Selling candy bars via a joint venture

The other day, an organization here in town started selling candy bars to raise money to pay for coaches and supplies for a summer sports league. Late in the summer, they have a home meet where hundreds of families come to town to compete – where they stay for the better part of 3 days and spend their money.

The candy bars are $1. I’m sure you’ve all seen them, they’re the “World’s Finest” fundraising brand.

I bought one and noticed that they have a Pizza Hut coupon on them. For $2.

Yep, you got it, there’s a net gain of $1 if you happen to like the kind of pizza that the coupon is good for (the expensive ones with lots of stuff on them).

I suggested to the board of the organization that they sit down with the manager of the Pizza Hut and make some sort of joint venture offer.

Something like this, noting that the candy bars have a $2 coupon on them:

  • If someone calls and orders a pizza that qualifies, offer the candy bar to them for an extra $1, advising them that the bar includes a coupon for $2, meaning they get a discount and a free candy bar out of the deal.
  • Put a sign on the drive through, the letter board out front and on the drive up window that explains the deal – might even go so far as to tell them that Pizza Hut will pay them a buck to take a candy bar and support a local team.
  • Make sure the register people are trained (and reminded) to do the upsell. Make a contest out of it.
  • Talk the local banks into putting the promotion on their sign boards – supporting the team.

I almost forgot: At the meet, the team sells food and meet programs.

They could do any combination of these as thanks for the joint venture:

  • Give Pizza Hut a full page ad in the program, and thank them for their help in the ad (or a separate one)
  • Sell Personal Pan Pizzas at the meet (the hut is right down the street from the meet location)
  • Give personal pan coupons (buy any pizza, get a personal pan free – remember, picky eaters might be on the teams) away, include them in the program, or offer them as prizes for kids who win events. Feed the kids free, get the parents in the door and sell them a $20 pizza and a pitcher…

Or, you could have kids running around door to door, taking HOURS of time.

You might think that Pizza Hut is going to have to eat a lot of discounts. Thing is, these types of coupons are typically reimbursed by the corporate office. The local store isn’t likely to be hurt a bit – in fact, they may see some increased sales due to the coupon being for the higher end pizzas.

The Pizza Hut thing is far more viral and meets the benefit of the bar purchase head on. Wonder if the other pizza stores (or any restaurants) in town would jump in and honor the coupons as a show of support for the team?

Cant hurt to ask…

Marketing Wal-Mart

Hamilton and Walmart – Back on the rails

Sorry folks, been inundated with business this month and unfortunately, the blog has suffered as a result. I’m back in the saddle, so lets get back at helping Hamilton get it together before opening day.

Not long ago, I added a step or 2 to the Hamilton retailers vs Walmart preparation effort. Lets get this down to a cookbook so anyone can follow it – including me:)


  • Your roughed-out USP
  • 1 large pile of index cards
  • Something to write with.

So far, we’ve talked about your USP, then we covered a few ways to get started figuring out what your USP is. Don’t feel bad if you havent gotten this nailed down yet. The next couple of steps will help you fine tune it.

As I noted in the original list, lets walk around your store. Think hard about everything you carry and why. Write em down. Dont pretend you can memorize everything, WRITE IT DOWN. We used this trick in the USP workshop, so lets use it again here. 1 product or service per index card (no, I don’t have stock in the index card industry). If you’re really stubborn, you can use a yellow pad, but I think you’ll regret it eventually.
We’re doing this for a number of reasons. We need a list and we need it on a media that allows for brainstorming (the cards). Each card can become your little niche market analysis, ready to study after you get back from the Missoula WalMart SuperCenter research trip.

Drive to Missoula and visit the SuperCenter there. It might even be worth visiting both stores. DONT take the yellow pad or index cards into the store. Find the products in the SuperCenter that Bentonville is going to give you a pounding on. Hint: Theyâ??re the ones with the retail price tags less than your wholesale cost, for starters. Make a mental note (mental notes keep you from getting booted out of the store for taking product notes). If you have to go back and forth to the car 20 times to update your notes, do it and get over it. Youll never remember all the details.

Drive back to Hamilton. Use the time to think about the products that you offer that compete directly with them. And be proud of yourself for not letting Walmart happen to you, but instead taking control of the situation. Im not kidding.

Sit down and go over each card. Toss your emotion out the door. I’m sorry, I don’t think too many people are going to care if your family has sold light bulbs for the last 100 years. WMT is going to toast you in that department. As you do this, keep your notes from the Miles City meetings close by. Learn from their mistakes, their successes and what is actually going on there.

That emotion thing is huge. You have got to get the mental blocks out of your head and stomp them. Your thought process has to be all business. Remember, WMT is coming in all business. They don’t care that you’ve sold light bulbs, inexpensive bikes, camping gear, beef jerky, Kudo bars, and toilet paper for 100 years. They have as much right to the market as you – this exercise is what allows you to create an apples to oranges comparison that they CANT win. Dont get me wrong. You aren’t going to put them out of business, and if you work smart – you aren’t going to let them do the same to you.

At the same time, the emotion of the customers in your line of business is critical. Price shoppers arent typically loyal customers. They shop price and little else. You want higher end, rabid customers who could easily sell the products in your store – because they are really into them.

How does this apply to Hamilton v. WalMart? Remember, just because your business has sold inexpensive bikes for 100 years doesnt mean you have to get out of the bike business. WalMart doesn’t carry $900 bikes. You can – and still do what you love doing – just a little differently (and better).

Next time, we start hammering away at the products and services cards you put together on your trip to the Missoula SuperCenter. We’re going to find your $900 bike.

Corporate America Good Examples Marketing

Amazing customer experiences – is your business giving them?

Every February, an old friend comes to mind. Before I get ahead of myself, lets go back in time a bit.

When my wife was carrying our 2nd boy, back in Feb 1992, we went on a cruise along the Mexican Riviera (the same cities that “The Love Boat” went to).

If you havent been on a cruise, an important tidbit is this: Typically (at least when we went) you sit at the same table with the same group every night at dinner, you become good friends and your waiter is the same person every meal. As such, you get to know the waiter and about his family and such.

Ours was an Filipino man, probably in his late 30s at the time. Because he was on the cruise ship during season, he was away from his family for 5-6 months at a time. It became clear during our cruise that this pained him greatly, but he knew that his work on the ship would provide for his family for the entire year.

When he found out that my wife was pregnant, he turned up the service several notches. There wasnt anything he wouldnt find, do, change, or whatever for her. He funneled the feelings he had for his family into the service we received that week. It was a fabulous week and his service was a substantial part of it. Maybe the service on all cruise lines is like his, regardless we’ll be looking hard at a Carnival the next time we go – simply because they did such a great job of finding him. A guy perfect for the job, even though he saw different faces and did the same job every day, day in – day out, for 6 solid months.

Turn the calendar forward about 5 years. I’ve taken the family to Florida for the standard tourist bill of fare when you have 2 young kids (Disney, etc) and we’ve been lucky. It just so happens that a Space Shuttle launch is on the launch pad and they are dodging clouds and such as usual. An insider tip was given to us that the cruise lines dock near Ft Lauderdale is a great place to see the launches, so off we go.

There are several ships at the dock, and lots of crew members are milling around as we join dozens of cars and people on the side of the road.

A short, olive-skinned man in a waiter’s smock walks up to us and says hello. He remembers my wife and asks about the kids. Finally it hits us, its our waiter friend from the cruise. 5 years later, he has remembered us from sight and rather than ignoring us, he’s come over to say hi and such. We’re both floored that he remembers us. While we wait, we talk about the kids, his kids, how his wife is, etc. He still works for Carnival. At the time, I could remember his name, unfortunately I cant remember it today (raising teenagers can do that to a guy, I guess).

Our Filipino friend has just created a lifetime memory for his company, as well for himself. He also has performed a marketing task that his corporate marketing group couldnt possibly have pulled off.

Dont you want to go on a cruise and have this guy be the one who takes care of you all week? Sure you do.

Now the tough question: Are your people doing that? Do they understand that their actions, service, demeanor and everything they do is a form of marketing? How long will you wait to share that with them? How often will you put things in place to help them do that and help them remember to do that?

Get moving.


Valentine’s Day marketing isn’t for me, it has nothing to do with my business.

3 weeks left…and I’ll bet some of you are thinking “Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with my business”.

So what? Who says the jewelry stores and florists get to have all the fun???

Here are some examples of thinking that results in a strategic marketing use of Valentine’s Day.

If you are an attorney, offer a counseling evening of some kind for couples who are worried that they are heading for divorce. DONT try to sell them something. Send non-romantic valentines to your clients, wishing them well.

Pet stores: Pets deserve valentines too. Send them cards. Give them red bows after grooming. Groom 1 dog, get the 2nd for $x, ie: Bring a Date (doggy date) to the groomer, do doggie makeovers for Valentine’s Day, and so on. Many people love their pets like a child. Create special experiences for the pet owner and their critters. Limo pickup for that special pooch who is on their way to get a deluxe grooming? Think how you CAN use what others do, not how you cant.

If you are an accountant, its tax season, so you may just want to hide:) However, “the love of money” is a theme that is hard to ignore. If you need more tax clients, its a theme you could easily use to attract those who want to break up the romance between the IRS and their bank account.

If you sell cars, don’t forget that people have a love affair with their cars. “Treat that special someone to a detail job for Valentine’s Day”, for example. Send their CAR a Valentine, and include an offer inside the card, of course. Offer a special service or bonus (not a discount) to anyone who brings a red car in for service (or a pink car).

If you own an oil change place, give red carnations to ladies who get their oil changed, send your female customers a valentine (with an offer…), send valentines to the cars of your clients, change the oil in red cars at no charge on Feb 14 if they buy your prepaid oil change card, and so on.

If you own a movie rental store, offer a free bag of microwave popcorn to share with any rental of a “date movie”, romantic movie or similar.

Home stores – have a special spa night where you open the store and fire up the hot tubs, complete with tuxedo’d wait staff and the works. Offer free installation or delivery specials to anyone who attends the event. Its about romance, remember?

Department and Clothing stores – Romance, romance, romance. What about a makeover? Do a “What not to wear on Valentine’s Day” for one lucky winner who has pre-registered for a Lancome skin analysis in our makeup department.

If you own a bookstore, offer a romance novel special, have a special reading, plaster the place with red, give a red carnation with any book purchase, dress up like your favorite romantic character, etc.

Use the number 14 in your specials and offers.

Have your staff wear red for the next 3 weeks, or a red button.

Valentine’s Day is about love. How can you express your love for your customers? “We love our customers so much, that we’ve arranged for a …..”

Look at the great romances over time and use them for special events. “Your Romeo and Juliet evening at Sarducci’s Italian starts with a limo arriving at your door to whisk you away on a romantic journey that includes ….”  You could have Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton look alikes, or stand up cardboard figures, or have a dress like your favorite romantic couple night at your hotel or restaurant.

Singles are another untapped market. Restaurants can open their banquet room for a singles night. Gotta be single, no baggage, just come in, mingle, have a great meal. Turn it into a movie night where no romance movies are shown.

Dont just do it, remember to PUBLICIZE what you’re doing.


Got your Super Bowl marketing going yet?

I know, I know. Your business has nothing to do with football. Who cares. Take advantage of the buzz. If you are inventive enough, you can get some free PR out of the deal. Be innovative.

If you own a coffee shop, why not get some Bears and Colts stickers and put up a board on the wall. Give away a sticker with each cup of coffee and let people choose the one that they think will win. Have your staff wear Bear or Colt jerseys. Plaster the place in team colors. Paint a staffer’s face or hair Bear blue one day and Colt blue the next. Offer a blue coffee (tea might be easier…) Have the Fridge come do an appearance and be sure to get video and photos of his visit. Its not as expensive to get someone like that as you might think, but you can bet the local media will be all over it.

If you own a pizza shop, you should have a Bear Pie (like McSalty’s in Springfield MO) and a Colt pie, or some other themed pies that people can only get between now and Super Bowl Sunday. Rename your products, or at least your specials, for the next two weeks. IE: A lineman special (large, meat lovers). Same deal with the Fridge as above. Make your pizza sizes change from small, medium or large to safety, linebacker and lineman. These same strategies will work for any restaurant.

If you own a travel agency, why not spotlight the fun packages you have to visit Baltimore (remember, the Colts USED to be there), Indianapolis and Chicago? Include tickets to a home game in the 2007-2008 season.

If you own a car dealership, offer a special deal on blue cars. Maybe free oil changes, or a 100 point inspection, or a detail job, and so on.

If you own a paint store, offer a special on blue paint.

If you own a butcher shop, bear and horsemeat are a little off the beaten path, but you can still use the coffee and pizza shop strategies. You could import some special Chicago pastrami for the next 2 weeks, or give some away to anyone who buys $X during that time.

Have a look alike contest. Anyone who looks like a Bear or Colt player, past or present, gets a free dessert, or some service add-on that costs you little, but makes the person feel appreciated because they received a little treat.

While retailers have an easier time of this, professionals and service providers can also take advantage of it using the same kind of techniques and strategies Ive described above.

Bottom line – make the next 2 weeks special, er I mean Super. Dont be a bore.

Customer service Management Marketing Positioning Small Business Uncategorized

Do it FOR me.

I wonder how many of you have the proper tools and expertise to install a free-standing wood or gas stove, or a gas range/oven for the kitchen?

Despite the ever-increasing demands on people’s time, I STILL come across vendors who just don’t get the full-service concept and why it makes them more money than the lazy “Ill carry it out to your car….IF you ask me.” model.

Example: One of the local home stores, who of course doesn’t have a web site (DUH) has this completely wrong. They have a great selection of wood stoves, pellet stoves and gas/propane stoves (in this case, I mean freestanding fireplace types, not kitchen stoves).
If you go into this store and attempt to purchase a stove (and we’re talking about a $1000-2500 purchase), they will help you…. carry it to your vehicle. That’s it. They don’t install. They don’t remove the old one. Put yourself in the place of any one of the following people: busy executive, 2 job couple who value their limited weekend time, single mom, young married couple, tool-challenged guy, older couple, and similar.

We’re talking about people who don’t have some combination of the time, the vehicle, the expertise and the strength to load the new stove, carry it home, put it in the home, remove the old stove, install the new stove, hook up the gas (if necessary), cut an exhaust hole and install the chimney/stove pipe/exhaust, carry the old stove out to the vehicle (if necessary), and take the old stove to the dump (if necessary).

What in the world is going through your mind when you sell $1000-2500 items like a 6 pack of beer? Here’s why this is such a big mistake: If you DONT do these things, and someone else does, that someone else is going to get a lot of people’s business because there is a substantial number of folks out there who simply dont have the time, vehicle, strength, expertise or DESIRE to do all those install tasks.

Back to the example store…the in-store people are very experienced. They are experts in their topic, yet they are hamstrung by inane management policy.

Down the street from this store, there’s a full service store (more than 1, in fact). For an extra hundred bucks, they’ll bring the stove to your home, remove the old stove and take it to the dump (if necessary), install the new stove and, if needed, hook up the gas, install an exhaust port, stove pipe and/or chimney as necessary. Note that if a gas fireplace or free standing stove is involved, a certified plumber has to hook up the gas in many states.

Naturally, the full service stores also provide warranty and repair service for the stoves. Now, if you do this right, its an income stream, but unfortunately, no one does.

When I say right, I mean the stove store creates a subscription program. WHAT??? You cant do that, only magazines and newspapers have subscriptions!!! (sorry, that was your brother in law telling you that you cant do that, lets move on). How does the subscription program work?

How about this: During the winter (stove use) months, you offer to check on the stove at least once in the middle of the season, plus a beginning of season and end of season check. 3 visits, say $99 per year (you figure out what price makes sense for you). Remember, the best time to sell is when you’ve just sold someone something.
For that $99, you stop in 3 times. You check the function of the stove, spend $15 worth of time cleaning the stove pipe (more if its a chimney, since you have to climb up on the roof – but this is far less common in free-standing stoves), vacuum out the junk in the stove, make sure everything is safe, and make an appointment for the next visit (which is already paid for via the $99 annual fee). Before you leave, you give them a little gift, a refrigerator magnet with your smiling face (no one does this) and your phone # for service emergencies, or a little cheapo mini-broom, or a bottle of juice to clean the glass on the stove, just dont be boring about it.
You sell this as an upsell during the purchase. Some folks will bite, some wont – but if you are a full service store, you already have the staff so you may as well accept the cash flow. Here’s the secret that many people miss: Because you are there 3 times a year (or whatever) to check, adjust, clean and do any quick repairs – you are their “official stove repair shop”. Who do you think will be called when they need repairs, build a new home and need help with a stove, have a friend who needs a referral for a stove, and so on? YOU, because you are the one visiting their home 3 times a year to take care of their stove and keep it functional and safe.

We recently had the SAME type of experience when replacing a gas kitchen stove/oven. One store (Sears, you know that place “where America shops”) was the put-it-in-your-car-and-wave store. No install service, no nothing. Nowadays, most gas stoves are dual-fuel, meaning the range is gas and the oven is electric. So not only do you need plumbing skills to hook up natural gas or propane (and know the difference at install time – there’s a very important difference you MUST know) AND you must have electrician skills because of the dual fuel aspect. You may even have to install a new plug for higher voltage.

The other store, Burton’s Brand Source (a local retailer,, offers full service and even managed to let us talk them down over $400 on the stove + included installation and removal of the old stove. At no extra charge (yeah, its in the profit).

Which is more attractive? The curb drop off, or the full service install? Which store got my business? The latter, of course.

Which store are you? The latter or lamer?

UPDATE (March 4, 2008): Remember that store that doesn’t offer installation? They’ve now gone out of business. They’ll blame Home Depot, or the economy (oh my, it’s a recession!!), or anyone but themselves, but you know the real reason.


Denny Rehberg needs a marketing consultant. Hint: 866-997-7634.

No, Im not kidding.

Note that I really dont have any strong feelings about Mr Rehberg one way or the other. These guys could use a serious lesson in communications, or marketing or customer relationship management, however. Its no wonder we’re all so grumpy with DC out here in tv land. They act as if we’re a bother, but even worse, they SHOW that they feel that way. Get a clue. We know you’re going to think whatever you want, but for goodness sake, NEVER explicitly tell us that we’re like those annoying black flies.

What’s this all about? Well, today I received an email from Denny Rehberg. Yeah, I know the reply came from one of his minimum wage staffers, but hey it says its from Denny:)

I vaguely recall emailing Denny from his House web site’s contact form. I dont remember when it was, so that ought to tell you that its been a) more than 10 days, b) more than 10 months, c) somewhere in between. I really dont recall. Google desktop has a copy of Rehberg’s contact form in its cache from Feb 22, 2006. Hey, I feel really special. I got an anonymous reply supposedly from my highly-paid House representative and it took just a hair less than SEVEN months.

Im sure Denny gets several (dozen? hundreds? thousands?) emails, faxes and letters a day. Sorry, but I dont feel at all sorry for you guys. Remember, you ASKED to go to DC, ASKED to represent me and 900,000+ of my closest friends. No crying towel cuz of the huge volume of constituent contact you have to put up with. Maybe next time I’ll include a check with my letter so it’ll get read faster.

Yep, Im cynical, but realistic too.
Ok, back to the real reason that I brought this up. Marketing. Customer relationship management.



Ben Brady, in one of his classic rants, was in rare form yesterday:

“It just goes to show you that you can take the company out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the company.”

You don’t need 1000 words to see the picture in this customer’s mind.

What picture are you drawing in the minds of YOUR customer?