2 beer. But Cub Foods doesn’t send someone around to watch what labels I’m reading for the sole purpose of suggesting I buy something else. That would be nosey and I’d stop shopping there.
So why do I continue to shop at Facebook? I treat it like a party hosted by a friend of a friend of a friend. I don’t really know the host, but I respect the space and everyone there. It’s a good place to reconnect with lost loved ones, and see how their kids have grown. There are a lot of different conversations going on, so if I don’t like one I can join another. I try to keep it generic, because there are a lot of people attending from all walks of life. It may not be the best party going on, but you’re bound to see someone that makes you smile.
Like any party, it’s better after you’ve had a few. So if you see me there, I’m likely to have a drink in my hand. I won’t be driving, but if you’re a good friend and I’ve had too many, please tell me to put the phone down . . .
Motive fascinates me. Every choice you make, is governed by motivation. Whether you get off the couch to use the bathroom, or head to the kitchen, is motivated by a full bladder, an empty stomach, or maybe that Doritos commercial you saw. Marketers know this. It is their job to find out what drives you to part with your most prized possession; your MONEY.
Just for fun, browse the magazine isle at your local supermarket. See if you can figure out what motivates the potential readers just by looking at the picture on the front.
I can tell, for instance, that diabetics will pay for a magazine that tells them they can enjoy a luscious brownie parfait layered with gobs of whipped cream. Crafters get excited being reminded to start their Christmas projects in July. Car enthusiasts like to think they can get a scantily-clad woman to lean against their car provocitavely — Okay, okay . . . who doesn’t? — but you get my point.
It makes sense that if a publication appeals to a larger audience, they will have more people who will ultimately fork over their dough. Consequently, you regularly see articles for “Look your best in your 30s, 40s, and over 50.”
The age bracket I now fall into is “over 50.” Apparently, I am no different than those in their 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s. We are all lumped together. I am as likely to have ads directed at me for retirement, golf courses, and expensive vacations, as I am adult diapers and nursing homes. If the baby boomer generation has the purchasing power they say we do, the marketers haven’t figured it out yet.
Even the wrinkle-repair skin cream is advertised by models at least twenty years younger than myself. Is it time for me to say goodbye to pretty cosmetics and succumb to false teeth and slippers? Many of us in our 50s, 60s and 70s are still actively working out, buying computers, having *gasp* SEX, wearing make-up, and looking for some trendy fashion. I have peers raising young children and starting new careers. We grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. We wrote the book on groovy and invented free love! Now your going to tell us it’s time to tie a sweater around our shoulders and ride a bike with a basket on the front? Hold on here!
I actually enjoy reading Cosmopolitan. The fashion news is up to date, and the sex tips are always fun. But when scantily clad boys stare seductively at me from the pages, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable. Would it hurt to have one guy with a little grey at the temples . . . I mean, just to represent the small percentage of their readership over the drinking age?
I’d like to think I’m still a marketable demographic. Yet, opening up the pages of this national publication, I found that this cover story actually included How to Dress in Your 30s, 40s, 50s and also 60s.
If you remember nothing else about advertising, remember this:
Nothing is an accident.
While I applaud their effort to include women in their 60s, from a marketing perspective, thirty-somethings are not going to pay for pictures of clothing for old people. It is more profitable to this editor to sell publications to the younger group than the older one. Thus, the 60-year old customer was not advertised to, and she will have to stumble onto the article by chance.
Are the “50 and over” customers a tough crowd? Maybe we have grown too wise to be fooled out of our money. After all, I know the models are airbrushed, and I’m never going to see my abs again. (They left, actually, without leaving so much as a note.) I don’t need advice on asking my boss for a raise. (If I’m lucky they won’t notice I’m still there drawing a paycheck.) I know diets are a farce and I plan on living each day like there are no brownies in heaven. Only the AARP is still marketing to me, sending me eleven brochures every month. So far, not even the promise of member savings and a secret handshake have been enough to loosen my purse strings.
Opening the magazine below, I was promised ageless, chic looks. I found only . . . good God! . . . the Bride of Frankenstein!
And they wonder how they’ve lost the purchasing power of the baby boomers!