We have a lovely neighbor named Agnes. Agnes is an expert on…cat treats. In our little community, she is the go-to pet sitter. She has a couple of her own cats and is a big proponent of catching feral cats and having them spayed or neutered.
Whenever she spent time with the late “Slinky” (Tom’s cat), she always came armed with cat treats. Slinky was the epitome of a scaredy cat. He refused to come out from underneath the bed for anyone other than Tom. Not me, not the kids, absolutely nobody – except Tom.
As a cat lover extraordinaire, Agnes made it her mission to coax Slinky out from under the bed and establish a relationship with him. Treats were the number one weapon in her “we are going to be friends no matter what” arsenal. These were especially compelling since I can honestly say that “treat time” was not a regular part of Slinky’s day.
When used strategically, treats can be an effective marketing tool. I think most people associate treats with some type of food or beverage, which is perfectly reasonable. But, treats can also come in the form of… time off, gift cards, events or other non-food experiences. The key to treats is to use them wisely. Do not overuse. Overuse = nothing special. Once a treat moves from unexpected surprise to expectation you have lost the “specialness” of the gesture.
A lot of my readers work in patient care facilities. Any place that relies on human beings to provide care or services to other human beings is subject to waits and delays. That is not a criticism, just a fact of life. While discussing marketing tactics with a business owner – we’ll call him “Chad” – recently, he brought up an excellent example of how he uses “treat” marketing when the waiting room backs up and starts becoming crowded.
He said that now that so many people travel with their own coffee, he does not provide a coffee station in the waiting room anymore. Instead, when he knows they are running behind and people are getting antsy, he walks out into the waiting room and asks his office manager if she would mind going next door and getting some coffee and donuts. She takes the individual coffee orders and brings back treats for the office.
What I loved most about that story is he, as a skilled marketer, realized and appreciated the value of taking a regular old perk (the waiting room coffee station) and turning it into a treat by offering it strategically.
If “Chad” had coffee and donuts out every day, even if they were Krispy Kreme and Starbucks, nobody would feel “treated” if he got behind. The coffee and donut run is, hopefully, a gesture that is appreciated and is not an expectation. Are you strategically using treats? Let me know!