I recently treated myself to a new laptop. A Sony Vaio – it’s chic, sleek, and tiny. After I got rid of all of the marketing crud – you know, the start up gobbledygook and free trial software – I fell in love with it. I love it so much that I also fell for the “Register and save 20% on accessories” offer that came in the slick little catalog insert in the box.
So, I went to the Sony registration site fully expecting that, after I provided a few nuggets of personal information, I would be launched directly into a shopping experience worthy of Sony Style. Unfortunately, that was not my destiny… First off, the entry form breaks all kinds of standards. For example, the birthday field isn’t marked as required but must be because, after several failed attempts with no error messages, I finally entered it and my registration was accepted. Whew! Now I’m ready for my Sony Style shopping experience… Sadly, I was disappointed again.
Now what? How do I get my discount? After three days, my hunger for the cool accessories had not abated so I called the 800 number provided on the catalog. The polite individual I spoke to informed me that I should receive an email with a discount code. “No ma’am, you can’t order the accessories now and get the discount. If you registered online, you should receive the email in a few days. If you don’t get it, give us a call back.” Sigh…
Finally, after 11 days (!!) I got the long awaited, “Thank you for registering” email. Here’s what it had to say:
Thank you for registering your Sony product on our web site. This email confirms you have successfully registered the following Sony product on our web site:
Name: Elana Anderson
Issue Date: 9/25/2007
Serial Number: N/A
A Special Offer from Sony Card:
1500 Reward Points after your first purchase*
No, I don’t want a credit card! I want my 20% discount! Refusing to relent, I called the 800 number again. This time I explained my situation and the service representative agreed to take my order and give me the discount. Mission accomplished – FINALLY! What should have been a simple seamless process took two weeks.
What does the Sony brand engender for you? If you are like most then great design, high quality, stalwart brand probably top the list. But my experience gives me a view into the inside: big organization, internal silos, and politics. The campaign I described here doesn’t have that many components — it shouldn’t be THAT hard to get right. But, this kind of campaign does touch different parts of the marketing department (people who probably don’t know each other and sit in different offices) and the broader business.
My advice? If you can’t get a simple integrated program like this right then don’t do it at all. Why? It damages your brand when you mess it
If you are running campaigns with multiple components that cross organizational silos then you need to organize the stakeholders and nail the process down. Understand the steps, define the handoff points, map the time between them. In the end, it’s all about the process. Ideally, a campaign like this is automated. But, sufficient testing is required up front to make sure it works. And, don’t forget to put some process checkpoints in place so that if something breaks along the way you get an alarm bell. You can have great creative (Sony does) but if the process is disjointed you lose business and look foolish.