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Newsletter #785: The “Funky Ways to Pay the Bills” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Too often, billing is unnecessarily boring. It doesn’t have to be, and to prove it, a few examples of clever ways to ring up the tab:

1> In bonds
2> In tickets
3> In donations
4> Check it out: Fiverr

1> In bonds

If you’re looking to raise money, you’ve got other options beyond banks and IPOs. When high-end British chocolate retailer Hotel Chocolat was looking to expand, they sold bonds to their customers — bonds that paid out in chocolate. Each month, their “investors” receive Tasting Boxes of their best chocolate. And in three years, customers can then either opt to continue receiving their monthly boxes or redeem their bonds for a full return of their investment.

The lesson: You don’t always have to turn to outside lenders for capital. With a little creativity, you can get your biggest fans involved in a long-term investment relationship that benefits everyone.

Learn more: Springwise

2> In tickets

At most restaurants, you’re billed based on what you order. It’s how everyone does it, so most marketers forget it’s an opportunity to be different. But at superstar chef Grant Achatz’s new Chicago restaurant, he’s creating something of an event for diners — and so instead of traditional reservations, customers buy tickets in advance, in full, like they would for a concert or sporting event. It’s a subtle shift that changes the customers’ expectations from the get-go. Before even entering the restaurant, they know this isn’t going to be just another dinner.

The lesson: The less you do like everyone else, the more remarkable you are.

Learn more: Fast Company

3> In donations

People are naturally good and when asked politely, are often happy to help. Panera’s latest restaurant experiment is working to prove this: They’re asking customers to pay what they can afford. Their new nonprofit restaurant in St. Louis kindly preaches, “Take what you need, leave your fair share.” Their cashiers provide receipts that include suggested donations based on what customers have ordered and then direct them to donation boxes throughout the restaurant. And for those who can’t pay, they’re invited to volunteer their time. While still early in the experiment, the location’s revenues were up 20 percent on opening day.

The lesson: If you give your customers the chance to show their altruistic side, they’re likely to thank you with surprising generosity.

Learn more: St. Louis Business Journal

4> Check it out: Fiverr

Just when you thought five dollars couldn’t buy anything anymore, Fiverr shows up and brings us a whole community of people willing to do all sorts of tasks for five bucks. Train your dog, get a new logo, hire someone to listen to your life story — all for five bucks.

Check it out: Fiverr

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