This Old Pledge Week

It’s pledge week for both my local public television stations. And frankly, it’s annoying on many levels.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like public TV. I watch both these channels quite a bit. But here’s the problem.

The shows that they air during “pledge week” are REALLY hard to find on the station during the rest of the year. The rest of the year I have to scan for something good between British non-humour and watching zebras mate. But, for now, every show is really good except when they interrupt it with pleas for money a.k.a. “gifts”.

Ahhh, but they really aren’t gifts. People are buying the CD with their $20 gift. Or you could buy the DVD with your $50 gift. Or you can get the CD, the DVD, and the limited edition hardcover commemorative book with the fold out sleeve and a compass in the stock for your $100 gift.

In reality, these gifts make the station blind to their own ruse. They see the $100 pledges come in and can promote the “fact” that people in the community support public TV. No. People in the community want to buy $100 CDs.

But what annoys me more than anything are the blatant lies. “Only you can keep this type of music on public television”…..”You’re helping to keep Elvis’ music alive with your pledge”….”You’re supporting this traditional gospel music with your donation.”

You’re not supporting anything. You’re giving money to the station who probably won’t broadcast anything like what you’re watching until the next time they need money. And I guess they do need the money. But it’s another example of a business achieving short term gains while killing their long term prospects.

What about the politically conservative little old lady who sent in 20 bucks because she wanted to “support” the gospel music of Bill Gaither? Next week, she’ll tune in and see a show that features things that are the polar opposite of her moral compass.. Or what about the die-hard Elvis fan who sent in 50 bucks to keep rock-n-roll alive (and to get the CD) and tunes in next week only to find musical choices that are anything but rock-n-roll? Are the people you’re tricking this week going to stick with you the rest of the year? Or will they be back next year?

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a tirade against public TV. It’s a tirade against ANY business (your business?) that lies/fudges/puts on a show this week to trick someone into a sale….and then scratches their head next week when their core customer base shrinks.

Are you putting on theatre this week? Are you now offering specials that are REALLY going to be hard to find the rest of the year? Do you think your business model is a success just because people are giving you money…or are they really just trying to get a “gift” that has nothing to do with your business?

Are you killing your own customer base?

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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  1. […] get this type of information anywhere else”, it devolved into “buy a subscription and get a CD and an umbrella“. News media have forgotten what they’re really selling so the consumer has forgotten […]