The Coast News Group
Courtesy image
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Putting in his 2 cents

Recently, a postcard was tossed on my driveway from a painter hustling for business. It said “Allow me to give you my ‘two cents,’” and two pennies were taped to the card.

It reminded me of a 1950s Reader’s Digest promotion quoting an ancient Persian suggesting spending half your pennies on your body, half for your soul.

RD sent out two pennies with each sales letter, inviting the reader to return one against his subscription to the soul-satisfying Digest.

The wrinkle: The Digest promotion needed 100 million pennies to be implemented. They quickly stripped the entire New York area of its penny inventory!

US Mint officials, realizing this wasn’t a nickel and dime operation, investigated. All fingers pointed toward a warehouse storing the currency.

Officials and magazine folk coordinated, arranging for 60 million pennies to be flown in from around the country. When they arrived, the warehouse floor collapsed.

Despite these headaches, the promotion was amazingly successful.

As I look at the efforts of Henry’s Professional Painting, it’s a good reminder that services geared toward homeowners can be easily promoted with a clever idea and a postcard.

As Reader’s Digest proved, this inexpensive promotion can have a potentially big payoff. Henry’s card, tape and pennies combined cost less than a quarter, meaning just one new project will pay for the whole promotion.

My guess is Henry delivered his cards to driveways in the neighborhoods he wants to target, allowing him to control potential workflow.

If he was too busy to do it himself, he could have hired a service to hit a wider area … then sat back to await potential customer inquiries.

Henry doesn’t refer you to a website with before/after photos, but does offer lots of references and free estimates. The website would provide added credibility, but I’m guessing he’ll learn that soon.

This promotion is also a good reminder that there’s nothing wrong with borrowing an idea that has previously proved to be effective. Just plan to scale it to the size of your business and your staff so you don’t get overwhelmed.

There are hundreds of REALLY good promotions that have been done over the years by companies around the world. Just do your homework, add a few tweaks, and you’ll look brilliant to customers.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Send in your 2 cents to

Leave a Comment