I Want to.... Give Away a Free Car

Thursday, April 12, 2012 — by Jeff Molitor

Marketing “currency” is your key to building an effective promotion that receives big attention. Win consumers, tie in with a cool brand, and engage an entire audience.

Ever wonder how can they afford to give a car away for free? As a marketer there is a tendency to think that a game-changing promotion offering away tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise requires a huge budget, along with huge expectations of delivery by your superiors.

It doesn’t, and it’s easier than you think to make it happen.

Lessons from the Lunch Room

Think back when you were in grade school devising a plan in the lunchroom (barter battleground central) to trade that Suzie-Q in your Mork & Mindy lunchbox for a week’s worth of Milk Duds and Mike & Ike. Suzie-Qs (and Ding Dongs & Ho-Hos for that matter) were major currency in the grade school lunchroom domain. It’s the same premise in the grown up world: you can use your media and marketing exposure as your own adult-world Suzie-Q.

Lessons from My Beagle

It happens in everyday life all around us. My beagle, Cooper, is a great companion who is stubborn as a mule but understands that the intangibles he can offer (those angelic eyes) can get him almost anything from the dinner table. Cooper’s asset is his ability to be the perfectly behaved dog at the perfect time with the perfect look. It’s his currency.

Define your currency and the approach to use it and you’ll have a great base from which to secure partner support at no cost to you.

What are You Worth?

To understand what it takes to make partnership opportunities happen for your brand, your category, or your company, do a simple audit of your assets and determine your own currency. The key is to define what is valuable within your current media and marketing efforts and place a value to each of those.

Look at your media and marketing plan and determine 1) what space you would be willing to provide to a potential partner (print, digital, broadcast, in-store, etc), and 2) the $ value of that space. You will be surprised at how realistic an opportunity it is to provide space to a potential partner, without sacrificing the real estate to your own brand, as well as the dollar-value you can offer to a partner to negotiate.

What Partner is Right for You?

Once a currency inventory and a value is determined the next step is to determine a “wish list” partner profile that aligns with your brand. Ubiquity in a partner offering (i.e. cars, electronics, etc.) is always a positive route unless you have a very specific need that requires a specific partner brand. Think big but not too big. Be aggressive in your approach but be realistic. When considering to offer up free product for a marketing initiative, most partners usually work off of an exposure-to-product value ratio - i.e. Cool Car Company may operate on a 20-1 ratio; marketing/media exposure to vehicle retail value. So as an example, Ford will offer up a free $30,000 vehicle (retail value) in exchange for a marketing and media value of $600,000 (20:1 ratio)

How Should I Approach a Partner?

Before approaching a potential partner, make sure to establish your full currency position. This includes the marketing and media asset and space to offer, but also the company/brand demographic and psychographic information, full media statistics (web hits, in store traffic, impressions and interactions, etc), and a full benefit statement for the partner to consider (the “why” statement). We also suggest compiling this information into your own 1-sheet format that is creatively designed to show the partner concisely what they are being offered. Make it easy for them to understand the opportunity at hand and not just another item on their ‘to-do’ list.

You will be surprised, not only at the volume of partners that will be receptive to your outreach, but also have internal directives (and budget) to make it happen.

Launching A Successful Promotion

And once you do land a partner (and you will!) be diligent in your efforts to monitor the promotion, measure its performance (the good and bad) and make the data available to the partner. They will immediately realize the value of the partnership. Based on how successful the program, you can use it to continue the partnership for additional promotions and increase the impact from there.

Seek an Advisor

Another good tactic is to use a go-between: a trusted third party that can work on your behalf to minimize depletion of your internal labor resources while providing an advisory role to help maximize your currency position in keeping you on track to make the right currency valuation and partnership opportunity.

Sleep Soundly @ Night

Another supposed obstacle in dipping the proverbial marketing toe in the partnership waters is the apprehension about the legal red tape that may be involved in putting together the program, both from a consumer deployment and a program liability perspective. 95% of this is a perceived obstacle and one that is overcome with the right counsel from the right advisor. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help - align yourself with experts in their field and you’ll sleep like a baby at night (or during the day under your desk if you are George Costanza - any Seinfeld fans out there?).

...and please, let us know when that partnership kicks off for your brand. We want to have a chance to win a free car too.

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