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August 05, 2005

Marketing Intervention Guidelines

We are humbled by the overwhelming response to the Brand Autopsy Discount Detox Center (B.A.D.D.C.). Since we announced the formation of the B.A.D.D.C. a few days ago, we have received inquiries from concerned businesspeople around the globe seeking treatment for discount addicted marketers.

As a public service, the Brand Autopsy Discount Detox Center is making available its Marketing Intervention Guidelines for concerned businesspeople wanting to conduct a marketing intervention.

A marketer who is severely dependent and is unwilling or unable to see the severity of their addiction to discounting needs a marketing intervention. In a marketing intervention, a group of concerned co-workers, marketers, and others confront the discount addicted marketer. Each person in the group writes a letter stating exactly how the marketer’s addiction to discounting has negatively affected their life. In this letter, they share their love and concern for the marketer and ask that they seek treatment. The marketer is told, in a loving, gentle and supportive way, they are not the problem, but the discount illness is the problem.

It is difficult for the marketer’s wall of denial to hold up under all of this love and most of the time, the marketer will agree to go into treatment. If the marketer refuses, the truth has still come out and this often leads to treatment at a later time.

While it is best to use a trained marketing interventionist to help you develop the intervention strategy, you can conduct the intervention yourself. The following Marketing Intervention Guidelines from the Brand Autopsy Discount Detox Center will help you design and conduct your intervention.

  • Bring together a minimum of three and maximum of eight people who are important to the business and to the marketer in particular. The best marketing intervention groups have a broad mix of people including some from outside the company such as customers and vendors.

  • Set up a planning meeting with all participants to discuss the intervention. Be very discreet in all your actions so as not to alert the suffering marketer.

  • Each group member is to write a letter to the addicted marketer listing how they may have helped to enable the addiction and all the negative consequences caused by the marketer’s addiction. Each letter should close with a statement asking the marketer to seek treatment for their addiction.

  • Rehearse the intervention with all the group members. And at this meeting, set a date, time, and place for the actual intervention to occur. You will also need to create a plan to bring the addicted marketer to the intervention as well as choose a treatment center. If the chosen treatment center is out-of-town, then you will need to make necessary travel arrangements.

  • The intervention group will need to identify objections the addicted marketer may use to avoid or postpone treatment and then formulate appropriate responses.

  • Plan to be at the intervention location 30 minutes before the addicted marketer is expected to arrive.

  • At the intervention, confront the addicted marketer by reading your letters aloud, editing out anger, blame, and judgment. Read the best, most heartfelt and tender letter last. (Usually a letter from a concerned customer cracks any addicted marketer’s wall of denial.)

  • After the intervention, call the admissions staff at the chosen treatment center and let them know whether or not the addicted marketer has agreed to treatment.

  • Collect all letters and send them to the addicted marketer’s counselor at the treatment center.
  • Click here to read the following sample Marketing Intervention Letter (.pdf).



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    Ahh .. at last, some recognition for this awful wasting condition - Discountitis.

    I’d like to ask John and Andy, do you think that your intervention technique would work for Asian marketers who have, what I fear is a related condition, the equally deadly “Buy one and get X free” disease?

    Having run out of ideas for consumers to buy their product/credit card/insurance policy etc – there is a “what can we give for free” arms war going on out here as marketers succumb ever deeper to their addiction. Holidays to Sydney for buying photocopy paper, A Ferrari for taking a credit card … the list goes on.

    Last week I counted how many time “Free” appeared on marketing I saw on my 15 min journey to work – over 30 times.

    John, Andy – please come to Singapore, there is an epidemic going on and we need treatment.

    I think we also need to comment on a different, but related disease, Retailwaitus. This condition affects shoppers who will never purchase a product or service unless there seems to be some fantastically reduced coeficient affixed to its price. These poor souls have been known to put off necessary purchases for months rather than by an item at a reasonable price, hoping to find an "amazing deal" or even the ellusive "total steal."

    There is some thought among the medical marketing community, I believe, that these folks are carriers for various discount dependency diseases.

    Personally, I have tried to treat Retailwaitus with good overall brand health, sales training, clean stores, compelling copy and an appeal to the male libido. Sometimes it works. Between the day after Thanksgiving and January 2, however, Retailwaitus takes on endemic proportions in the US, however, and almost no American adult will escape its clutches.

    Andy ... excellent observations. Shoppers suffering from “Retailwaitus” possess codependent traits. Codependency, in discount addiction situations, refers to a relationship where shoppers enable the business to act in maladaptive marketing ways.

    To enable the business with its discount addiction, the codependent shopper makes excuses and lies to themselves for the addicted business, which enables the addiction to continue. Codependency is reinforced by a shopper's need to be needed. The enabler thinks irrationally by believing s/he can maintain a healthy relationship with the business through only buying products on sale or with coupons.

    The act of enabling causes a tremendous amount of hurt in a relationship between shoppers and businesses. It can be a truly painful experience to watch such well-intended shoppers inflict misery on already discount addicted businesses.

    At the Brand Autopsy Discount Dextox Center we hold “Disabling the Enabling” half-day sessions with codependent shoppers of businesses in our treatment program.

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