Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Two Way Street.

Seth Godin used his stop light post to highlight the need for systems to be organised. In doing so, he reminded me of an article that argues that the elimination of traffic-calming devices leads to safer streets.

There's no contradiction here. The fewer restrictions you place on your customers, the more co-operative and collaborative realtionship you will foster. That's one of the great lessons of the blogosphere conversation - regulation is not needed to get people to co-operate, they can do that automatically. Limits are needed because an entirely unregulated system will disintegrate in the face of self-interested behaviour.

Marks and Spencer used to allow free "no questions asked" returns of all their goods. This greatly enhanced their reputation with their customers. It lasted for decades until shoplifters worked out that they could effectively fence their haul back to the stores at full face value and elements of the general public started to use the returns system as an informal free dress hire agency.

The golden rule is to make everything easy for your customers, but you do have the right to choose who those customers are. I wrote yesterday that potential customers should not be be treated as fools. But you should also be aware that some of them will take you for a fool if you let them.

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