The answer is Yes! VERY IMPORTANT! and here’s why.
I recently encountered an experience that inspired me to write on this topic.
I was taking a walk through town with the kids and the dog this weekend enjoying one of the hottest days of the year so far. We stopped by the local ice cream parlor and the kids and I walked the dog in the sun while hands got sticky and napkins around the cones got soaking wet by melting ice cream. We were enjoying the hot sun when we passed a cute italian restaurant with a couple chairs outside. A very friendly employee greeted us at the door as we walked by and asked
“How are you doing today?? Would you like to try a cannoli? They just came out of the oven and are super fresh! I just whipped up the cream. Wait here...I would love for you to try one!”
At this point I thought, wow how sweet! She didn’t even wait for me to answer. What great marketing, giving away samples as people walk by. But as I stood there waiting, I realized that if this WASN’T a sample, then what the heck am I going to do, because I only brought enough cash with me for ice cream, and not a cannoli that I really didn’t want in the first place. I had $2 in change with me and started to panic a little.
She finally came out (with the Chef!!) and on top of the To-Go container was a nice black leather bill fold containing the CHECK!
I said “Omigod I just realized that I only have $2 in cash on me as I only expected to buy ice cream on the walk”. They said “no problem… just sit here, eat the cannoli, and we can come to your house and collect payment. Do you want coffee too?” I said “NO thank you! I can walk home and bring it back.” The Chef said, “I really don't mind coming to your house. Where do you live?” Now getting a little frustrated, I stood up and said,
'not necessary. I will be right back, let's go kids. Thank you so much."
I opened the bill fold and took out the check. One small cannoli was almost $10!
Then it came to mind as I walked back to the house that I am on a gluten free, dairy free diet! Hahahah! What just happened to me? I feel like I got robbed!
I ended up going home, cheating a little on my diet to taste it. Not the best cannoli but the cream in the middle was delicious! Presentation was beautiful. I found the phone number on the check and decided to call them with my credit card number. On the phone the chef picked up and said. “I really don’t mind coming there to get payment and that way you can just give me cash.” OMIGOD!! YOU CAN’T COME TO MY HOUSE!
So the point of this story is not about the chef inviting himself to my house to collect payment, rather, it’s about the employee manipulating me into purchasing something I really didn’t want! And making it sound like it was a sample by using the language “do you want to TRY a cannoli?” This sentence has a different meaning than “Would you like to order a cannoli for your walk?”
My first impression was, what a great business giving out free samples… I looked at the menu and considered ordering take out later for dinner. Or maybe next week. This ran through my mind because I thought they were so sweet to give out freebies during a time when the whole world is struggling. I would love to give back to them and support their business and order from them. I would have been a customer over and over again at that cute little Italian restaurant but for $10 in revenue probably $4 in profit, they lost that extra revenue by tricking me into buying that small pastry that I didn’t even want. Now I have a sour taste in my mouth after the experience, despite them being wonderful and sweet. I’m not sure that I will go back there now, to be honest.
So to all business owners out there, learn from the lesson in this story and realize that giving just a little can make a big difference in acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, getting great referrals, and in turn, increasing your revenue.
Please share this story with your friends who are business owners.
Giving goes a long way.
Questions or suggestions? Please comment below!
Desirae Haluk is passionate about marketing for startups and small businesses. For the last 15 years she has held marketing executive positions for organizations both large and small. She realizes that her true passion is helping establish, grow and evolve startups and small businesses to make them successful and help achieve their goals.