Advertising Goes High-Tech
Of the eight key copy drivers—the emotional hot buttons that make people act—the most mysterious is exclusivity.
I never really understood exclusivity until Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme put a spotlight on it. As Laurence Leamer wrote in The Huffington Post:
It was an honor having him handle your fortune. He didn't take just anybody. He turned down all kinds of people, and that made you want to give the man even more of your money. When he took your fortune, he told you that he would tell you nothing about how he achieved his returns. He was a god. He had the Midas touch.
Web sites have been built on this exclusivity thing. Among them: Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and HauteLook.com. They offer to “members only” the same upmarket designer merchandise sold by Saks, but at deeply discounted sale prices during specific time periods.
Saks is fighting back with an exclusive online “private event” that the CEO of HauteLook.com calls “the new way of retail.”
It ain’t new.
Saks is engaging in a technique as old as the hills. It’s called good, ol'-fashioned, time-tested, accountable direct marketing.
A Business Model to Emulate
Quite simply, Saks is sending an e-mail alerting selected customers to a 36-hour sale on its Web site.
At expiration, three proprietary pools of information will be in the hands of the Saks marketing people:
- The number of responses and revenue, enabling Saks to do simple arithmetic and know quickly whether the promotion made or lost money.
- A database of customer purchases (behavior), so relevant offers can be made to those buyers.
- The most popular items, enabling Saks to tweak future offers for customers around the world who are online and also shop at the 109 owned and leased retail stores.
This is the Web version of a store sending snail-mail invitations to customers in the geographical area to alert them to an after-hours private showing where they can take advantage of tremendous savings before a major sale is announced to the general public. (“And please be sure to bring this invitation with you.”)