He Can’t Even Give Money Away

A reader, Paul Rusnak, wrote in with the following account of his failed attempt at marketing:

I am a subscriber of you weblog and I enjoy reading all the stories, many of which give me new ideas to market my business.

Here is something that happened to one of my creative marketing ideas… that didn’t work or maybe it did work and I don’t know it yet.

I own and manage a local pack and ship store called Goin’Postal in Washington NJ and I am always looking for new marketing ideas. Since I am only open 6 months, my main goal was to make people aware of my location and the services I offer.

The annual car show seemed like a great opportunity to get my word out. They were asking local business owners to pay $300.00 to help sponsor the event. Alternatively, I can put a giveaway in one of the “goodie bags” that would be given out to each car registered.

I thought about the typical pen with my name on it or the travel mug with my logo on it that most people may or may not use but I wanted to do something unique. I notice giving away money really worked for the time-share industry so I decided to try that on a smaller scale.

I printed 150 coupons that offered a FREE $ 2.00 bill. No purchase necessary — no strings attached. Just bring the coupon to my store and I will give you a brand new $2.00 bill. Remember my goal was to get people aware of where I was located. I was two blocks from the car show. A 5 minute walk at most for $2.00. I was open early with my 150 $2 bills wondering how fast they would disappear. 1 hour, maybe 2 hours at the most. Well to my surprise, giving away money, even in this economy only brought in three people.

Did it work? NO. But it only cost me $6.00 to find out. I could have spent $300 to be one of the sponsors but now I have $294. back for an idea that didn’t work.

Can the economy be that bad if people will not even come in for free money? Maybe they thought it was a joke because of my store’s name. Who knows?

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