Too good to be true? The $1,200 gift marketing fail (and what it says about our attitudes)

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$1,200 dish network
$1,200 in free money. Sure, if you qualify . .

Here’s the deal. You have received a call saying you may be eligible to receive $1,200 from the Dish Network if you respond by June 18, 2018.

Your likely reaction: It’s some sort of telemarketing scam and something best to avoid.

But in this case it isn’t a scam. It seems the satellite company lost a class action lawsuit involving some 18,000 people for violating the telemarketing Do Not Call list regulations back in 2011. The case took a long time because Dish took the it to trial — and lost, with a $57 million judgement against it.

While the final payout may not happen or be somewhat less than $1,200 after all the legal costs and possible appeals are considered, Dish’s lawyers have been having trouble connecting with the individuals in the class action because, well, they don’t believe the story is for real. In fact, close to 70 per cent of the individuals who could receive the funds are declining to take the company’s calls or answer its communications. You can see the story in this published report, among several on the topic.

Here’s the link to verify if your phone number is among the 18,000 whose owners may be eligible for the $1,200 payout (yes it’s real).

“What we are trying to do is establish the connect between ourselves and the class members,” attorney John Barrett told The Penny Hoarder. “We want to establish that connection so that when the time comes six to 12 months from now, we can connect with them easily and get them paid.”

Ah, for marketing trust. In this case, I suspect, Dish has a double problem. I mean, if you care enough not to be bothered about a telemarketing call to be put on a Do Not Call registry, it is quite reasonable you will really be skeptical about some long-forgotten class action lawsuit with an offer of free money on the line.

However, Justin Jacobs at Hudson Inc. takes this skepticism a step further and suggests in a marketing eletter that your efforts to attract response with marketing offers can result in “too good to be true” responses, especially if you try to make the offer so enticing that it really draws attention.  (And a non-attention-grabbing offer will, inherently, not do much, so that won’t help at all.)

He suggests it is important to add credibility-building elements into your marketing messages.

As an example:

Instead of just claiming your service is a “$297 value for just $99” and leaving it at that, do the math for them. “Our tune-up includes _______ – which is a $99 value, ________ – a $99 value and _________– a $99 value. Normally you’d pay $297 for all these services, but right now it’s just $99 for all three.” Justify your claim, and they’ll become less skeptical that you’re just throwing meaningless numbers around for attention.

Or, if you have an offer, make it one you can truly guarantee, rather than an extravagant “up to” claim — even if it means you send the message to fewer, truly qualified, people.

There are two ways of presenting an offer with incentives. Say you have $700 in rebates to offer a prospect, and your headline reads, “You could qualify for up to $700 cash back.” The skeptical mind reads that as, “Yeah, maybe somebody could… but with my luck I’ll qualify for $3.29.”

How do you attack this one? Lose the “up to” verbiage, find the lowest amount anyone would qualify for and GUARANTEE at least that amount – even if that means you can only send out to fewer, more qualified candidates. “You qualify for AT LEAST $529 in cash back, maybe more.”That’s a subtle change but telling me, the pessimist, I DO QUALIFY for $529, I just have to call and claim it is better than telling me I MIGHT qualify for $700, but I’ve got to call and find out.

These are good points. There is also another lesson from the Dish Network story. Make sure your marketing stays on the right side of truthfulness and the law. You may not get hit with a $57 million lawsuit for violating the Do Not Call regulations, but you can be snared in other messy situations if you fail to play by the rules.

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