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Giving Away Pancakes: Why Free Rocks

Yesterday was National Pancake Day, according to IHOP. While I myself didn’t partake of the free hotcakes, many people did. And here’s why giving away pancakes rocks.

People   love free things. To the point that they’re willing to pay for them. Huh? IHOP gave away pancakes from 7 am to 10 pm, and asked that customers donated money to the Children’s Miracle Network if they were able. While some people only came for the free pancakes and didn’t donate, many gave, and many bought things to accompany the free pancakes.

IHOP is aiming to raise $5 million for the Children’s Miracle Network within 5 years (this is the 5th). Last year they raised $425,000. That’s a lot of free pancakes!

In addition, fans spread the word. I heard about Free Pancake Day on Twitter, where there were thousands of mentions. Blogs and Facebook, too, were riddled with mentions. Free publicity from people who want to share. Priceless.

Free is a veritable marketing tactic. Whether you’re donating money to charity (also a good PR move) or just giving away the farm to sell some milk, free works. But I can’t afford to give away anything for free, you’re whining. My reply? You very well may not be able to afford not to. Here are some examples of freebies:

  • Making a larger size product and selling it for the same price (25% more free!)
  • Giving away a bonus item, such as a free table with sale of a couch
  • Free info products (get my free book/ebook with a coaching package)
  • Free services; if you’re in the services industry, give away something your clients wouldn’t otherwise buy as a way of introducing it

My assignment to you is to think about what you can give away for a month, a day, a week. Promote it. See if you don’t see an increase in sales as a result.

Time to share! What have you given away for free? How did it work?

Let the Public Vote on Your Ad Campaign

I’m a little slow to get through the stack of business magazines on my table, so forgive me for delivering this story a little late. Fortune Magazine asked 5 Detroit ad agencies to come up with an ad that would draw young professionals to Detroit. Then they invited the public to vote on them.

I hated all the ads but #2, and unfortunately I voted too late to make a difference. Still, I love the idea of asking the people what appeals to them. After all, it’s not the big-time ad execs at the top that the ads are targeting. It’s me. And you. More clients should make ad agencies compete and get the opinions of the average professional, in my opinion.

See the ads and results here.