Give a Little, Get a Little…
A couple of years ago, GeekDaddy and I were in a Wal-Mart picking up diapers and whatnot… and we walked past a product demo. The free sample was a cup of coffee – and given our consistent state of sleep deprivation as parents, there was no way we were turning it down.
The coffee came out of a Senseo Coffee Pod System… at the time, still pretty new and trying to gain ground. At the time, my idea of ‘single cup coffee’ machines extended from espresso machines to those annoying vending machines that have the paper cups with the poker hand you never win and the watery coffee & hot chocolate for 50 cents…
But it was decent enough coffee – and what a great idea. I mean, I can’t tell you how many 1/2 full pots of coffee I have emptied down the sink over the years. But the machine? Yeah, well, it was priced at around $80 for the machine plus the price of the individual coffee pods… er… maybe not. We thanked the lady and went about our shopping.
I always thought it would be a nice thing to have – but when it comes right down to it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to make that much of an up-front investment on something I wasn’t sure I’d use. Like every other home, we have our own ‘Small Appliance Graveyard’ filled with machines we were sure we’d use that eventually got relocated for new machines we were sure we’d use. I didn’t need to add to it with a pricey coffee maker when I already had a coffee pot and an espresso machine.
Fast-forward to about a month ago…
A friend emails me a link to this Senseo promotion which read:
Selected participants will receive the following $70 retail value for FREE*:
- Selected participants will receive the following $70 retail value for FREE*:
- Senseo® Single Serve Coffee Pod System
- Bag of Senseo® gourmet coffee pods
- Senseo® Coffee Pod Canister for easy pod storage and long-lasting freshness
- 5 $20-off Senseo® coffee machine cards to share with friends and family
*Participants must pay shipping and handling fee of $15
Seriously – sounds too good to be true, eh? I mean, come on… who gives away something that expensive that has clearly been successful enough to stick around for several years?
But I thought ‘what the heck… for $15 s/h, I’ll try it. I’d spend that ordering a pizza or in a few trips to Starbucks… can’t hurt.’
So I filled out forms, gave them info for billing the S/H fee, and promptly forgot about it. Until it showed up on the doorstep and I explained to GeekDaddy what was in the big box.
After it sat unopened by me for about a week – GeekDaddy unpacked it one morning and set it up. I know, because i was awakened with a freshly brewed cup of coffee that was waaaay to darkly roasted for my tastes. “That’s the dark roast that came with the new machine – we’ll have to try some other blends too,” he said.
He came home that afternoon with several bags of ‘other blends’ in pods to try.
By the end of the week, the ‘old coffee pot’ went to live with its predecessors in the Small Appliance Graveyard. We’re hooked. Firmly.
But that’s the beauty of it, you see… the company doesn’t make the bulk of it’s profit on the machines – it makes them on the pods. Which usually run anywhere from about 30 cents to $1 each depending on where/when you buy them and in what quantities. Now, that’s way more expensive than your average can of Folgers costs per cup – BUT – it’s way less than your average Starbucks and no more pouring unused coffee down the drain every day.
So they hooked us as customers by giving us the machine. Not a bad deal on their part. Something Gevalia coffee has been doing for years – which probably works for them frequently (but never did with me, I don’t like their coffee, personally.)
Now, during this same time frame, a company I already respected a lot, Zappos.com decided to join the Twitter community full-force. Seems their employees had already been utilizing it – and Tony, their CEO decided to join Twitter as @zappos. It didn’t take long for the Twitter community to find @zappos and follow him – partially because he was running a promotion/contest of giving a free pair of shoes to one of his followers early on, partially because many of us already knew the site and loved the shoes, and partially because their company presence was so amazing.
Okay, granted – when they started giving away things like a trip for two to Las Vegas to tour the factory and meet with Tony – it started getting even more appealing… but by then we were all following already anyways and perusing the Zappos website with shoe-lust in our hearts.
I wasn’t really aware of how much different the presence of Zappos on Twitter was until I started getting new ‘shoe seller’ spam followers on Twitter by the handful this week. Like the account @buyshoes — which just posts random news links in the hope that you will stop by their Twitter homepage and follow the link back to ‘sicshoes . com’ (which I won’t link and am munging – not going to give them traffic, thanks) and buy shoes from their crappy website.
Now, honestly – I can use a search engine with the best of them. I know how to find shoes online if I want to. What no search engine can really tell you though is what kind of company you are doing business with before you do. But I can tell you what kind of company Zappos is – it’s the kind whose CEO makes the time to interact with their potential customers… and is willing to run a few free promotions because he knows that most people will pay a little bit more if necessary to deal with a company that treats them well. It’s the kind of company whose employees all seem to love what they do and are positive and upbeat (don’t believe me? click here) It’s the kind of company that I want to do business with.
While I’ll happily continue blocking the link-spamming shoe-bots that follow me on Twitter – I’ll be recommending them to anyone and everyone who will listen. Same as I sent that Senseo email to about a dozen friends and family and keep singing its praises.
Because honestly, the easiest way to make a loyal customer is to give them something they weren’t expecting… like a coffee pod machine, or a pair of shoes, or even just your time and attention.
It’s not rocket science – but it often seems like some companies perceive it that way. Thank heavens there are those who get it right the first time.
Now if you’ll excuse me – I’m going to drink a cup of decaf coffee made freshly just for me and go peruse some shoes…
~ by Lucretia on April 20, 2008.