Burger King recently gave away free coffee… not a free cup of coffee if you bought something, just a free cup of coffee – no purchase required.

Why, because as Vistage member and speaker Brad Fallon said years ago, “If you give it away, you can sell a lot more.”  In Burger King’s case, it wasn’t just about selling more coffee. It was about selling more of everything; the folks at Denny’s proved that following their announcement at the Super Bowl several bowls back.

A TV ad during the event announced Denny’s would be serving free “Grand Slam” breakfasts to all who asked the next morning.  The next evening, every network TV newscast, most local newscasts and the next morning’s daily all featured stories of the long lines outside the Denny’s in their communities.   A few days later, Denny’s CEO admitted to a USA Today reporter that the promotion had brought many folks back who hadn’t been to a Denny’s in years, attracted new customers who had never been inside, and, by the way, most everyone bought coffee or a soft drink to go along with their free breakfast.

Those in the restaurant business will tell you that their margin on drinks is a multiple of what they make on the food. And the Denny’s chain logged more than one hundred million dollars worth of free publicity that served to significantly raise the brand’s profile.

So, if you’re in business, but not necessarily the CEO or owner, the question becomes what can you give away that will attract business? For many, the answer is ‘expertise.’  Ever stop to wonder about “the why” in back of all those emailed newsletters you receive that offer unsolicited (and unpaid) business tips? It is information being provided you free that others charge a fee to provide.  The hope of the originator is that the reader will provide the sender with credibility and recognize a degree of expertise – and then assume if the sender offers this for free, there must be a lot more in back of it –  and then makes a decision to spend for more.  They are buying because they got a taste, something of value (a cup of coffee, a breakfast, a few Sales tips) for free.

Some decorators give away ideas as to how you can improve the look, feel of your home in hopes you will hire them. Some Search Engine Optimization folks offer suggestions for improving your web site’s rating. Burger King gave away coffee.

What do you have for sale?  What could you give away that might open the door to that sale? Not a key chain, not a letter opener or a Swiss pocket knife, but something of value that ties closely to your core product or service.

What can you give away for free, no strings, no conditions, that will be of value to the recipient and cause them, at some point, to want – and be willing to pay – for more?  Yes, it is counter intuitive, but you will sell a lot more… ask at Denny’s.

Bud Carter, b5d.f72.myftpupload.com