This morning, my inbox was full of inviting offers: everything from rock-bottom prices for Pfizer's
It all started about 12 hours ago, when I stumbled across a pop-up ad that directed me to a site offering $50 gift cards to a variety of restaurants. Like most people (at least those who don't have some type of pop-up blocker installed), I typically spend the majority of my time deleting these annoyances the instant they appear on my screen, but something about this one intrigued me. Receive a $50 gift card to restaurants such as Applebee's
Instantly, I was hit with a barrage of about 25 yes-or-no survey questions:
- Would you be interested in cutting your student loan payments by up to 58%?
- Would you be interested in an eight-day, seven-night getaway to Florida's Universal Studios?
- Would you be interested in a free Nokia 6010 wireless phone?
- Would you be interested in lowering your adjustable-rate mortgage?
Within a few minutes, I had clicked "no" in response to each of these tempting queries, and the first round was over. That left only the completion (meaning get out your credit card) of one offer from a broad array of choices, and my gift card was in the mail.
The final requirement did actually involve some degree of commitment, such as a trial membership for BMG Music Service (think 12 CDs for the price of one), a switch to AOL for broadband, or a new registry at eBay. The two that caught my attention, however, were competing offers from Blockbuster and rival Netflix
By now, most know the story of online video membership: unlimited rentals for one low monthly fee, access to 25,000 titles, free shipping both ways, no late fees ever. With benefits such as those, it comes as no surprise that pioneer Netflix quickly signed up more than 2 million subscribers, prompting Blockbuster and Wal-Mart
For me, at least without further time to research, there seemed to be little to distinguish among the services, by price, selection, viewer feedback, or other criteria. However, the scales were tipped in Blockbuster's favor by the addition of two monthly coupons for free in-store rentals. Before I knew what hit me, I had three movies in my queue.
So here I am, the late-adopter, the slacker, the movie lover doomed to continually pay late fees -- now, finally, the newest member of the online video rental world. There are millions of others out there like me: interested, but not sufficiently motivated to act. With market penetration rates slowing, the challenge lies in finding innovative ways to identify and reach those people. For at least one new customer, though, mission accomplished.
Here's three more movie rental articles for your reading queue:
Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter plans to plow through his favorite genre, '80s comedies, as fast as Blockbuster can ship them. He owns none of the companies mentioned.