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Make 'em smile, Make 'em laugh!

July 17, 2011

How do you make your customer’s interaction with you fun? If your relationship with your customer is more than a single transaction, then you really should be trying to consider different ways to add a smile or a laugh to the experience.

Today's post was inspired by something I read and something I saw.

A blog post (can’t remember the source) caught my attention talking about Chick-Fil-A’s cow appreciation day – a holiday they created.  Being based in the northeast US, we don’t have many of those restaurants around here, so I don’t follow them much, but I do understand and appreciate the humor in their promotional approach with the cow encouraging us to eat more chikin (sic).  So what is cow appreciation day?  Straight from their web site

“For one day only, black and white spots, cow bells and furry ears will be appropriate attire in the nation's second largest chicken chain. In celebration of July 8, Cow Appreciation Day, an unofficial – yet nationally recognized holiday, Chick-fil-A will award a free combo meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) to any customer who comes to one of the chain's 1,200-plus restaurants fully dressed as a cow.”  And if you don’t want to be fully dressed as a bovine, you can still get a free entrée if you are partially dressed (like with a cow hat).

Here is the most incredible fact about this fun, customer loyalty, promotion. OVER 450,000 people participated!  Lots of smiles and laughs for a $3.50 sandwich.  Go check out the pictures on the website and tell me if you don’t smile just looking at them.

Last week I also had the opportunity and speak at Sage Software’s partner and customer summit.  And they did something I had never seen before, to inject some fun into their accounting and business management software conference.

Like any large conference, there are big distances to cover and they have an enormous tradeshow exhibit hall as well.  Lots of walking. Late nites, early mornings. So in addition to the normal ribbons you typically see attached to the badges at a conference – ones that list things like regions, product affiliation, certifications, etc. – Sage gave you the chance to express a bit of personality as well.  Look at the picture below.

Badge and Ribbons from Sage Summit 2011

These ribbons were available to pick up when you got your badge, and they were left out for the 5 days of the conference.  So if you had tired feed by day 3, you could go back and add the comment to you badge.

If you were looking to build new business relationships, you could tell everyone that you played well with others.

Accounting software consultants and customers are generally not the “over the top” type, so Sage’s approach to giving people a subtle way to express their humor and “issues” was completely appropriate and keeping in perfect harmony with their audience.

What I really like about both of these examples is that they put the fun at the customer’s control.  You can decide how much of a cow you want to be or which ribbons you wanted to wear.  It wasn’t dependent on an enormous staff or some extravaganza to bring out the humor.

And from a cost perspective, it was an affordable approach that any business could take.  For Sage, it was the cost of the ribbons. For Chick-Fil-A, it was the cost of goods sold for the free sandwiches (which was probably more than covered by the additional traffic and family members that came in).

So what are you doing to bring fun to your customer relationship?  To make them smile, laugh or just leave a little less stressed about the world.  Drop us a comment if you have a story to share.

Topics: Marketing

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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