When companies should listen, and people should listen to themselves

You know someone like this, I am sure.

This guy or girl, is always talking about how they’d LOVE to come up with the next hit idea, citing examples like The Pet Rock, Tickle Me Elmo, Bratz, Facebook, Grocery Gateway, etc.

I know at least 3 people like this, but all they do is talk.

Talk, talk, talk.

All talk, no action.

They don’t listen to other people, they don’t just shut up for one goddamn second and listen to normal plebians wax poetic on the subway or while waiting in line at the movies, much less themselves.

If they did, maybe they’d come up with the idea that they think will make them millions.

Just the other day on Twitter (and yes, it stuck with me!), one of the Tweeters I follow, a frugal mother to some pretty damn adorable kids, #AmberStrocel said something in response to my plea for Red Robin to open up one of their gourmet burger chains in Quebec or Ontario.

Now, at first glance, it may seem to be a sort of ordinary answer (not that she is ordinary, don’t get it twisted), to my Tweet.

But for some reason, it stuck in my consciousness, and I even mentioned it to BF about how interesting it was.

I didn’t know WHY it was interesting, my brain just retained the information and told me it WAS interesting.

Why is it interesting, Brain?”, I asked.

Then it dawned on me: if I ran a retail business of any sort, I’d be jumping on this tidbit like a rabid FB on a juicy burger.

I mean, think about it what does a balloon cost these days? $0.02 at the most? And then the time it takes to blow it up or to use helium and to set up a couple of them?

If parents like Amber are choosing to go to a restaurant like Red Robin JUST because they give out a free helium balloon, that is huge — they’d pretty much choose a Red Robin restaurant I’d dare say 50% of the time over a competitor just because of a $0.05 balloon.

So as a restauranteur in the sort of family dining business, I’d invest some cash in some cheap balloons just to see if I could see a huge return in sales. And I’d just be out a couple hundred bucks from my little experiment.

But let’s not get stuck on balloons per se.

Try anything, and everything (within reason).

See, when you turn the idea on its head, and re-purpose it for your own retail business, the thing that made me kind of mull over what Amber said was the simple fact that people love to get free things.

How many of you have signed up for credit cards because you got a free mug, t-shirt, bag or frisbee that was godawaful ugly and something you didn’t need?

Or how many of you have gone to a store and purchased $50 worth of makeup just to get the free $2 tote bag? (*raises my sister’s hand for this.. she’s a fiend for free bags*).

Imagine the possibilities, if you could figure out what you could give for free (with a very low cost) just to get people to come into your store.

Balloons for one. But how about a free order of fries for everyone on a table that orders over $50 or something? Or a discount card for frequent diners?

For a real life situation, I was told by a client once that they were ridiculed by other grocery stores because one year, they went out on a limb and decided to buy fondue sets from a salesman who just came back from China, for $1 each.

They bought out his stock of 10,000 or something like that.

Other stores thought they were a bunch of mad cows, buying fondue sets for $1.

What the hell were they going to do with that!?!“, they chortled.

They are NEVER going to unload those! No one wants a fondue set!“, they smirked.

The client ignored them, and put them on sale around Easter season or Christmas (something festive) and said they would give one fondue set away for free for every customer who purchased $100 worth of groceries.

They sold out the entire stock within 2 weeks.

Granted, these customers may have decided to have purchased $100 worth of groceries ANYWAY, but assuming that 25% of those customers are individuals that would have never set foot in the store to begin with, it means that they grossed an additional $250,000 in sales.

Not bad for a $10,000 investment, is it?

All they had to do, was just get 100 NEW customers to buy $100 worth of groceries just to get this $1 fondue set, and they would have covered the cost of the fondue set investment, and anything above that in new customers would be a profit.

I mean, heck they still have 9,900 fondue sets to sell with every $100 grocery purchase!

You don’t need to just apply this principle only if you have retail business of some sort.

Heck, you may find job opportunities, exciting projects, a new friend, a boyfriend, a hobby.. anything, just around the corner anywhere you go, if you’d just listen to yourself and others.

Then sift through all of the noise like a gold digger, and truly process what you’re hearing to find that one golden nugget of wisdom.

(God I sound corny.)

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.