SJS Specialty - Promotional Products | Promotional Apparel | East Brunswick NJ

Get More Business By Giving It Away

by: Mike Strycharz, Promotional Products Consultant, Specialty Co., Inc.


There is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive, and an obligation to repay ~Marcel Mauss French Anthropologist

One evening I found myself at a local Chamber of Commerce event. I said hello to an old acquaintance and he offered to buy me a drink. I kindly accepted expecting I would return the favor at some point in the night. He later came up to me and asked if I would like to buy 50 / 50 raffle tickets. I normally see such an endeavor as a waste of money because I never win but I ended up buying $10 worth of raffle tickets. What just happened to me?

The sequence of events laid the groundwork for me to fall victim to one of mankind’s driving forces, The Rule of Reciprocity. The rule states that humans are compelled to repay what another person provided them. It’s hardwired into everyone on the planet and businesses take advantage of it more than you think.

You’ve probably seen this rule in action in the form of a free sample or trial period. But businesses know these “freebies” aren’t free. The returns easily outweigh the cost as seen in my example above. The drink cost $5.00 however I reciprocated in $10 worth of raffle tickets… a 100% return on investment! The Rule of Reciprocity is very powerful and you can incorporate it into your business strategy.

Give something out to your clients or prospects. What should you give? Anything they might perceive as valuable to their situation. Personalizing the act is even more effective. A travel agent bumping a client to a one night deluxe suite or an auto mechanic giving out snowbrushes before a pending snowstorm are good examples. The more sincere the gesture, the bigger urge to repay. The cost of these acts of good will is returned with increased business.

Reciprocity can even come in the form of a concession, specifically a concession in price. The next time someone turns down one of your pricier services you can counter the initial offer with another product or service more reasonably priced. By conceding the original offer, the prospect / client is inclined to comply with the second request. Even if the lower price is refused, you can counter with a third proposal, “I’m sorry I couldn’t have been of help. Perhaps you know someone who might wish to take advantage of this product / service?”.

Be sincere in your delivery as well with your offer. The rule loses it potency if the gesture comes off as a sales tactic. When you do close the sale, maintain that level of indebt by going the extra mile and deliver more than expected. It will not only cement your reputation with good customer service but you’ll see more business out of it as well!


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