An ideal marketing situation: each product or brand commands its own niche market. Consumers would buy products for the same benefits that marketers push. In turn, companies would spend every last cent on making their product the very best they possible could. Each and every last thing on the shelf would be nothing short of remarkable.
The truth is that we are far from an environment where consumers buy XYZ product because it is just the best damned product out there. As days, months, years go by, more and more products look alike and perform the exact same way. Unfortunately for both companies and marketers, making a product remarkable is harder, and more expensive, than ever.
So what do we do in situations like this? With more choices than ever haunting our consumers, not every product can be the best or the cheapest option. Marketers have to create a way to get consumers to act, and ultimately to talk, about their products. That is where the “free prize” comes in.
A little extra pizzaz.
Seth Godin (god of all things amazing) wrote about this idea years and years ago. He describes a “free prize” is an attribute associated with a product that gives it a little something extra: a bonus if you will. It could be buying an iPod instead of any ol’ MP3 player, simply becuase of the sleek aesthetic or seamless functionality. It could be buying dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets instead of regular ones, simply becuase they are more fun to eat. What about buying that $10 box of cereal for your kids, just because there is a toy inside? Consumers gladly buy products if there some added value that comes along with, even if that added value doesn’t benefit the functionality or performance of a product. It is about the experience. It is about brands creating fun for the consumer.
What’s online got to do with it?
With the emergence of social media as a powerful marketing tool, we have the opportunity to continue that bonus, that little extra something. Now more than ever, brands have the opportunity to interact with consumers. That interaction is the online free prize. Imagine the feeling that a consumer gets when they tweet at their favorite company, say, Starbucks, and less than five minutes later, Starbucks responds. Think of how a customer would feel if they “liked” a Facebook page and received a coupon for 10% off their next purchase? Picture the joy that a person would get to find an entire online community of people who love dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets just as much as they do?
Online is the perfect place to add that little something extra. It is low risk, costs a whole heck of a lot less than big ol’ ads, and provides an open environment to build relationships with consumers. These are our charges day in and out. So how are your products remarkable? What bonuses are you providing for your consumers? Are you taking those bonuses online?
Many thanks to Seth Godin – always an inspiration, but a clear provider of the idea behind this blog post. Go read “Free Prize Inside” and do it now.