For the past couple of years, I have watched - grinning - as Lay's Potato Chips announced their new annual line-up of fan-suggested flavors for its new chip series. I'm sure you've seen the campaign - asking you first to SUGGEST flavors that might be their next big hit chip - and then taste-testing the three finalists. This year the flavor contenders are Everything Bagel with cream cheese, Crispy Taco, and Fried Green Tomato.
It is amazing - most everyone in my family and circle of friends has been asking for weeks,
"Have you tried all the flavors yet?"
"My store didn't have all three new flavors. Where can you get the Fried Green Tomato one?"
"I thought I would like the taco one best, but I didn't. Which did you like?"
"What flavor could we come up with for next year?"
It's pure brilliance on so many levels.
First, it's customer-driven... a fan base fueling more fans. It screams "engagement," what so many companies lack in their social media marketing. It urges you to do their product development FOR THEM. The campaign creates its own news, its own buzz. And finally, best of all, it gets you to not only TRY their product, but buy and sample all THREE of their new flavors. (And then hopefully hook you on your favorite.) Talk about driving sales!
So what can that teach us for OUR businesses?
1. Whenever you ask your customers for input, you win. They feel important. You gain insight. (But of course, you have to listen.) I often counsel my clients on doing surveys or having a buying council with their clients and prospects. You don't know until you formally ask. You gain incredible feedback, and often opportunities for more business.
2. Next, when you give your customers a choice - ask them to vote on something - they love it. This is especially powerful in a trade show situation. One of my most successful promotions designed for a promotional products counselor asked his booth visitors to vote on the best new holiday gift of the year. The booth was PACKED. Others (especially their competitors) weren't. They were just showing product, not engaging. People spent time examining the product, touching it, evaluating it, and then giving feedback and lead info that developed into business.
3. In direct response, when you ask people to decide on which gift they'd like to receive, response rises. So next time you're offering an incentive, offer a choice. It makes it more personal and gets better buy-in and action.
4. And finally, when you plan a promotion like this, it's always great feed for the press. Make sure you write up the winners - your results - as a press release afterward for even more free exposure.
You bet that Lay's will. So why can't you?
A fabulous fall from your flavor-driven marketing maven...
P.S. My favorite was the Fried Green Tomato flavor. Surprise, surprise. I don't even like fried green tomatoes! The seasoning was zesty and fabulous. What was yours?
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.