Posts Tagged ‘hamburger’

Fascinated With Free Burgers And The Power Behind Word Of Mouth Marketing

April Fool’s Day was earlier this week and when I picked up James (my 15 year old son) from school he told me he got a free hamburger. Before lecturing him about why he shouldn’t mooch off his friends, which was my first instinct, I asked him how he got a free hamburger. I was curious and also jealous. If there are free burgers going around you can bet your sweet ass that I want one too. James told me…before I start, please remember that this is a kid that once melted ice cubes in the microwave because he wanted a glass of water, among other odd behaviors.


* Illustration by the super talented Neal Breton

James told me that Sylvester’s (try the “Hana” burger!) put an ad in the paper for FREE BURGERS, but that they did it as an April Fool’s joke. It might have only been in the school paper. According to James the public was upset and Sylvester’s had to deliver on their promise instead of yelling “April fool’s, dummy!” at every teen that came in waving a free burger coupon in their face. I heard James explain how he got a free burger twice. Once in the car ride home and again when we got him and he told Coral. Both times he mentioned that Sylvester’s “lost A LOT of money.” And this is what fascinated me.

I can see how somebody would jump to the “lost money” reaction, but think about it. Free burger’s for one day is an awesome marketing campaign. Sylvester’s is less than a five minute walk from Atascadero High School. If they ran their ad in the school paper a lot of kids will be talking about a free Sylvester’s burger. Then those kids come home and tell everybody about it. The average cost of a burger there is $6. Their cost on that, I’m guessing is $2-3. I don’t know the food industry, for all I know burgers might have a huge markup and my guesstimation is way off. Maybe it’s a $1.50. Either way, the way I see it is this. Sylvester’s basically paid A BUNCH of teenagers $2 to talk about them for the next day or two. I think that is way more effective than a print ad in a local paper. And it’s not really just a day or two because all of those kids now have a story to tell about Sylvester’s. And kid’s love telling stories. James might tell his free burger story every time he sits down to have a burger (from any burger place) with anybody. We’ve all done that. You sit down at a restaurant with a friend and when the food comes you compare it to similar things you’ve had at other restaurants. And if one of those restaurants did something awesome like give you a free beer or appetizer that’s the place that will stand out and you’ll talk about it. So, did they lose A LOT of money? I doubt it. They got people to say their name and if people are thinking about their business they might be thinking about it until they can’t fight the temptation to sink their teeth into one of their tasty burgers. I mean, check it out..I just mentioned their name in this post seven times. The $2-3 they “lost” by giving my son a free burger has already paid for itself. Once I link this post on Facebook it will probably get at least 100 views, but it will also remain on the internet as long as my blog is around. I’m no famous 20k hits a day blogger, but I do get some readers and I’m tempted to say all this name dropping is the kind of advertising you can’t pay for.

So many businesses dismiss marketing and think of spending money on marketing as a waste, but it’s not if it’s done right. You just have to get creative and giving something away for free that won’t break your bank account is a good start. And I just realized, the Sylvester’s ad only offered a free burger, which means some of those people might have added fries and a drink or both to their order. Based on that, the “free” burger might have paid for itself as soon as the coupon was redeemed.

Let’s eat!

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