A Strange But Very Clever Marketing Trick

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August 21, 2013 by Colin Kelly

On the face of it this seems daft.

A large bottle of water and a newspaper costs less than a small bottle of water on its own.

But that’s what WHSmith are offering and have been for a while.

The newspaper is the Daily Telegraph and the water is Buxton.

Why are they doing this and who benefits?

It’s actually a very clever move to boost newspaper sales.

If everyone who wanted to buy a bottle of water actually bought a newspaper instead, sales would grow.

And that’s what they’re doing.

I wanted the water. But I ended up buying a newspaper, and the newspaper gave me the water, free.

The only hassle is I’ve now got a huge bottle and a broadsheet paper to lug around with me all day.

The Telegraph will always be up against it in Scotland, but this special offer at least got me to try their product. And it means I’m spending time with them rather than the Scotsman or Herald.

At least the Telegraph is fighting and the business section seems pretty good.

What’s the lesson for the rest of us?

If people won’t buy your product, figure out what they are buying instead at a similar or lesser value, and give them it, as a goodwill gesture when they buy your product.

Now you’re making sales and getting your product out there. It’s less wasteful than marketing where you spend money to reach people, some of whom will never buy.

This way, everyone buys, but you’re underwriting the cost of the sale.

That might work out even cheaper than marketing.

But how long can you sustain this? That depends on the value of the customer to you and your partners.

Is a new Daily Telegraph reader worth a bottle of water? What do Telegraph advertisers think? The cost of this promotion might be offset by increased advertising rates. It might be costing the newspaper nothing at all.

Anything is better than a newspaper sitting on a shelf all day. Newspapers go off very quickly.

It starts with figuring out what your objective is. Increasing sales? Increasing footfall? Increasing profits? New customers? Or more from existing customers?

There are lots of different ways to play the game.

The important thing is to do something.

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