By Kerry Roberts

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment of complete confusion and stop to reflect?   I work from home so I am constantly toggling between work and personal emails with no worry that a boss is looking over my shoulder as I wish a friend Happy Birthday on Facebook.  Sometimes this freedom is a problem.

Today’s case in point:  Neiman Marcus occasionally sends out an email titled “Mid Day Dash”.  It is just as it sounds.  A collection of designer goods of very limited supply, and only online, offered at prices over 65% off.   Did the hair on the back of your arms just go up?  I started off innocently enough, perusing these emails . . . window shopping as it were.

Then one day I spotted a handbag that I had had my eye on for weeks – at half of the retail value.  I quickly added it to my shopping bag and was running for my credit card with a grin, only to receive an auto-reply message that it was out of stock?  Not available?  How could that be, I received the email 90seconds ago, how can it already not be available?    The staff member on their chat service confirmed that the item had sold out immediately.   That is when I realized it.  I was engaged in an every girl for herself clickity clacking with lightening speed on her keyboard to snag these designer goods.

Today the email came again and I was ready, I pounced on the site, skimmed thru the goods with a practiced eye, and loaded my virtual shopping bag.  I was just about to hit ‘checkout’ when I stopped to ask myself if I even WANTED these items.  I realized my pulse was racing, my breathing was heavy – it was such a visceral reaction that I had to stop and give kudos to Neiman Marcus for their brilliance.  (and then, with all the restraint in the world, I wrote this blog instead of completing my purchase)

A few lessons from Neiman Marcus’ Mid Day Dash:

  • The Power of an Overt Call to Action:  Act Fast.  Act Now.  It does not get any more overt or explicit than “Mid Day Dash”.  I can almost hear the gun going off in their Corporate Offices.
  • Focus on the Score:  At 65% off, I know that I would have still paid too much for these items.  But knowing that I would have paid less than half of retail is somehow more gratifying than the absolute price.
  • Make it a Competition:  Setting your consumers against each other might seem harsh, but it is brilliant in a virtual reality.   I don’t actually have to shove or elbow anyone out of the way, I just have to be fastest.
  • Time it and Tag it:  Neiman Marcus knows that all over the US there are professional women who take a few minutes over lunch to peruse the web or personal email.  Their Mid Day Dash is a brilliant exploitation of this insight, and Tagging it a “Dash” is genius branding.

Despite all this rational reflection, I will continue to bravely compete in the Mid-Day Dash.  And if this blog has recruited any new racers . . . may you eat my keyboard’s dust.  Happy shopping!