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Marketing Lessons From The Wedding Industrial Complex

August 11, 2014
Wedding dress

Photo courtesy of Michelle Yao

I’m about three weeks from getting married. Because of this, for the last few months, I’m been dealing withwedding-related things, one of which is a registry.

I’m 41 years old. My fiancé and I are both established. If anything, we have too much stuff.

But when you get married, at least in the United States, tradition is that you get gifts. And there is etiquette involved… For example, you can’t ask for cash. Or things an established couple (who happens to do a podcast together) could really use, like new microphones.

Sure, you don’t have to ask for anything, but what happens when you do that? You get stuff anyway.

But not what you want or can even use…

So we decided to play the game and set up a wedding registry. Not an online store, like Amazon, but a place that has a physical presence, since part of etiquette is knowing that some of the people who care about you don’t like to shop online.

We decided on Macy’s. They have stores everywhere, have a variety of stuff, and you have the option of ordering online.

The Wedding Industrial Complex

Laurel and I dropped in Macy’s on a weekday evening. Almost nobody was there.

I don’t recall having even been in Macy’s before this. In general, I can’t stand shopping malls.

We found the “Wedding Registry” section on the top floor. It was near the cookware section and the only other customers was a couple just slightly ahead of us in the wedding registry process. They were walking around with a scanning gun, adding things to their list.

Got in the Macy’s system. Then came the pitch…

“Do you know about our Dream Fund? It’s basically free money… But it only works if you have a Macy’s credit card.”

The details went something like this… If somebody buys something off our registry, and I have a Macy’s credit card, I get 5% of the whatever is spent as a gift certificate.

Free money indeed.

So I signed up.

An hour later, after we’d been through a bunch of cookware and found things to add to our list, I started questioning my decision. I already have some fancy metal credit card with a crazy limit, I have an airline credit card that gets me free flights, and. because I do so much shopping at Amazon, I have a Visa with their name on it.

Do I really need a single-store credit card that won’t work anywhere else?

Of course not. But the pitch was so good I signed up for it.

Now I’m getting flyers in the mail telling me about more stuff I don’t need…

The “Free Money” Pitch And You

If you’re looking to get more sales for a product-based business, something similar to the Macy’s pitch will work for you. If you’re a service-based, “coaching” business, it can be equally as powerful.

If you can help somebody to create money that wasn’t there, whether through extra sales or greater efficiency, and you’re willing to get paid a percentage of the extra you help to create, few people will turn you down. So if you’re looking for more clients, and you can actually do what you say you can, try it — you will write your own check.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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