Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Stuff

People love free stuff. There's really no denying it, but sometimes I am amazed at the power of free stuff. Now rest assured, I am not immune to this myself. I am that idiot at the make up counter who will buy $40 more worth of stuff I don't really need, to get tiny sample sizes of more things I don't need. The "free gift". Also have you ever noticed that most of the time the things in the free gift are horrible? Like a strange tote bag in an awkward size and lipstick colors not found in nature, that would not flatter anyone?

Anyway, I'm not one to knock free stuff, as my entire career is built on Starbucks gift cards. I am shocked by their power. Business owners who normally would not make eye contact with me will give me 30 minutes of their time for a $5 gift card. Now, five dollars will barely get you a latte at Starbucks these days, and that's if you don't get too fancy, yet somehow it works! Now, I'm sure if I offered people a five dollar bill, it would not have the same effect.

My company also has normal type stuff, "swag" as it's often called, to give out to our customers. Pens w/ our logos, stress balls, etc. It is crazy how people will fight over these things! People who I know make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, all jockeying over the same twenty-nine cent pen.

Heaven help you if you don't bring enough for everyone. You will find yourself in a sea of dirty looks, then making crazy promises like "I will mail you 10 more next week". And then you have to do it. So you spend more on postage than these items are even worth so that everybody gets a pen that will stop working or run out of ink in probably 4 days.

One of my co-workers recently had a dilemma with a pack of playing cards. She had promised the guy she was meeting with, "Yes, I will bring you some 'insert company name here' playing cards when I come". Now, first of all, who needs playing cards? Do people (outside of my family, who will caught up in a 4 hour spades tournament from time to time) even play cards anymore?

Well, she goes to her meeting and she has lost the cards. She can't find them anywhere after a thorough search of the rental car. Then the guy gets miffed about it! Incredible. I'm sure she had to go buy some playing cards and send them to him, and then it wasn't "the same" because they did not have the company logo.

The power of free! Remember that next time you need to get someones attention. People say their time is priceless, I say, nope, it's the cash equivalent of one grande pumpkin spice latte!

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