The ROI of Donuts: Big Ideas About Thinking Small

The ROI of Donuts: Big Ideas About Thinking Small

In marketing, we’re always looking for the biggest impact. We want tactics that produce a lot of leads. We want the most traffic to our websites, the most followers on social media, and the largest email lists we can get.

A lot of marketing is a numbers game. With the average conversion for a B2B website being less than 10%, the more visitors we can get to a website, the more potential we have for that visitor to become a new customer.

This is all completely logical, and a good approach to marketing. In fact, it’s how most people approach it.

But there’s some timeless advice that I’ve been reminded of a lot lately that I thought I would share: People do business with people, and sometimes marketers can benefit from efforts that don’t scale.

In other words, the things that you can’t automate or schedule can have real impact for a brand. Every action may not related back to ROI. Salespeople have operated this way for years, going out of their way to entertain customers and prospects to build relationships. Marketers can learn from their success. (There’s more on this topic in our recent video, Building Brand Love in B2B Industries. You should check it out – after you finish reading this blog post, of course.)

Small things like hand-written notes, happy birthday wishes, personalized replies on your customer’s social media posts, and the occasional donut delivery work really well. Of course, the smaller the audience list, the easier it is to think small.

Thinking Small in Marketing

Recently, I was in a kick-off meeting with a new client, and was asking them the typical questions about their current marketing and advertising efforts.

“I would rather buy my prospects donuts than spend a bunch of money on advertising. Everyone loves donuts.”

I’m paraphrasing a little here, but this company simply wants to make the experience of being their customer as fun as it can be. And fun is serious business.

It’s a great reminder that while businesses and brands are hot on the topic of “experience design,” often the efforts that have the most impact can be the simple, but difficult to automate. It just requires caring. Take this small gesture, for example:

My friend Jazzy recently tweeted how excited she was that Warby Parker now had her favorite style frames available in green. Warby Parker simply saw her tweet, and replied back, and it made her day. (They are pretty cool, Jazzy).

Scaling the Unscalable

In Warby Parker’s instance, one personalized, individual reply on Twitter is small thinking. Someone had to take the time to find it, read it, and reply.

And even if your business is not that personal, personalizing little things in marketing can make all the difference. According to Aberdeen, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. Even when done on a mass level though email software, personalization can make marketing more meaningful.

It’s those small actions that build loyal relationships that last for years. All the small things that don’t scale in marketing, are what can scale a business to new heights.

Ask yourself, what is it like to work with your company? Is it fun? Do people look forward to working with you, or do they just do it because they always have? What do you do for them that they’ll tell their coworkers (or friends) about?

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Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski

Mike Spakowski is Principal / Creative Director of Atomicdust and is involved with the day-to-day design strategy, art direction and studio management.

More posts by Mike Spakowski