Are you giving your customers value?

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Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News
Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News

Value. As I perused the final draft pages of this month's issue, it struck me how many of our stories involve the idea of providing value to customers. 

No surprise coming off this recession that value is a lingering focus. An entire cottage industry is sprouting up around local and daily deals, with coupon stalwarts such as Valpak and upstart Groupon employing that strategy to fuel growth. Groupon's growth trajectory has been steep: Morgan Stanley estimates it will earn more than $500 million in revenue this year. Our news analysis looks at this business model, including potential drawbacks for direct marketers.

Duly Noted, our page dedicated to legislative matters, handicaps how the new Republican-dominated Congress might treat the US Postal Service's financial mess. The clear message is reduce costs or be voted out. 

A case study in this issue looks at a successful Procter & Gamble mail-in rebate program. Kroger and Toys “R” Us were among the 100 retailers that participated in this program that reached into a whopping 15,000 stores. Who said the rebate was dead? 

Value deals aren't limited to consumers. There's a growing trend of freebies among e-mail companies eager to acquire customers. In this model, e-mail marketers give businesses free versions of services. 

Our main feature tackles loyalty marketing. There's a current focus on giving loyal customers more value, more flexibility and more perks in return for brand dedication. That includes adopting the mentality of sending customers to competitors, a la Macy's Santa Claus referring customers to Gimbel's in the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street. Am I dating myself?

Marketers do need to be careful about value strategy overall, since deep discounting and freebies can set customers up to expect valuable goods and services for free or next to nothing. It's a fine line.

Finally, in his column, Scott Donaton talks about the importance of brands understanding and valuing customers. He ponders the marketing challenge inherent in consumers demanding relevant, targeted and engaging messaging, concluding marketers “must harness technology to talk to us as individuals while grouping us together to achieve scale.” I hope you find – ahem – value in this issue. ν

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