Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy (fill in the blank) Day, here's your Free Gift

Have I told you how incredibly powerful word of mouth advertising is?

When one of your customers tells a friend
about your product, this has a far greater impact than if the friend happened to stumble upon your website, blog, or shop or saw one of your ads somewhere.

Last year I received one of these Valentines from a friend and was tickled pink to find the coupon for a free doughnut in the valentine. Of course, I took it with me on my next trip up to Portland (the closest store to me is about 45 minutes away.) Since I rarely go to Portland alone, I had to buy doughnuts for everyone else in the car. And coffee. You can't truly enjoy a doughnut without coffee. My free coupon cost me almost $10 by the time I walked out of the shop. But I'm not complaining.

This year I saw the whole Krispy Kreme promo
and realized what a brilliant marketing campaign this is. I know this is something you could copy for your indie biz.

Basically, you're handing out coupons for your customers to give to their friends. The coupons just happen to be cleverly decorated as greeting cards that, when given away, make your customer look good.

It's a win-win-win for your customers, their friends, and of course you. Did you notice that I didn't just redeem the coupon but spent money there as well?

So... How could you make it work for your biz?

Glad you asked. I've got an idea.
(Of course.)

First, the basic mechanics of this marketing promotion is to decide what goal you want each person to achieve. Do you want people to buy, sign up for a mailing list, attend a class, or something else?

In this case, Krispy Kreme wants people to buy their doughnuts.

Second, what kind of free item or sample can you offer? Free items are perceived more as gifts; if you offer a discount, it's too sales-pitchy.

Krispy Kreme is giving away a free doughnut. While it's not a big $ value item, it has value because it's free. Heck, better than that, it's free food.

If you see on the promotion (above) you have to buy a dozen doughnuts in order to get the 12 "coupons" for a free doughnut. Basically it's a buy one, get one free. From an accounting standpoint, Krispy Kreme is offering doughnuts for up to 50% off in exchange for gaining new customers. There's a good probability that not every coupon issued will be reedeemed, either, so Krispy Kreme comes out ahead, anyway. Besides, I spent almost $10 of my own money there, and i'm sure I'm not the only one. Krispy Kreme came out way ahead.

By the way, if you're wondering if I analyze the mechanics of every advertisement I see, the answer is yes. Call me nuts, but I can't get enough of this stuff. The way I figure it, if I can translate that into understandable terms that you could pull off on your own for your biz, then I'm happy.

Third, what can you do to inspire your customers want to give away your coupons?
Krispy Kreme, of course, made Valentines.

While it's too late for you to do a Valentines Day promotion (bookmark this post for next December!) there are other holidays you could take advantage of: St. Patrick's Day, Easter, (people only send a small handful of Mothers' Day or Fathers' Day cards at the most,) Last Day of School (teacher gifts,) Independence Day, First Day of School (teacher gifts again - it's never too early to schmooze those good grades!) Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the mother of all card-sending holidays, Christmas.

But why stop at traditional holidays?
You could give away stickers (have you been to a skate shop, Zumiez, Pac Sun, or other teenager clothing store lately??) or pads of Post It Notes, general greeting cards, or a pack of birthday cards. You could do t-shirts, hats, and totebags, but the cost of those may be prohibitive if you're trying to keep your costs down.

Since cards are easy, though, let's explore that avenue.
Check back in on Wednesday to see how this Word of Mouth Gift Campaign works.

Did you like this post? How about subscribing in a reader
or by Email?

(And remember, all comments are do-follow, so your comment left here supports YOU.)


  1. I love this idea! And, I Love what you blog about :) Thank you for the re-inspiration!
    Vanessa Perez

  2. I invite you to visit my blog. you can find my last works of art at:

    yours Claudio Tomassini

  3. Hi Vanessa -
    I'm glad you like this idea. I got really excited about it the first time I saw it, too and couldn't wait to share it here.

    Have you figured out how you want to use this yet?


  4. Thanks for sharing your ideas and insight! I am excited to put this to use!

  5. Hi Pam! Mother's Day is approaching and I have an idea with this approach I wanted to run past you. Is there any way I can reach you through e-mail?


Thank you - I appreciate all comments, questions, praise, criticism, suggestions, requests, reports ...