Prize in the Cereal Box

The other day I received an advertisement in the mail from my auto insurance company for their auto club membership. The program seemed very similar to Triple A so I figured I should do further research. In comparing the two auto club programs, I found myself getting drawn back to the ad in the mail for some reason. It finally occurred to me that I couldn't stop thinking about the two free his and her watches that came if you ordered from the ad. I know, embarrassing. That said, it made me realize something I had forgotten. Consumers and clients like getting "stuff," and not just "stuff," but unexpected stuff. So now with the holidays coming up it would be a great time of year to start making it a habit to give your clients a little thank you gift every time they do business with you.

William Wrigley Jr. owned a company that specialized in selling soap and baking powder. In 1892, Mr. Wrigley decided to use the "cereal box prize" technique. He decided to package a piece of gum with every package of baking soda as a little bonus. Well, turns out that people ended up liking that little piece of gum way more than the product they were buying. You probably know the rest of the story; Wrigley's chewing gum was born. Now I'm certainly not telling you to turn your business into a gift shop, however, you cannot deny the power of the bonus prize. Remember when you were a kid and there were two boxes of cereal on the shelf side by side, even though you liked the one with no prize better, you picked the one with the prize because you couldn't wait to see what it was.

So what do you get your clients? Well, if you want to be a real superhero, do some research. If you happen to go to their house, look around. Are they wine drinkers? Are they big sports fans? A simple perusing of the area will give you plenty of ideas. On a side note, please refrain from looking in drawers and stalker like activities, this could be awkward. But I digress:) How about you ask a few questions and listen to some stories. One five minute conversation will not only build a great relationship with your client but you'll undoubtedly be given a great idea as to what to get them. P.S. feel free to use this in your relationships at home; same process and same smiling result. Another great shopping helper is how much money your client spent with you. If they only spent a few hundred, maybe they're looking at a Starbucks gift card in their future. If they spent a hundred thousand, then maybe an iPad is in order. Either way, something is better than nothing.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this isn't simply a way to say thank you. This is a proven marketing tactic. This is a method of retaining clients, getting new clients, and more importantly getting repeat business. Similar to the cereal box prize, the real secret to this method of getting repeat business is not as much about the gift, and more about the consistency. While the auto club watches were a one time offer, the cereal prize, which was probably worth pennies, always came. It is for that reason that we always bought the cereal. Don't be a one time offer. Make thoughtful thank you gifts a habit and your clients won't ever think about using anyone else.