Is your marketing missing the cookie factor?

Is your marketing pouring some serious money down the drain, because you don’t have a cookie factor? What is a cookie factor anyway? And, how can you apply this simple marketing strategy and psychological principle to improve your bottom line?

You Buy $30 Takeout, You Get Free Coke and Wontons

My smile was bigger than the Great Wall of China the first time this happened. We were regulars at this Chinese food takeout, but this time there was something unusual. When we paid our bill, out popped a 2-litre bottle of Coke and 6 wontons.

Confusion reigned and dollar signs kicked in. Was I paying for something I hadn’t ordered? Was there some communication gap here? My knitted eyebrows must have revealed my bewilderment quite clearly. Before I could go blah, the little Chinese lady behind the counter held up her hand, smiled and said the words that entranced me forever.

“You buy $30 takeaway, you get free Coke and wontons”

She Had Us Trained Like Lab Rats…

Before that day, we’d never bought Chinese takeaways for more than $25. Yet magically as we crossed the $30 mark, this entrepreneurial woman made sure we knew the value of instant gratification. Every time we hit the $30 mark, out came the goodies. Every time we didn’t, we got our order and big smiles, but little else.

Now we had a choice. We could have our usual, or order just a little more and be rewarded with all the extra goodies that came with it.

What do you think we did?

Yes, just like you and every one else, we like something for nothing and our purchases hit the $30 mark like sunshine hits the Caribbean.

Say Hello To The Cookie Factor!

This in short is the cookie factor. You create a demand for the product with something so alluring that the customer forgets the product itself and concentrates mainly on the cookies. Psychologists call this the psychology of second interest. This effectively means that people shift focus onto the goodies and end up buying the main product based on this tiny inducement.

How Far Can You Take $5?

Pretty far, I’d say judging from Marie’s success. Marie, a friend of ours, is a freelancer and gets called in when there are specific jobs to be done at various design firms. Like clockwork, she lands at the job with a box of yummy, scrumptious chocolate chip cookies. (Makes my mouth water, just writing this out!)

It’s bizarre I know, but clients earning in excess of a hundred grand a year, drool like little puppies over the prospect of free cookies. $5 worth of cookies was getting Marie a red carpet treatment and more work than she could imagine. Without doubt, her work was exceptional, but then so was the work of her competition. The only tipping point in the game was the cookie factor.

You may not believe that grown, sensible people would be so stupid to fall for what seems to be a quite obvious bait. Yet look around you, the cookie factor is well and alive and bouncing off the walls!

Lookie Mom, There Are Cookies Everywhere!

Look at airline milage points and points that you collect every time you fill gas. Why on earth would you fly the same airline, despite those crazy timetables? Why get gas at that crappy gas station? Or buy pizza from the same pizza place every time?

It’s all thanks to the cookie factor. It’s greed kicking in and wanting something for nothing.

You can see the cookie factor in different dimensions. Here are three main avatars.

1) As An Inducement: Get That Vacuum Cleaner Moving!People buy because of the added factor. They always have and always will. As long as they perceive themselves as getting something for nothing, they will be drawn to it like flies to honey. The cookie factor makes firm believers out of hesitant buyers. Deep in the human psyche is the need for justification. The bonus that they receive fills that space and gets the credit card heated up once more.

2) As a Retention Tool: Stuck Like Glue! The cookie factor is magical for retention. Imagine you had a law firm and you had these free educational training sessions for your clients on a regular basis. What you’re doing is giving away something for nothing. You’re drawing them back like that pizza place does every time. This is a powerful retention tool to get customers back in your airspace. The inducement and the retention factor might look and feel the same, but there is a tiny difference. Inducement is instant gratification, where as with retention, it’s a slow moving process that shows results in loyal customers.

3) As a DeterrentThis is the dark side of the cookie factor– The Darth Vader! 5-year rentals and leases come under this category. The cookie factor is used to get the client in at a low rate, but keeps them hooked into the product or service over a long period of time. When you buy a fridge or a computer, you can get an additional 5 Year Peace of mind by buying into additional guarantees. There is very little real benefit for the user here, but it exists, if only in the dark alleys of your marketing strategy.

Are You Mixing Up The Cookie Factor With The Hot Spot?

If you are, it’s okay. A hotspot in selling, is finding out what is of most interest to the buyer and then going after that interest, often basing the entire sale on that one factor. The cookie factor is a tiny shift away from this thought process.

Let Me Give You An Example

If you were selling a house, a hotspot would be the proverbial cherry tree. The buyer loves the cherry tree, has always wanted a cherry tree and the sale of the home is based on this hotspot. The cookie factor is slightly different. It is a deliberate act of placing cookies to entice the potential buyer to dip into their pockets for a brand new mortgage. I’ve known people who’ve bought houses based on the premise that they get the sofas, work desk or the artwork on the mantelpiece. I’ve known smart real estate agents that have placed this cookie factor as part of the deal and creating interest where boredom exists.

This is the bait, the cookie factor! It draws the customer in and tips them over in your favour. In effect, the cookie factor becomes the hot spot and you’re on your way to a definite sale.

Where’s Your Cookie Factor?

If you look into your business and your marketing strategy, you will certainly find one. When tested online, it was found that sales went up by over 30% by introducing a bonus to the product. If you’re in services, you can offer two or three add-ons at the time of purchase. If you’re selling product, tag on a duvet to a bed sale or a box of stamps with a pen.

Relevance of your cookie factor is extremely important. A recent chain of restaurants offered a free dessert with an order of dessert. Does that really entice you? If you’re going to have a cookie factor, dispense with the stupidity. Make it relevant and valuable and your customers will respond to it in hordes. If your cookies are stale or crumbly, find a garbage can they can call home.

And finally, remember it’s not hard to find a cookie factor in your business. It provides you with additional ammo to make the customer happy. And guess what happens when customers get happy?

Yeah, they buy!

Go out and find your cookie factor.