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Purchases from now-defunct Good Idea Foods Co. came with one share of its common stock, certificate and all. Courtesy photo
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Taking stock with potato chips

Thirty years ago, I bought a bag of potato chips.

Stepping on the scale this morning reminds me that I’ve probably bought (and eaten) a truckload of these munchies since then. But this particular potato chip experience was special enough to stand out in my mind.

Because every bag of snacks I purchased from the Good Idea Foods Co. came with one share of its common stock, certificate and all.

The company had obviously figured out that, regardless of what you sell, your customers are asking one question: What’s in it for me?

And by providing an “ownership” position in the company, Good Idea Foods had successfully gotten me to buy into its success. The company was motivating me to buy more of its merchandise.

Pretty slick trick!

Now for my confession: After I received that first stock certificate, I went out and bought a bunch more of Good Idea’s snack foods.

I eventually ended up with several dozen shares. My youthful fantasies of easy wealth focused on retiring early and writing a novel while sitting on a beachfront veranda.

Plus, I’d get to eat all that junk food! Distributing a share of stock is arguably a cleaner, more effective strategy than having me send in four box tops.

Furthermore, in addition to providing significant incentive to continue buying its products, Good Idea Foods also added my name (and countless others) to its mailing list. That mailing list was undoubtedly rented out to other businesses numerous times.

Sadly, Good Idea Foods went belly up in 1997. So much for my youthful wisdom and foresight, eh?

But remember, a sales promotion is supposed to generate short-term sales with an eye toward establishing long-term customer relationships. Anyone familiar with the story of Willy Wonka recognizes the fury that can be generated by a good promotional campaign.

And while most promotions these days are humdrum contests and drawings, you periodically encounter a campaign that’s professional, clever and most important, different.

Your business can also benefit from the occasional sales promotion. Done properly, it can grab attention, build long-term revenues and steal market share from your competitors.

As this manufacturer showed, being daring and outrageous has potential to add some immediate flavor to your bottom line. And that makes it a good idea.

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

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