Thursday, February 25, 2010

Setting yourself apart - creating memory hooks

Here is a just a quick post to share a personal story and a marketing lesson. Yesterday was my birthday. For the last ten years, I have given every employee at Arizona Cap a paid day off on their birthday. I, however, have managed to work everyone of my own birthdays. This year my dear, sweet (and sneaky) wife convinced a good friend to invite me to go skiing for my birthday. I have never skied before, but it sounded like fun and I always wanted to learn. So, about 9Am, I left the office. While I was gone, my dear, sweet (and sneaky) wife remodeled my entire office - new desks, built-in bookcases, blinds, plants, the works. It looks great, and it is much more functional - I love it. The only problem is that several of the computers, printers, and other office equipment got moved to slightly new locations. Now, the cords don't quite reach where they need to for keyboards and monitors, etc. No problem! I have a great vendor I use for all of our networking cable needs, and they sell the full variety of other computer cables, as well. Best of all, they are about a 1/10th (yes I mean 1/10th) the price of Best Buy or Office Max.

The problem is, as happy as I have always been with them - and I have used them 4 or 5 times in the last few years - I just couldn't remember their name. I could Google computer cables and get ten thousand results, but I would never find the guys I wanted. While I couldn't remember their name, I did remember something special about them. Every time I received an order from them, there was a package of Skittles candies in the box. It didn't matter whether I ordered hundreds of dollars of cables or a single 75 cent connector, they always put a bag of Skittles in the box. The second time I received an order from them with the Skittles in the box, I realized the first bag was not just a fluke or a one time gesture; it was part of their marketing. I once received a wrong item, and they had to ship a single piece out to replace it. It came with a bag of Skittles. I realized that sometimes the bag of Skittles cost more than their entire profit for a tiny order, but they always sent it anyways. I was impressed at their consistency, and I admire their ability to give me a warm fuzzy feeling about them for just 50 cents.

But, yesterday, I realized that all those packages of Skittles didn't just create good will (and make my kids happy) but they had, for just a few dollars, created a permanent memory hook. I Googled "cables free skittles," and the first two listings were consumer reviews and ratings for - my long lost cable selling friends. Not only did the Skittles make an impression on me, but they were such a great memory hook that other clients mentioned it in their reviews.

At Arizona Cap, we don't sell Skittles to toss into your boxes or hand out with your receipts (I'd recommend Costco or Sam's Club for that). But, what if DeepSurplus had given me a a really unique looking or super-smooth writing imprinted pen (the kind you'd want to keep). Not only would I have remembered them, but I could have looked at the pen (good durable advertising doesn't get thrown in the trash after your kids eat it) and had the web address instantly.

The lesson of the story is that all of your shipments - or if you don't ship a product, all of your customer, donor, or client contacts - should incorporate a memory hook. Durable advertising products are ideal, but even more important is how you use them. was consistent. They didn't just sometimes send a bag of Skittles, or just send one with orders over a certain amount, and they didn't sometimes send me a Snickers bar. Their consistent and unique marketing created a memory hook that I will never forget and guaranteed them a customer for life. It also got them a free plug here on our blog and in our newsletter.