You know it’s just too perfect when those shoes you were looking at a few minutes ago appear in a Facebook ad for a slightly better price than you saw them for.
Increasingly, companies are using big data to “remarket” to you (meaning, show you an ad from a website you were previously on), use deal sites that show you the amazing price you see is going to expire soon, and other tactics to make you feel like you need to buy… and now.
Here are some ways you can outsmart these marketing tactics.
Read Reviews… and not just on the company website.
One way to talk yourself out of the purchase is to see the potential cons of making it. Reviews from people who have purchased the item are a good way to do that.
It’s true that companies can buy positive reviews easily enough so 1,000 five star reviews that just say ‘Great product!’ are not enough. Look for signs of a “verified purchase” and use third party websites like Amazon to see a full spectrum of reviews. Seeing a company has three stars because they started with five and the last three months have consistently had bad customer service or multiple people are complaining about the same dysfunctional part of the product will help you get to the bottom of a claim.
Use price tracking.
All industries have a pricing cycle and prices go up and down periodically. If you buy things often (ex: grocery store items), you have a good idea of what is a good price and what isn’t but how about less frequent purchases you make?
Price tracking websites (like these five from Lifehacker) allow you to track the price of everything from television sets to airline tickets, letting you time your purchase. If the price isn’t right, save it in your wishlist and look back at another time. Remember, “not now” doesn’t “mean not ever”!
Join the company’s email list.
Most deals go through company email lists in addition to ad spends. You can set up an email address just to get these flyers or a service like Unroll.me to get them bundled together and not clogging your inbox. If you have a company you like to buy from, get on their email list and you’ll typically get a 10% off coupon (or something like it) just for enrolling in addition to other deals you may discover.
Install an ad blocker.
If you can’t stand temptation at all, consider limiting your time on social media (probably not a bad idea anyway) or install an ad blocker on your computer. Most ad blockers operate within a particular web browser, like AdBlock in Google Chrome. (Remember, if you want to block this on your phone too, you’ll have to install an app there as well). Most ad blocking software allows you to turn it on and off, or make exceptions for specific pages, meaning you have control over what you do (and don’t) see.
Borrow or rent instead.
Something we’ve lost as a culture is the art of borrowing. You could own a four foot chocolate fountain… or you can rent one for your party! You could buy a bundt cake pan to make that cake for your friend or you could ask your nearby Facebook friends if they have one you can borrow. (I did this and it led to an interesting and pleasant conversation with a neighbor I didn’t know very well!) If the item you are tempted by in an ad is not something you’ll use often, think about where you could use one temporarily should the need arise. You might be surprised.
The more aware we are of marketing, the better we can make sure all our purchases are useful and intentional, not just things that clutter up our homes or empty our bank accounts.