They want a marshmallow, not a coupon

Thursday 8th, December 2016

by Meredith McLean


Advertising has come a long way from ‘use ours and you’ll look better’ (although some might argue that point too.) Now there’s digital advertising, traditional media, SEO, SEM, EDMs, all sorts of balls you need to be juggling. But there’s still a gap in the Australian market. Yes, we’re Australian but we’ll wholeheartedly say it – Australians just aren’t game enough to be creative.

New Zealand, USA, Japan, Brazil. They’re all beating us.

We’re afraid to stray too far from the tried and tested. It’s naturally the Aussie way. We’re laid back, we take our public holidays seriously and our advertising is getting too gun-shy. But that’s not what our consumers want. They don’t want safe, tried and tested, simple all the tie. Sometimes, just sometimes, they want a story, not a coupon.

If you want to get your product out there, throw a few coupons in an EDM. No doubt it’ll improve your click rate and you’ll see a quick spike in sales, but if you’re looking to be big, not just still breathing, you need engagement and long-term strategy. The days of the fix-all miracle coupon cure are over,  at least for the major demographics that will be buying your brand first before they buy the product.

The “Coupon” is that kid on the swing no one will play with. Sure, the kids will probably still trade lunches with “Coupon”, because “Coupon’s” Mum makes the best sandwiches and packs an extra LCM, but “Coupon” will never be accepted into the fold. We know it doesn’t work as well as other updated strategies. So, why are we still trying?

Now, let’s talk about marshmallows.

If you’re scratching your head, who remembers the Marshmallow Test? A group of children are taken into a room one by one. They are shown a marshmallow sitting on a plate. They are told you can eat this marshmallow right now and it’ll taste great, or, if you sit and wait patiently for the next 20 minutes we’ll come back and give you 2 marshmallows for your patience. How many of those kids do you think waited, and which ones were happier for it?

Marketing is the same game – you can go for the coupon now, gain a few short-term customers hungry for discounts and watch them walk out the door perhaps hopefully having splurged on a few extra things. Or you can play the long game, create a brand strategy, and invest in their loyalty before you reward them with coupons and other treats.

So for a strong lasting campaign let’s develop strategy, a story and some daring creative, with just a sprinkling of coupons and other digital treats. Concepts will last, while coupons will fade.

Don’t go shallow on the sweetest marshmallow.