On Saturday, I helped to giveaway 700 hotdogs — ok 698, two were dropped — in about 90 minutes, and it taught me a few lessons about customer attraction and care.
For several days last week, I had the opportunity to help out with the grand opening of a new brick-and-mortar store in Boise, Idaho. One of the highlights was giving away the hotdogs. Think about it, 90 minutes is 5,400 seconds. In order to giveaway 698 hotdogs, we had to hand out a dog every 7.7 seconds.
This also implies that we had something close to 700 customers (people) visit the store at once — although a few folks took two hotdogs and others were families of three or four that might constitute a single customer at the register. But these folks came out on a Saturday morning, lined up, and waited for a free bite to eat. As I mentioned above, this taught me a few lessons about how to attract customers to a retail operation, and I hope to apply those lessons to ecommerce.
Lesson No. 1: Free Items, However Small, Attract Customers
Hot dogs are not an expensive item. Unless you’re ordering from a concession at LaGuardia Airport in Queens where a dog is like $6, hotdogs are generally cheap. I was at a wrestling tournament a couple weeks back where they were selling for $1.50, including chips. Buy them at the grocery store, and hotdogs are even less expensive.
What’s more, hotdogs are fairly common. I would be willing to bet that most of the folks reading this article have a package of hotdogs in the fridge right now. And I’d bet that many, if not most, of the folks who visited the grand opening to get a free one, also had plenty of hotdogs at home.
This teaches me that in order to attract customers, only a small token is required. It might be enough for an online merchant to offer a “free gift with purchase.”
Lesson No. 2: Exceed Expectations to Earn Praise
For the grand opening, we used Double R Ranch hotdogs. These are premium hotdogs that are superior in nearly every way to what you can buy at most grocery chains. And these dogs far exceeded customer expectations.
We had promised customers simple hotdogs, but we delivered something better. The result was a shower of praise that extended from the hotdogs to the retail’s brand.
Customers would start a sentence saying how great the hotdogs were and finish that sentence saying how great the retailer was. Some of those customers even said they would tell everyone just how exceptional this new store was.
This reminded me that exceeding a customer expectation can earn business long term. In ecommerce, the most profitable customers are those who come back for a third or fourth purchase.
Lesson No. 3: Customer Service Feels Great
Finally, there is something about making happy customers that simply feels good. It makes the work and effort that one puts into a marketing endeavor worthwhile. What’s more, it can also be profitable.