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How To Screw Up A Sponsorship

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Sales people are striking out when it comes to customer service.

If you've ever attended a Rays game at the Trop, you're probably familiar with a promotion sponsored by Kanes Furniture and Papa John's Pizza that offers a free pizza for everybody in attendance if Rays pitchers combine to strike out 10 or more opponents. It's a pretty brilliant piece of marketing if you think about it...

  • It links two sponsors for the same promotion
  • It's performance based, not just another giveaway
  • It's only for people who attend the games in person
  • The really brilliant part: It actually requires visiting the sponsors in person after the game to redeem the prize.

I'm guessing someone with Kanes came up with the idea because they've done similar promotions at Lightning games. I'm also guessing the people who came up with the idea would be less than thrilled to know that the fans showing up at their stores to redeem those prizes aren't exactly getting the red carpet treatment.

What's happening is fans are showing up and being greeted by a salesperson. Once it's determined why the fan is there, the salesperson takes on a "Oh. You're just here for the pizza" demeanor and points them to a "customer service" desk, where a clerk may or may not even get up from their seat to direct the fan to sign a clipboard before receiving the voucher for the pizza.

As a result, the fan feels self-conscious, almost guilty for participating. I'm not saying this happens every time, but it happens often. And not just to me personally, but plenty of other people said they have had this experience at different locations. Some of them are so turned off by their experience that they say they won't go back, 10 strikeouts or not. That's crazy to me, especially with the economy the way it is. I'll bet most people could think of at least a couple merchants struggling to make ends meet who would salivate at the idea of a few thousand people being driven through their doors.

I understand that many people who don't need new furniture are going to want to get in and out of a Kanes store without enduring a lengthy sales pitch. I also understand that a salesperson at a furniture store gets paid to sell furniture, not hand out free food, and that dealing with people who obviously aren't there to buy furniture might be a waste of valuable time.

But new furniture is something most people will need at some point in their lives. It seems like it would suit a salesperson's best interests to be friendly and accommodating in the hope that the person who doesn't need end tables or a bedroom set today, might remember being treated well and return when they do.

Something along the lines of :

Here to claim your pizza voucher? Right this way. Soriano looked great last night, didn't he? What a game! Just fill out this form and we'll get your voucher for you. Feel free to look at some of our displays and let me know if I can help you today or in the future. Here's my card.

It would take less than 10 seconds of extra effort (if you even want to call it that) to make someone feel appreciated and not like a pub crawler in Ybor looking for a public restroom. Ten seconds that could make the difference between whether or not that person becomes a customer.

This seems like a case of the front-line employees screwing up a pretty good idea from the home office.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.