Marketing Tips Part 1

March 20, 2003

By: Matt Michel

I'm in the market for a new car. I was discussing it with a friend recently, who had just bought a new Lexus.

"You gotta go to Park Place Lexus," he said.

I listened, expecting him to extol the virtues of their service, the integrity of their sales force, the simplicity of doing business with them, and/or the stupendous deals. I was surprised. He didn't mention any of the above.

"Park Place isn't that far away from you," he coaxed.

No they aren't *that* far. But given Dallas traffic, they aren't *that* far in the same way that the Oklahoma state line isn't *that* far. And they aren't *that* much closer to where my friend lives and works.

"They've got this really sweet program," he gushed, "Whenever you're near them, just drop by and they'll wash your car for free! They'll do it as often as you want!"

Okay. Let me get this straight. This guy just bought a $35,000 on-road SUV and he's gushing about a free car wash? The same thing I can get for two bucks from the neighborhood Texaco when I fill up with gas?

Yup. He was. He was so enthusiastic; I was thinking to myself that this was a pretty good deal. Then my engineer thinking kicked in and I realized that for me (and my friend), I'd spend three or four dollars in gas, not to mention the value of my time to drive over there and get a two dollar car wash.

I remembered a hardware store in Camarillo, California that had a postal window in the store. They gave out coupons for a free first class stamp and others for a free light bulb. Otherwise rational people would drive ten miles out of their way to save thirty cents. And I'll bet they were enthusiastic about it too.

Of course, I frequent a dry cleaner that gives customers a free Coke. I like the idea of a free Coke, and then usually feel guilty about taking one. They get the benefit without even paying the price.

Everyone likes getting something for nothing. Hotels have figured this out and give you a copy of the newspaper. The better ones have free copies of the Wall Street Journal. I know people that pick hotels based on the newspapers they give away.

Service companies can do the same thing. Electricians can leave homeowners with a couple of 75-watt light bulbs after a call. Air conditioning contractors can leave a disposable filter. An on-site furniture restoration company can leave a small bottle of lemon oil. A cleaning company can leave a small bottle of all purpose cleaner.

Sometimes it's not the big things that win customers. It's the little things. What can you give away?

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2002 Matt Michel

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