Why a Free Prize?
Godin took this concept of the free prize from his childhood experience. He waxed on nostalgically about how, as a child, he pestered his mom to buy the cereal box with the free prize inside.[i] He found this premium—one that sets your product apart from the competition—to be a metaphor for his message. And he offered a number of examples products that offer the premium that markets itself.
Better Than Marketing
For example, Godin wrote:
Jeff Bezos Understands That Advertising Is Dead.
A year ago, Amazon.com announced that they were going to stop advertising altogether. No more TV. No more magazine ads. Instead, the company decided to put the money it was spending on ads into free shipping instead.
Marketers were aghast. The idea of investing your ad dollars into actually making the product better was heresy. Pundits once again proclaimed the death of Amazon.
After twelve months, the results were in. Sales for the year were up 37 percent. International growth was an astonishing 81 percent. Amazon reported its first quarterly non-holiday profit, attributed to growth due to the change in marketing tactics.[ii]
Amazing—increased sales without marketing. Amazon does not need to market itself. I heard about Amazon from a professor recommending a particular book when I was a graduate student and since then I have probably told a hundred people to “just go buy it on Amazon.” Amazon had this pull because you could find just about anything there and prime members get free delivery. Who needs advertising when you have such an incredible value proposition?
There is an old saw in marketing attributed to John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”[iii] The Free Prize Inside approach eliminates this dilemma.
The Free Prize Mafia
You too can join the Free Prize Mafia. Here are a few examples of companies who have designed products with a free prize inside. Here are just a few that Godin mentioned:
- McDonnalds did it literally with the Happy Meal. Kids derive more value from the box and the prize than they would from an adult meal that was twice as expensive.
- In-and-Out Burger did it with a stripped down menu of only 7 items[iv] (with a secret menu for those in the know).[v]
- Wal-Mart did it with low prices built into the deal. They advertise, but they really don’t have to. We all know that they are the low-price leader. They stay the low-price leader because they are constantly working to lower prices.[vi]
- Toyota built the Prius so you could tell the world how environmentally conscious you are every time you drive your car. Yes, it is a car, but it is also statement.[vii]
- Netflix brought movies to you, but more importantly, they removed the pain of late fees that Blockbuster counted on as the core of their business model.[viii]
- 5-Hour Energy gives us the caffeine kick of a cup of coffee but without the hassle of actually drinking the entire cup. But the greater value-add is that it is only 4 calories compared to 100 for a Red Bull or more than 400 calories for a Frappuccino at Starbucks.
My favorite example is Vinyl Me, Please (http://www.vinylmeplease.com).[ix] Personally, I don’t care about Vinyl records, but I learned of this because one of my former students is a co-founder of the company.
While you can download music from iTunes or Amazon easily and you can probably find the CD if you search for it, some music lovers miss the texture and feel of old Vinyl records. Vinyl Me, Please provides the same music as the digital download, but in a format that adds value to the user’s experience.
The records are new and this may be the first time they have been released in Vinyl. Packaging may be updated to include new bonus material that cannot be found anywhere else. If you join the monthly record club, they’ll include free shipping. But the real prize inside is the format. Vinyl is a niche, but those who want records for their collection really want them.
What About You?
Do you offer a free prize inside? If not, how can you repackage your offerings so that it is so desirable that you don’t need to market it?
[i] Godin, S. (2004). Free prize inside! The next big marketing idea. New York: Portfolio Penguin. (p. 9).
[ii] Godin, S. (2004). Free prize inside! The next big marketing idea. New York: Portfolio Penguin. (p. 5).
[iii] Bradt, G. (2016, Sept 14). Wanamaker was wrong—The vast majority of advertising is wasted. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2016/09/14/wanamaker-was-wrong-the-vast-majority-of-advertising-is-wasted/#1b389362483b
[iv] (p. 152).
[v] Perman, S. (2010). In-N-Out Burger: A behind-the-counter look at the fast-food chain that breaks all the rules. New York: Harper Business.
[vi] Godin, S. (2004). Free prize inside! The next big marketing idea. New York: Portfolio Penguin. (p. 143).
[vii] Godin, S. (2004). Free prize inside! The next big marketing idea. New York: Portfolio Penguin. (p. 161).
[viii] Godin, S. (2004). Free prize inside! The next big marketing idea. New York: Portfolio Penguin. (p. 164).