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A Free Lunch (or not)
by Floyd Roberts

I've just read through a marketing consultant's newsletter about a high-flying word-of-mouth marketing program that generated over 8 million dollars of free publicity. You may have forgotten Taco Bell's offer of giving everyone in America a FREE Taco if a base was stolen during the first two games of the world series.

One was, during the second game.

The announcers had two nationally televized games to chatter about the offer. How many listeners talked about their vision of cars around the block at every Taco Bell drive thru and deep lines at every counter. What a picture: the great American sports story, rewards shared by all, tons of warm fuzzies. Isn't that a great scene?

The Taco Tuesday theme was followed and the fine print established that the timing on the offer was 2-5PM. Now, really--would you pack up the family mid-day and head off to a Taco Bell for a free taco for each one in the family? And, if you did, wouldn't you be ordering some other stuff?

The profit of a drink covers the estimated cost of a single taco ($.20) and the offer is a wash for Taco Bell. Their estimated cost for free tacos: $1 million. Estimated value of the publicity: over $8 million. How's that for a deal?

Now, I realize you probably aren't in a position to give away sandwiches to everyone in your service area when the 1 billionth kernel of corn is weighed over your scales. Still, this is a wonderful example of how Word of Mouth Marketing can work. Think about it. Do a little "out of the box" thinking about a promotion that will get people's attention and get them talking. Make it a fun event. I'm sure your return will be much greater than the cost.

It is clear that a good event doesn't just happen by itself. It requires planning. But you have lots of opportunities with which to work. Share your ideas with us and let us share them with your peers all across the country. This could be fun!

I need to finish the last "Trick or Treat" popcorn ball while wrapping up this issue. And that holiday reminds me that we'll be in the middle of the holiday season when you are reading this. So...YOU are receiving my first holiday greeting.

We hope you've had a good year and that '08 is even better! That the holidays bring family, food and fond memories together. And that you allow time to appreciate the blessings of a bountiful harvest.

Floyd Roberts

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