What hair and hockey taught me about conversions

I told this story recently at the New Zealand Content Marketing Conference #2014CMC, and it was well received – probably the most interesting part of my presentation was about how I managed to embarrass myself, again!

It’s a story about how cool customer incentives and promotions that everybody will love, aren’t necessarily – it fact quiet probably not – going to help you to achieve your objectives.

A few years ago my teenage daughter played wing for her school hockey team. In my mind – think rugby and soccer football – wings score goals… We went half the season with no goal from her, despite the fact that the team was very good and well coached and winning most games by five or six goals.

So I asked her why she thought she wasn’t scoring any goals. All I got was a non-committal shrug in response. So I asked her that if I offered her an incentive, would she make more of an effort?

My motive was to get her to try harder and experience the thrill of scoring. Playing is fun, but winning is more fun; and scoring goals is even more fun. Right?

She thought this was a good idea. I asked her what she thought would be a good incentive. She replied: “A GHD!”

I said: “What’s a GHD?”

She said: “A hair straightener.”

I thought, a hair straightener – that’s what, $40 or $50? So I said: “Well for that I’m going to need two goals.”

We get home and she tells her mother: “Dad’s buying me a GHD!”

I said “Wait a minute, you have to score two goals first.”

She just shrugged her shoulds and my wife looked appalled. “Do you know how much a GHD costs?” she asked me.

I replied: “$20?”

“$350!” My wife actually yelled at this point.

I was shocked, but I replied casually. “Half way through the season and she hasn’t scored yet. Don’t worry about it. We’ll be fine.”

Next morning in the car she said to me: “I can’t wait to get my GHD on Friday.”

“Score two goals first,” I replied, in the midst of sense of humour failure.

Well, at her very next game she scored two goals within the first five minutes.

She gave me a thumbs up and grin after the second goal that said: “Thanks for my very expensive GHD dad!”

And then she never really bothered to score another goal again (I think she may have actually scored one more goal that season, but not because she was driven by any great desire to do so).

She got what she wanted. I’m not sure that I did… I also didn’t understand my target market properly. Her job was actually to set the centre-forward up to score, which she enjoyed doing.

In the business context, when we give away cool stuff like iPad’s and GHDs, how sure are we that they will help us achieve our business objectives?

What’s the value of a million ‘likes’ if none of them are potential customers?

Stuff that might seem boring to us, like white papers, eBooks, guides and infographics may seem boring to us, but that’s because we’re too close to the business.

To a customer who is serious about making a purchase; who is in the middle of an information gathering and decision making process, these kinds of incentives aren’t boring at all.

In fact, a white paper is a great qualifier.

If somebody bothers to download your ‘whitepaper’ you can bet your bottom dollar that they are a serious prospect.

That’s why cool incentives aren’t necessarily good for business.

Let's Work Together