(Not So) Free Tacos!

October 21 2017, 12:38pm

As a marketer, one of the things I enjoy looking at is how others do marketing. Online, marketing is a bit more formulaic with dialed down targeting based on a array of keywords, demographics, and topics. Event and in-person marketing is a little like the wild west where campaigns are really only limited by one's budget. One marketing tactic that I saw used quite frequently at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) was the passing out of vouchers for "free" stuff.

Tacos anyone?

Such a voucher was often redeemed by going to a specific location, waiting in a long line, and filling out a form with contact information. Each step in this process, of course, makes it harder for the participant to leave the queue—much like waiting at a bus stop, the longer you wait, the more you're going to wait. One coupon that I thought was particularly interesting was one that allowed one to get free Jack in the Box tacos.

Although this voucher could be used online away from their main queue, because of the way the distributors were positioned, it made it hard to just get coupon codes and run. More typically, people would rush to get a voucher and then be funneled into a line to win more prizes.

free tacos voucher

In the end, Jack in the Box and Doordash were able to amass 469 tagged posts under #crashingthecon with many more interested people.

How can you take advantage of this tactic?

One of the advantages Doordash and Jack in the Box had going for it is the culture of grabbing as much stuff as possible. Conventions, conferences, and other events that have this sort of culture make it easier for potential customers to eagerly accept vouchers. Include the fact that this coupon is for food and you too can have a high-converting offer.

No one here is going to go out of their way to get a mortgage at an event like Comic-Con (although a brokerage firm did try this two years ago).

Although Doordash might not be as well known, partnering with a big brand certainly helps. Finding a brand that is more well known that you can do partnership marketing with can be a huge boost to the overall success of an event-marketing campaign.

Last but not least, design matters.

Would this voucher have worked if people knew the tacos weren't completely free, upfront? Most likely not. The very intentional design of this coupon made it perfect for what was eventually required. Consider how you can design something portable that fits the theme of the event you're attending. Red and comic-book graphics work at SDCC, but other visualizations might be better elsewhere.

The right offer and sequence of events can result in huge upside. Take advantage of what your target event is about so that you can realize the benefits of your own "(not so) free tacos."

What vouchers have you seen before? Were you moved by them to act?