Meeting Basic Expectations

Demand Creation ‌• December 20, 2012

‘Twas a week before Christmas and my inbox was jammed,

With offers and coupons for sweaters and ham.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear,

But an email that brought to my eyes a small tear.

It was from [Name Redacted], my favorite store,

And offered me deals to end the Xmas shopping chore.

Although they have all the items I like,

I can only buy in-store and it just ain’t worth the hike.

When I’ve been driven to rhyming, you know it must be bad. Like you, I probably received 836 emails today with holiday shopping offers. Unlike you, I still have a lot of holiday shopping to mark off the list (at least I hope this is unlike you anyway – there’s nothing worse than scrambling to finish up when there are 5 days to go) so I am all about anyone that can send me a compelling deal and still get it to me before next Tuesday.

An email from one of my two favorite department stores arrived today and it intrigued me enough to actually open it as it was offering 40% off. “Perfect!” I thought. “Now I can finish my shopping at a one-stop shop and get the last gifts I need!”

And then I actually read for comprehension and realized it was in-store only. If you’re anything like me, you would give almost anything, pay almost any shipping cost, go to almost any sketchy third-party site just to avoid having to go to the mall (look at what happened to me last time I tried). And most vendors have caught onto this–especially those who know that if they’re sending an email in the late morning on a workday, they’re pretty likely to reach someone who cannot readily drop by their storefront.

It’s simple really–in addition to meeting your prospects where they are with the right content at the right time (all checks in the “Yes” column for this department store), you have to meet basic expectations. I think it’s pretty obvious that from Thanksgiving to New Year, people want ease. Sure there are some who will nearly kill themselves to take advantage of a Black Friday sale, but a lot of us just want to get the holiday shopping rigmarole done as efficiently as possible.

Although this is a B2C story, it translates easily into the B2B space, particularly when you consider that B2B customers are acting more and more like consumers. Expectations for usability, versatility, and availability are high. If you’re not meeting prospects and customers where they are with the solutions they need, how can you have any hope of making a sale? Getting someone interested is only part of the equation–giving them the right next step is even more important.

Don’t take my word for it though–look at what your competitors are doing. The email in question came within seconds of three other emails from retailers promising I could find great deals online and get free or cheap shipping to receive by Christmas. If your customers expect it and your competitors offer it, guess who’s going to win every time?


Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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