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Is your marketing telling customers to go away?

I travel a lot for business. Not Up in the Air level travel, but I probably do 4-5 hotel nights a month. So, I am not the top customer ever, but I figured I was someone worth pursuing. At least I thought so, since I seem to watch ads trail me all over the web every time I am booking a trip. But I have consistently been underwhelmed, as a marketer, when I try to figure out how any of these hotel brands are differentiated from each other.

Sure, I understand that the Ritz-Carlton is differentiated from the Red Roof Inn. But what is the difference between Motel 6 and Super 8? Hampton Inn and Courtyard? Hilton and Marriott? I really didn’t know. I just picked based on location. Whatever was closer won.

Hyatt-tells-customers-to-go-away

But recently, I finally got my answer. Now I know how to differentiate Hyatt from the rest. They sent me an email that basically said, “Stay with us or you lose all your points.” They sent this just a couple of weeks before the points ran out, so I already had my rooms booked for the next few trips.

But I thought, “Well, maybe I could use the points for something.” The Hyatt website taunted me with ways to redeem my points, but each click was fruitless, because I either did not have enough points or I had to pay Hyatt to keep them.

So after wasting some time on this call to action, I took action. I will never book Hyatt again. If I really need to stay at a Hyatt, I will book through Expedia and get the Expedia points. But I will try not to stay at a Hyatt. Apparently I hadn’t stayed there in two years, which is why they were dumping my points.

Is this good marketing? It doesn’t strike me so. Hyatt was just another indistinguishable hotel to me. But not anymore. Now they are the bottom of the barrel.

Now, I understand why Hyatt does this. The points are liabilities on their books and they want to wipe them out to increase profit. And sure, I am obviously not a loyal customer, so maybe they say, “Good riddance.” I wonder how smart that is. Instead of trying to find ways to really appeal to me, they are focused on an accounting trick.

So ask yourself: is your marketing telling people to go away?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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