The Power of Giving

Les Schwab Tires Centers does over $10 million in repairs a year for free.

If you have a flat tire, pay them a visit and they’ll fix it for free. Because of this dedication to meeting their customer’s needs, last year their chain of 200 tire outlets did over $1 billion in revenue.

Mad River Glen Ski Resort in Vermont offers free seasons passes to children under twelve when with the purchase of an adult three-day (or season pass). Because of this, they won the National Ski Areas Associations “Best Program to Grow the Sport to New Participants” and revived their once dwindling base of family skiers.

How’d they do it? “The Candy Effect”

The Candy Effect phenomenon was first mentioned in an article in the Atlantic Magazine. I read about it recently in Charlie Cook’s small business marketing “Insider Secrets” series. Charlie relates that a study found that restaurant servers who delivered the check along with a piece of candy made 18% more in tips.

The Candy Effect is based on “The Law of Reciprocity” which is based on the idea that if you give something to someone they will feel obligated to give you something back. Or to look at it from a slightly different angle, when someone gives you something your natural tendency is to return the favor.

Of course, you have to be smart about how you use The Candy Effect. You can’t come off as insincere. The gift should be given without expectation of receiving anything in return.

Plus you have to make sure that what you give away solves a problem or fills a need. For instance, you wouldn’t offer your prospects a free eBook on magic tricks when trying to sell them gardening supplies.

In a way, the whole “giving away stuff for free concept” is what sales and life are all about.

Let me explain.

The Law of Reciprocity states that whatever you do will be returned back to you. Which is a very short leap to “if you want to create success for yourself, you should help someone else become successful”.

It reminds me of sales guru Frank Bettger’s ten word definition of sales:

“Finding out what people want and helping them get it.”

In his book “How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success In Selling” after he reveals his ten word definition he adds:

“I can’t begin to tell you the new kind of courage and enthusiasm this gave me. Here was something that was more than a sales technique. It was a philosophy of life.”

Remember to keep The Candy Effect in mind and use it whenever appropriate. It’s a great marketing tool you can use to expand your client’s business.

But more importantly, use it in life. Because in the end, it’s not what you get in life that’s important, it’s what you give away.

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Published: June 24, 2009

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