July 25, 2012

A Priceless Marketing Lesson From My 18-month-old Niece

By Patrick Mahan

Marketing gimmicks don't have to be expensive to work. Take this for example...

Yesterday, we took our 18-month-old niece to Firehouse Subs for lunch. She ordered a kids' meal, which was served inside a plastic firefighter hat. Pretty simple. Pretty obvious. But pretty smart.

Why? Because that plastic hat—which only costs about 25 cents to produce—is still hanging out in my garage. And even after we throw the hat away, the picture we took of my niece wearing the hat will last forever.

What's the marketing lesson here? Two things...
  1. Give your guests/customers/clients a "takeaway"—something that will trigger them to think about you later when you're not around.

  2. You don't have to spend a fortune. While so many companies are ineffectively spending millions of dollars on mass media (television, radio, print ads), Firehouse hit a home run with a 25-cent plastic hat.
Now it's your turn ... What "takeaway" can you give your customers? A souvenir, a token, a gift, a prize—something that they will stumble across a week from now, or a year from now, and cause them to think about you.

BONUS TIP: If you want to get even more mileage out of this idea, make your takeaway "photogenic". That is, something that people are likely to take a picture of and share with their social networks. In this case, we took a picture of our niece wearing the Firehouse Subs hat and posted it on Facebook. And now, lots of people have seen that little red hat... not a bad return on a 25-cent investment!

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