Just Give It Away!

Free Food February - Chick-fil-A. No purchase necessary, one free item per person each Wednesday in February between 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.


What do office supplies and chicken sandwiches have in common?

I went shopping for office supplies recently at a superstore that’s moving down the street from their current location, directly across the street from their biggest competitor, our other local office superstore. They had a lot of their inventory on clearance, trying not to have to box and move quite so many of the little items. I walked out with over $150 worth of supplies for $11, and remarked to a friend that I felt like I’d stolen the stuff. They might as well have given the loot away.

Ever since then I’ve been mulling that over—what an event it could have been if they had simply given away their 90–95% off clearance items. A “help us move” party, perhaps. Give away coupons for this weekend’s grand opening. Make folks feel a part of the move, and make them feel a bit obligated to check out the new digs because they’re indebted.

They could have generated a lot of buzz for the move and a lot of goodwill, but instead the whole thing took place so quietly that plenty of folks don’t know this enormous store is moving.

Free Food February

Still mulling it over, I went for a chicken sandwich yesterday at a fast food joint here in north Delaware. The flyer you see above was tucked into my bag with a smile and a “Don’t forget to come back Wednesdays!” from the friendly cashier.  Go ahead and read the fine print (click to enlarge), I’ll wait.

No restrictions. I don’t even have to bring the flyer back in. Just show up on Wednesdays, eat free food. I asked a friend who goes there regularly, and she said yes, she was there this week, and the line was out the door.

The truth is I probably won’t think to go. But they’ve just gotten an enormous bump in how I perceive them.

Pricing, discounting, what to do in a recession, oh my!

We’ve talked about it here before. An awesome promotion is designed entirely from the customer’s perspective, for convenience and delight. Now the idea is spreading. (Harvey’s, eat your heart out! Chick-fil-A has outdone you!)

Discounting says weakness and desperation. Free says joy, generosity, and position of strength.

Discounting creates price-sensitive customers. (Yes, you create them yourself!)

Free creates word-of-mouth marketing. Buzz. Satisfied, astonished, repeat customers, from prospects and fence-sitters.

Which one should you be doing?

Check today’s title again.

You want to be around for the long haul. Build the Perception that your company shares its good fortune; that you’re thinking of your customers and their wallets, not only your own; that you’re even a little wild and edgy.

Give it away!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson