The Bigger They Are...


It shouldn’t have been a surprise, really.

The local Blockbuster shut down last week. Online rental, video streaming, and movie on demand dominate the brick and mortar video industry. And, although I’m sure all of these in-home options played a part in the demise of our local Blockbuster, there was another factor involved here. In our little central Texas town “going out to rent a movie” is considered “Entertainment.” So I think what really took this big boy down was the little kiosk called Redbox. It’s convenient, it’s cheap, and you still get to leave the house to choose your movie. Never mind the fact that browsing takes place on a video screen. Hey, I told you it’s a small town. We’re easily entertained.

Twelve years earlier Blockbuster moved into our town and ran almost all of the mom-and-pop video rental stores out of business. Ironic that this giant was brought down by a little red kiosk with a footprint the size of a phone booth.

Did Blockbuster see Redbox coming? Or were they scanning the horizon for a bigger predator competitor? What about your business? It’s not always the big-boxes and the mega-retailers you have to worry about. Sometimes competition comes in a small package.

Just ask Goliath.

Making Your Name Stick

Chewing_gumGive it away, give it away, give it way, now!
                                          – Anthony Kiedis

In the break room, I’d often find leftover peppermints with the Sonic drive-in logo imprinted on them. Even though no one wanted to eat the mints, no one could throw them away because they were perfectly good mints. (Same with the catsup. We had a drawer filled to the top with nothing but packets of Sonic catsup.)

After seeing the peppermints with the little logo on the wrapper, I would want to jump in my car and head to the drive-in and pick up a # 1 double meat with cheese and an order of tater tots, (or as my nurse-daughter Emily calls it, “a heart attack-to-go”). Back at the break room, I’d finish the meal and then I’d leave the mints on the table.

So what can you give a customer - that won't get thrown away - to serve as a reminder of you when you’re not around?

A friend of mine owns a produce company. He often found his expensive full-color product brochures in his customers’ trash until he started placing exclusive recipes on the back. Now he finds the brochures pinned on the bulletin boards in the offices of his clientele.

Of course, not just any promotional gadget or "gimme" is going to work. For it to have any chance of triggering a positive memory of your company, it has to meet at least one of the following three criteria for the customer.

    * Relevancy – it has to be related to your business and the customer.
    * Personal – it has to be something that specifically fits the individual client.
    * Functional – it has to serve a purpose for it be used and not forgotten.

Offering premiums to your customers is one way you can fight the big boys and win. The tactic of giving stuff away is certainly not new. William Wrigley Jr. started his successful career by selling soap and baking powder. He’d include a free stick of Wrigley’s gum with each can of baking soda. It seemed to work out pretty well for him.