11 October 2009

Painting Ourselves into a Corner

I saw an infomercial today for Point 'n Paint, an amazing little gadget that allows you to "paint an entire room in less than an hour." As someone who has done his fair share of painting, I watched with great interest as the commercial demonstrated how this "best edger ever" gets "perfect results every time." To think, I could have saved hundreds of dollars, countless work hours, and three quarters of my sanity had I simply known about this $19.95 painting innovation.

As great as this gadget looks, there is no way in Albuquerque I'm going to buy one. Here's why:

1. I don't trust the message. It looks too good to be true (and turns out it probably is based on the reviews here and here [warning, foul language]). Painting sucks. If you tell me that you can make it not suck, I don't believe you. Tell me that you'll make it suck less, and you have a shot. But, it will ALWAYS suck.

2. I don't trust the salesperson. I don't know a thing about Anthony Sullivan except that I don't trust him. He looks like a con artist, and sounds like a con artist. The last time I bought something from a guy like him, I ended up with a tub of OxiClean that is just this side of useless.

3. I don't trust the medium. Infomercials are sketchy. You could have the most legitimately useful product on the planet at the perfect price, but the second you use an infomercial to sell it I go into full skeptic mode. The ads are cheesy. The settings are typically fake. The "demonstrations" are unreliable. You could be selling $50 bills for $19.95 with an infomercial, and I would probably still turn the channel.

The amazing thing? This is a $19.95 purchase. Think about what goes through consumers' minds when they see financial services marketing, where trust means everything and the price tag is much higher than a sack full of Sham-Wows.

Say, for the sake of argument, that Point 'n Paint is the biggest innovation to hit the painting world since Bob Ross. Their marketing is more suitable for a county fair midway than a Home Depot sales floor. Its marketing team sacrificed credibility and trust for quick sales. I'm not buying it, and chances are you aren't buying it either. At least not because of an infomercial.

True innovations get noticed by thought leaders. I'd buy it when my best friend's painting company decides to toss out his paint rollers in favor for this product. I'd buy it if I saw David Bromstad use it on his show because it saves him tons of time and works well.

Is your credit union painting itself into a corner with its marketing? Are you searching for a quick sale, or a relationship? Are you the one saying "But wait, there's more," or are you giving members reasons to tell their networks for you?


Ron Shevlin said...

Good points. And interesting timing of your comments considering TD Ameritrade hawked retirement programs on QVC this past weekend, which was the first time the network ever sold a wealth management product.

And you're probably correct when you say "...and chances are you aren't buying it either" because those of us who read this blog didn't buy it. But I'm not sure we're the targeted demographic here.

It would be interesting to know exactly how PnP did sales-wise with its infomercial. While I'm sure that not all are successful, enough of them must be for firms to continue to to them.

Denise Wymore said...

Anytime we have to bribe our members to join, we lower ourselves to infomercials.

If you have to PAY me to refer, or worse yet PAY me to join, something must be wrong.

Also - what kind of message does it send to existing/loyal members? We got you - now we're gonna use your money to buy a complete stranger's business. You get nothin' from us - and you'll like it!

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Ron I would imagine the ad campaign has been profitable. My assumption, however, is that the sales performance is short-lived. It was a calculated risk, for sure. Quite honestly, it was probably the best business decision available for Point 'n Paint to become a money maker. I think they cheapened themselves with the message, the messenger, and the medium for a quick return. It reminds me of the Willie Nelson lyric, "Let the devil take tomorrow 'cause tonight I need a friend."

As for TD Ameritrade, I actually like their move. QVC is a marked step up from infomercials. They're still staged, but at least they are aired live. I think the medium openened them up to a brand new market in a much classier way than any Billy Mays spot could have. I'm very curious to see what kind of results they achieved.

@Denise Your last point is the one that drives me nuts. If your credit union's major selling point is how well you take care of members, why are you so hell bent on spending their money on attracting strangers? Have you grown bored with your existing members? It's not the intended message, but it could definitely be received that way.