Engineering Your Own Discounts and Incentives with Social Media

January 20, 2009
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I just got off the phone with David Churbuck, the VP of Web Marketing at Lenovo.  We had an interesting conversation about social media, marketing, and customer relations.  A topic that came up was brand and customer engagement through social media for the purpose of receiving (or giving) discounts or incentives to purchase or use […]

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I just got off the phone with David Churbuck, the VP of Web Marketing at Lenovo.  We had an interesting conversation about social media, marketing, and customer relations.  A topic that came up was brand and customer engagement through social media for the purpose of receiving (or giving) discounts or incentives to purchase or use a product/service , or as David cleverly puts it, “reverse coupon engineering.”

Let me explain.

Let’s say you are a company such as Comcast, you’re monitoring the social media space and come across a customer who says “should I go with Comcast or Charter Communications as my internet provider?”  Naturally if you’re Comcast you want to do whatever you can to persuade the customer to go with your service, so what do you do?  Well, why not offer the customer and incentive?  “If you go with Comcast I will get you HBO free for 3 months and won’t charge you an installation fee.”

Now Charter Communications chimes in and says “we will give you HBO for a 6 months and will lower your monthly payment by 20%.”

and the customer replies:

“Great Comcast it is”

Do you see what just happened here?  As David mentioned on the phone with me, it’s the Lending Tree slogan that says “when banks compete, you win.”  In other words, users are going to understand that brands and companies are watching the social media space and will begin “engineering” their own coupons by asking publicly, “which product or service should I by?”  This hasn’t happened on a large scale yet, but it might, especially through a platform such as twitter.  This is actually a very interesting concept.  Imagine creating bidding or coupon wars between companies on public social media channels in order to receive the best possible deal.

If I say I want a laptop with 4 gigs of ram, a 160 gb hard drive, 15.4 in screen, (etc) and I don’t want to pay more than $1,000, then you would expect (in a brand active social media world) that I would receive offers or bids from Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, etc.  The challenge for companies is going to be scaling these coupons or services.  If I buy my laptop through the Dell website for $800 but then find out that someone else got their exact same laptop through twitter $700, then I might get a little upset.

How does an enterprise size corporation deal with this?  Is this even a possible scenario?  Does this mean that pricing for products/services can become relative?  There are a lot of questions that I can ask (and I’m sure you can to) regarding what this means for business (if it’s possible) but I am curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Let’s hear it!


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