A little experiment ….

Yesterday one of my colleagues told me I’m in the top five highest users of the company’s employee purchase program — essentially the discount I get for buying PCs from Lenovo.

There is a limit to the number of times one can hit this program. It is meant for “family and friends” which I take liberally to mean anyone I see sitting on an airplane, train, park bench, or alone on a couch at a birthday party. Mac vs. PC? Here’s my discount code. Sick of the virus infested rowboat anchor your cat wouldn’t use as a litter box? Here’s my discount code.

My first year at the company I moved maybe 15 PCs. Now?  Who knows. But I once won a monitor for my efforts and free is good. I don’t suspect there are any internal contests running right now, but as a naughty experiment I tweeted my passcode yesterday in front of my colleague and boasted I would be the Man in a week.

Hmm. Now doubt and remorse have set in. We had an employee discount code go viral – and hosed the system so badly that the affected orders were known by his last name as we worked through the backlog. I hope not to become public enemy number one of the Employee Purchase Program team, but hey, a sale is a good thing. Right?

No. I won’t post the code here. This is a test of twitter — not blogs.  Posting the code here would be an automatic discount for anybody lazy enough to search for the info.  I deleted the tweet as well. So let’s see if 16 hours of visibility among my 270 followers (I have followers, I can summon them with a dog whistle which is inaudible to human ears and they come staggering out of the corn fields, arms outstretched, moaning) is enough to get me in trouble with the EPP lords.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “A little experiment ….”

  1. David – this made me laughingly recall a similar incident at long gone, early-days internet retailer valueamerica.com. We had a “Value Dollars” program that went awry and we were literally giving away the store for a few days.

    Of course, that’s very different than using your code to promote the products – what might be interesting is if you can place a condition on the code: “Can we follow up with you in a few months to see how things are going?” and likely you turn the Twitter discount-hunters into Lenovo advocates, well worth the discount.

    I know that was the plan all along… and I think you could avoid persecution from your Purchase Program Peers by simply explaining: This brave new world is all about experimentation.

  2. David, I’m sure you are onto something here. We know that the employee pricing promotions have moved thousands of cars for the auto makers. I think you’ve got the blueprint for social media-supported employee pricing promotions. It’s the perfect win-win for product companies looking to empower their employees as marketers, and to boost sales.
    Cool stuff.

  3. I’m good for a bunch of those each year. This year, I should be at 4.

    Next year, I put your code up for sale on ebay…

    kidding!

    And those aren’t followers. I shan’t call them by name here.

  4. Don’t feel bad, Dave. You made this reader very happy. 🙂 Note that I use FriendFeed combined with the AlertThingy, which makes all past Tweets locally stored and searchable. But I promise to keep it to myself!

  5. David,

    A for a cool idea. But, suppose you allow, oh, 10 sales a year per employee, and you drove 1000 employees to do this. 10K units. Not bad. The test is whether you’ve just unlocked incremental revenue for your brand, or just gave away margin.

    Was there a secondary benefit of unique relationship building which will pay out further dividends? Perhaps. You almost need a social map to track those who purchased through the program to see how that worked out.

    What if you added a referrer discount, to take that core group of 10K, and in turn given them a magic wand to knock, oh 5% off anyone else’s order that they could talk into buying?

    With all these things, the challenge seems to be unlocking organic growth without selling out your brand value which normally commands (in theory) a higher margin.

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