Discounts! Coupons! X% off! We all love a sweet deal. I mean, who doesn't want an incentive to purchase a product or service? It's what persuades our behaviors as consumers to pick one brand over another — and unless we have a sacred affinity to a specific brand & their products {Apple Macs/iPods or Nike shoes} we're typically swayed by these offerings.

50_percent_offWhat got me thinking is the social web and how we, as consumers, respond to brands that are utilizing these platforms to build a community but to also attract new customers. Razorfish recently conducted a study on this, stating that special offers drive engagement in social media. Some interesting takeaways:

  • Those who follow a brand on Twitter, 44% did so to receive exclusive deals (37% Facebook)
  • 24% follow a brand on Twitter for customer service (33% Facebook)
  • 64% made their first purchase from a company as a result of a digital interaction

Garrick Schmitt of Razorfish, also stated:

To retain and add customers, marketers need to shift focus from brand awareness and impressions to creating campaigns that drive people to make purchases and spread the word about products and services they use to friends.

While I agree these product-driven strategies have been successful for big and small businesses, I'm curious how sustainable it can be in the long run. Gaining customers through special offers may be obtainable, but what happens when that next, more exclusive deal comes from a competitor?

What I feel has even more value, in addition to this study, is organizations offering exclusive content to their community. Providing value, not just monetarily, but by connecting them with content that is 1 — solving a need through direct communication and 2 — created specifically for that social community. Ultimately, creating longer-lasting customer relationships.

So, I ask you this:

Can a sustainable relationship be built between a customer and a brand — solely through exclusive deals? Or does it require more of a connection, driven by not just $, but through content that provides value and engages the community outside of the product itself?