One of my friends recently sent me a link to a sales page. This person (who shall remain completely nameless) was having a sale. The reason behind the sale? For the second time this year, they had experienced a natural disaster which had destroyed their living room. (Then even had photos of the destroyed room on their site.)
Now, I’m all for having a reason for a sale. I think having a reason for why you’re knocking the price down or adding an extra bonus makes it that much more compelling for people to actually buy.
But, there are good reasons and not-so-good reasons. This particular one falls under the category of not-so-good — and here’s why:
First off, people tend to shy away from people who seem to have a bad case of bad luck. Bad luck can be catching after all. Seriously, people want to hang around with winners. They want to hire or use products from people or businesses who are successful and lucky. Bad luck makes good television drama — after all, that’s why we watch the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy stumble through one unlucky situation to another, but in real life people want to hang around winners.
Telling people you were subject to not one but TWO natural disasters that basically destroyed the same room in less than a year is not smart marketing. Especially when in your sales letter you say “I did this sale last January, and made enough to pay for my new living room, but now eight months later, it’s destroyed again.” Is it even worth it to help pay for a new living room when, with this person’s luck, in another six months the whole house could be sucked up into a tornado?
Also, when you play the “woe is me” card, you run the risk of turning yourself into a charity. Bad luck happens. People will feel sorry for you. But do you really want people to give you money because they’re feeling sorry for you? Consider how that’s going to affect your brand down the line. Sure you might make a few bucks now, but what about a year from now?
So, is there a time to use the “woe is me” card? Well, there is, but not with you. I would use it to help someone else. For instance, maybe someone you know winds up with serious medical issues, and with it some serious financial issues. Perhaps you raise some money for them. Or maybe you raise money for a charity in their name. That would be acceptable.
But, I can hear you asking, what if something bad DOES happen to me, like I need that new living room?
Look, there’s nothing wrong with having a sale or a promotion to get some cash in the door, it’s just how you do it. Depending on what exactly happened to me, I may or may not use it. I might choose to have a different reason for a sale or promotion. And if I DID use it, I probably wouldn’t use another story like that for at least a good 10 years.