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Give it away before you throw it away

imageThere’s a restaurant in Chicago called Ann Sather. They are famous for their cinnamon buns, which are served as an appetizer with every meal. (Which is awesome — starting dinner with a 500-calorie dessert.)

If you show up at the end of the day, they’ll give you boxes of the buns for free.

Every one they don’t sell at the end of the day is useless to them. But when they give it away, it turns into a word of mouth marketing tool. Everyone who gets a freebie will be telling anyone they see about how generous the staff at Ann Sather is.

Lesson: Every spoiling asset is a marketing tool.

More examples:

  • Unused hotel rooms: Use every empty suite for an upgrade or give empty rooms to families with kids
  • Car rentals: Reward someone with an unused upgrade
  • Closeouts: Give an extra item to shoppers
  • Samples: Donate them to schools and charities
  • Employees: Ask underutilized staff to volunteer
  • Tickets: Fill every unsold seat with a potential word of mouth advocate

Give it away before you throw it away. It’s worth a dozen referrals.

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  1. Russ Jones October 4, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    You have to be careful with free though…

    1. Giving away tickets to a concert can make those who paid feel jilted (unless you upgrade all paid and then give the remaining away)

    2. Giving away free can eat into inconsistent customer bases. If I only crave cinnamon buns occassionally, I may find the free one I just got more than enough.

    Like most marketing techniques, tracking is the key. In analytics there is truth.

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