Faithful JCPenney shoppers got a rude awakening in February 2012 when the company implemented a huge change to its marketing strategy. Instead of weekly sales and a variety of coupons and promo codes, JCPenney instituted what it called “fair and square pricing.” The basic idea was that shoppers would get the stores’ best prices all the time and wouldn’t have to wait for a sale.
The strategy appears to be an epic fail thus far, with news reports showing large drops in sales at retail stores and online. My recent visits to my local JCPenney store seem to confirm this, as the place looks like a ghost town. The sales and marketing disaster may have played a role in the resignation of the company’s president this summer.
It appears things may be changing at JCPenney. For the first time in months, I’ve seen a money-saving promo code for use on the company’s website. You can use code EXTRA30 to get 30 percent off clearance items, along with free shipping on orders over $50. Since February, the only coupon codes I’ve seen the company offer have been for free shipping when you spent a specified dollar amount online.
I also recently received a paper coupon in the mail from JCPenney. It offered me $10 in an attempt to woo me back into the store to view the company’s new in-store boutiques devoted to various brands, such as Izod and Liz Claiborne.
Were you a JCPenney shopper before the new marketing strategy? What do you think it will take for the company to get back on track?
“Please make it stop”—that’s the subject line I used when emailing my Allstate agent this week. It referred to the barrage of telemarketing phone calls I’ve been receiving from my insurance company. I’ve only been an Allstate customer since July, and I’ve already asked the company twice to remove me from its telemarketing call list. My agent said she took my name off and even inputted a fake phone number for me into her system, but the calls keep coming.
Sometimes there are “live” people trying to sell me an Allstate Motor Club subscription. Other times there are automated phone calls that I hang up on before I hear what service is for sale. And phone calls aren’t the only marketing method Allstate uses on its customers. I get letters in the mail trying to convince me to purchase life insurance. I get automated newsletters from my agent pitching various services. It’s worse than walking into a car dealership where five salespeople are milling around the showroom. It’s like I’m running past lions wearing a meat poncho. Once they’ve got you in their sights, they just keep pursuing.
Maybe somewhere in some fine print I signed when establishing my automobile and homeowner’s policies, I unwittingly agreed to be targeted by Allstate’s marketing department. Here’s the thing—if I want more insurance, I’ll call and ask for a quote. I don’t want an email box cluttered with marketing messages or trees dying in the name of selling me additional insurance. And I sure don’t want telemarketers from a company I am paying already to call me.
This week, I used a link provided in the emails to unsubscribe, so hopefully, those messages will stop. My agent said she found out about five additional tasks she has to complete to stop the phone calls—this sounds like a very inefficient way of protecting customer’s privacy and respecting their wishes. I sent her an email this morning to ask how I can end the U.S. mail solicitations.
My advice to Allstate: take an opt-in approach to marketing. Ask customers to explicitly agree to receiving your sales pitches, or be thankful for their existing business with your company and leave them be. Your current approach is not a hallmark of quality customer service.