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*:
    *Participants must pay shipping and handling fee of $15

  • 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

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, 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.

12 Responses to “Give a Little, Get a Little…”

  1. YES! This is exactly it. Brilliant marketing by Zappos. I had never heard of them or shopped there, but now that I “know” them from Twitter I most certainly will.

    The power of Twitter is not a traffic driving tool, it is a relationship building tool.

  2. As far as coffee pods go, I really enjoy the Dixie Voodoo and Brazil Santos from I wasn’t impressed with Senseo’s brand, but loved these pods. They have an excellent sampler pack, to boot.

    Hiya, saw you through SxDS’s page!

  3. Thanks Kim – that last sentence sums it up PERFECTLY.

    @BirdOfParadox – thanks for the heads up… we’ll definitely check them out. Oddly, my favorite Senseo is the decaf – the rest of the roasts seem a tad acidic so far… But I’m excited about trying the cappuccino blends too. :)

  4. Hi, my name is Beckie, and I am addicted to Senseo ;)

    I got mine on the same deal as you last year, and we use ours almost every day. I am sure I have bought enough pods to more then pay them back for the free coffee maker, LOL!!

  5. And yet…

    My wife and I visited my brother in Southern Carolina, and woke up one morning to the query: “Would y’all like some coffee?”

    Why yes, we rather did.

    So, my sister-in-law bustles into the kitchen, yanks out this… contraption, and we are introduced to Tassimo. Foul, wicked, bulbous, space-age, magical, spiteful Tassimo.

    You see, The first cup, she was “say mag nuh feek”. I mean, seriously, I damned near cried as I supped each whipped, frothy, milky cappucinoian ounce over my dry lips. It was like drinking Italy, and yet tasting France, and then swallowing Columbia. It was, in a word, (where a=4) pretty freaking great coffee.

    So, we get home from this trip, and head right out to Bed Bath and Beyond Sonoma Crate and Barrel Target. Somewhere in each of those stores, we see the Tassimo, and a yammering begins in my head. My need for the taste was becoming alive. I called it “Tasty Monkey”, and it was not my friend. It berated me. It cajoled me. It demanded that I buy THAT MACHINE RIGHT NOW!!!

    But, shnickeys! That thing retails for, like, $250.00. And this was before the dollar fell. In your world dollars, it was probably worth 4 thousand million dollars. Way, way too much for the then just recently married couple. Plus I would be hooked to the pods, as you so eloquently point out. First one was free, but I could easily see downing 3-6 pods a day. And forget about it if I entertained!

    So, cooler heads prevailed, and we left empty handed. Then, come Christmas Day in the Morning, Good King Wencestershire, in the form of a massive UPS man, showed up at my house.

    With a big box.

    From my brother and his lovely, astute, and way, way too generous wife.

    BLAMMO! The Tassimo had risen!

    So, I am there, staring at it’s sleek, round edges, it’s smiling pod bay mouth, and it is winking, POSITIVELY WINKING at me, to “try”.

    I head to the store, and load up on coffees and teas aplenty. Coffee that starts with a G, coffee with milks, hot chocolates hand picked from Guatemalen chocolate mines, where countless Guatamalian child-slaves labor in complete darkness to mine the darkest and sultriest of not yet hot choclates. And, strangely, a buttload of tea.

    Here I am, loading in beverages, and they are good, just, SILLy good. “Oh dear sweet Tassimo, ye hath led us from the desert of coffee filter, and helped us to stand tall, with scalded tongue and sloshy belly, and we doth praise thee”.

    Then, a week later… Disaster.

    I am not going to say what occurred, cause you run a tight ship. All I am going to say is that a certain spigot on a certain valve in Willy Wonka’s less visited factory began to… give around the seals.

    It took me a week to isolate it to that sweet, sweet cappucino latte milk pod. And once I did, and halted consumption posthaste, I was right as rain within a day or two.

    Except, the bitterness began to creep. See, my favorite beverage was now denied to me, and though I tried every single variety of hot beverage Lord Tassimo would give me, none tasted as sweet as that first fruit did.

    And as I foundered, the bitterness held sway. Literally. The machine just got funky. We cleaned it, per instructions. We changed the carbon filters, per instructions. We even took to adding brita filtered waters, in hopes of making it “Get Back to Good”.

    No dice. It just grew steadily stank, more and more each day. I was angry, and sullen, and really tired of running out of these damned pods that produced half drank cups of something that tasted not quite entirely like coffee mated with asphalt. One day, on a lark, (not the bird, or the wheelchair like device, I would crush the former and am not yet fat enough to require the latter) I found myself in the hated Target Tassimo section, surrounded by Tassimonks serving their God to the tune of 90 cents a cup, when I looked left.

    Kona, Whole Bean.

    In a bag.


    I scooped up the bag, and inhaled. SNnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARrrrrrrghAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    So clean!

    So BRIGHT!

    So Coffee!!!

    I took that bag home, cleaned the dust off my once-not-too-shabby grind and brew potter from Cusinart.

    Fired that bad boy up, and, shocker, had the best damn cup of coffee I ever had known. Sans milk, sans creme, just straight up GREAT coffee.

    The difficulty for Tassimo, Senseo, et al, is simply this:

    The closer you get to the roasting and grinding of the bean, the better you will find that coffee am be tasting, sho nuff.

    And nothing good sits in a pod. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers teaches us this.

    Anyway, sorry. I seem to have spilled all over your blog, which I like.

    Anybody want to buy a Tassimo?

  6. @Geoff… lol, that was a blog post in itself! You should repost it.

    That said – I’ve also found this: watch the video review at the bottom…

  7. I have never done the senseo thing (but am now considering it ’cause of you, of course.)

    Zappos, is now followed ’cause of you.

    I *think* I’m starting to get this social networking thing. ;)

    PS: Still on for meeting up at the newbie meeting at BH?

  8. @Michele we are TOTALLY on for BH :) @skimbaco and I are rooming together now, so if it’s okay w/ you, would love to ask her to come along to dinner/whatever :)

    and Zappos is totally worth following!

    We will be knee-deep in this social networking/media thing by July…and old pros! :)

  9. I’ve never been a big coffee drinker-it’s a nice treat for those lazy afternoons spent on my best friend’s back porch or a pick-me-up as I kill time between appointments. In that respect, a pod deal would probably work best for me, since Briguy (my guy lol) just doesn’t do coffee. So thanks for the tip!

  10. Love that Zappos is doing so many innovative things on Twitter. Just recently, Tony offered the following tweet:

    “Headed to Dos Caminos at Palazzo w/ Zappos team. If anyone goes to Dos Caminos in Vegas, say Zappos when making reservations 4 free dessert”

    As for the coffee…Ok, so call me old fashioned but I’ve been using a decidedly low tech single cup Melitta cone filter for longer than I can remember. It works perfectly every time and no waste, no pods and no cleaning or breaking down. Although you have to boil water and use a filter cone, which is fine with me because regular coffee makers don’t get the water hot enough.

    @ Geoff sorry to hear about your troubles. Happily, a basic Melitta cone is only $2.99. And, you can make your coffee to your exact spec.

    Check it out:

    (And, btw, I don’t work for Melitta!)

  11. I “won” the Senseo machine a while back but never followed through with it. I tend to drink tea at home and coffee out, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me – plus I was out of town and missed the limited response window. But you better believe that I keep thinking about that magical machine. Nice to know it’s a real deal. Maybe I’ll try again.

    I love following Tony @Zappos and use him as a classic example of why we should be embracing Twitter. Now if only the ladies in my workshops would jump on board already.

  12. I love Zappos too especially cause of the free shipping!!Now you can shop Zappos and give to your favorite charity through the website: This fabulous website allows you to be a philanthropist every time you shop and I think that is revolutionary! Seeing as though today is World Malaria Day, do some online shopping and click the Global Fund to support the fight against Malaria!

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