Wednesday, August 16, 2017 | Today's Vending Industry News
Imaginative Promotions Engage Customers And Boost Sales

by by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 3/19/2016

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TAGS: Vending Times columnist, OCS salespeople, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, coffee business, office refreshments, OCS sales training, Len Rashkin, Tony Robins, new marketing ideas, selling allied OCS products

Tony Robbins, one of the nation's most successful motivational speakers, said: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." He was referring to the fear of trying something different to change the outcome to a positive result.

I personally love new marketing ideas and I would like to share with you two that I have created and been successful with. The positive outcome was that we achieved the results we wanted by selling more allied products and services and added profits to our bottom line.

State lotteries have proven to be one of the most successful marketing ideas of the century, generating billions of dollars for our 50 states. And they've inscribed this principle in the minds of most U.S. residents: "If you are not in it, you can't win it." So I decided to create my own "lottery ticket" in the form of winning products and services that I was offering in my OCS business.

I contacted a company that produced and printed scratch-off lottery tickets in small runs and had them list eight products and services that I would be willing to give out for free. Each of the categories below was covered with a scratch-off layer. The simple instructions were to scratch off a number until you find a product or service that you had not ordered from us before.

1. Package of mixed Cup-a-Soups;

2. Box of assorted hot chocolates;

3. Twenty-five assorted Nabisco cookies;

4. Bottle of Windex and paper towels;

5. Four 5-gal. bottles of spring water and a cooler for one month;

6. Use of a small office refrigerator for 90 days;

7. One-week use of a single-cup brewer and supplies;

8. One mixed case of 24 12-fl.oz. cans of Coke and Pepsi products.

Our delivery personnel were instructed to give out one lottery ticket at each stop, and our staff kept track to insure that all of our customers were "ticketed" over a period of two months. When a customer called to tell us what they had won, we never asked them if they only scratched off one item. We assumed they scratched off all of them and chose the one they wanted most.

We stopped giving out tickets after the two-month promotion and then restarted twice, with a two-month break between promotions. Our marketing goals were:

1. Getting our customers involved with our customer service reps, or the salesperson who delivered the prizes or arranged for a brewer or cooler installation;

2. Allowing our customers to try something new, a product that they never had ordered before. By giving away variety boxes of hot cocoa, soups, cookies and sodas, we hoped to cover all the taste preferences in that office;

3. Informing our customer base that we had single-cup brewers, water cooler service, janitorial products, cold beverages and snacks, and hot non-coffee beverages;

4. Building goodwill between our clients and our company;

5. Generating new sales of our products and services;

6. Adding profits for our sales staff and our company.

These promotions were very successful over a period of one year. Once the product or service was delivered, we made a note on the client's account as a reminder to ask for a reorder of what we gave them in the promotion.

As a result of this promo, we placed many new water coolers into service and sold thousands of dollars in additional allied products. Single-cup placements were successful, too, once we gave clients a free trial for a week. I strongly suggest that you have good sales controls to follow up properly, or your program will not be as successful.

Another marketing promotion that succeeded for us was sending out a crossword puzzle that we developed with a software package we purchased online. Our goal, again, was to get our customers involved and educated about the products and services we offered.

We simply designed the puzzle with over 40 names of the products, equipment and services that we offered. Here are a few example of the type of questions we asked.

What hot beverage do many people drink on a cold day that has marshmallows in the cup? Hot chocolate! Name the healthy water that is in a 5-gal. bottle that sits on top of a water cooler. Spring! What salty snack product is fun to eat when drinking a cold beverage? Potato chips! Which hot beverage is made with steam and is served in a small 3-fl.oz.cup? Espresso!

We inserted a flyer with the crossword puzzle on top of each case of coffee we delivered. The instructions were simply to fill in all of the blanks and fax, scan or send the completed puzzle by mail to our company and, if all answers were correct we would offer them a choice of several prizes listed on the puzzle form. Again, like the lottery prizes above, we offered as prizes a choice of products that the client had never tried.

Most entries sent in were correct; and if there were errors, we would let them know that we would send them a mix of some of our hot or cold beverages just for playing.

Again, this promotion was successful, and we achieved our goals of informing our customers that we had a lot to offer them; and we gained more sales and profitability. You can do the same by trying something different to promote your company.

Please let me know what you have done with successful promotions. I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association. He is a speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing, and is the author of two OCS training programs.