Adam T. Sutton

‘Free Stuff’ Can Lead to Brand Goodwill and Consumer Research

September 2nd, 2008

Getting “free stuff” makes me feel good about a brand. Many of us feel the same way. And all we have to do is give up a phone number or a mailing address.

Free stuff can be anything — tangible items like sandwiches, coffee mugs, and pens; intangibles services like a free cell phone update of a game’s score or a no-obligation car inspection.

Until recently, I thought getting “free stuff” just made me feel better about brands and built marketers’ databases. Then I talked to Marcy Shinder, VP Brand Marketing and Strategy, American Express, OPEN.

Marcy and her team go out of their way to help business owners (their target customers) stay out of the red. They provide a website, books, interviews and more — all loaded with practical business knowledge.

She mentioned a program where a “swat team” of business experts visit with OPEN customers to help them combat a business problem, like rebranding or managing cash flow.

“We have risk managers, finance people, [and others] who are getting together to go out to customer sites and really understand the customers and help them with their needs,” Marcy says. “It is creating a wealth of insight for our employees that’s helping them do their jobs better and is helping OPEN to continue to drive innovation.”

That’s when it hit me.

These businesses get a boatload of free consulting, but they’re also giving free research. The consultants can dig deep into what makes OPEN’s customers tick. They learn what their concerns and challenges are. That’s invaluable market research. And the way the research is gathered positions AmEx OPEN as a brand that cares about businesses.

That’s not only free stuff, but it’s also smart stuff. It takes the free sandwich for your mailing address to a whole new level.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Branding, Research And Measurement Tags: , ,

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.