The problem with appointment promotions is they don’t really build customer loyalty. When Starbucks tells you to come to the store on Thursday between 12 and 2 P.M. for a free apple fritter and they publicize it in a big newspaper ad, you have to make an appointment to go. They’re trying to generate traffic. If you must buy a new cup of something in order to get the free fritter, it’s about product trial. It’s not really a loyalty play because everybody can participate. Unexpected promotions are much better for loyalty building.
Unexpected promotions are much better, also, because they’re more social. With an unannounced promotion, especially one of the free variety, there is a wonderful surprise and feeling of serendipity. With mobile phones what they are today and our “always on” culture, free can go viral fast. And those virused are usually best friends or most appropriate friends.
Let’s say I go into Starbucks to order coffee and get a blueberry fritter, not my usual apple fritter. As I’m waiting online I might tweet or 4square it. Or, text my commuting office mate. Why would I do that? Because I’ve been hit with a pleasant random act of kindness and I can pass it on. I’ve been recruited to be a good guy. And Starbucks has enlisted me to curate their promotion. I mete it out based upon who I think will enjoy it. The human algorithm. And, by letting “the people” promote your promotion, you can spend more money on the giveaway itself and less on advertising. Try it you’ll like it. Peace.