Of Pirates & Doughnuts: Turn Your Next Transaction Into an Experience

imageDid you know that Friday was “International Talk Like a Pirate Day?” I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. After all, it’s not an official federal holiday. There was no big retail push and banks were open for business. I almost missed out on it myself.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day started as an inside joke between two friends – John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers – from Albany, Oregon. According to the official website (www.talklikeapirate.com), the two were playing racquetball when one of them responded to an injury by shouting “Aaarrr!” They decided then and there that everyone should take one day out of the year to talk like a pirate and claimed September 19, 1995 as the inaugural celebration. It’s gained in popularity every year since.

I learned about the celebration a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon a promotion from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They promised to give anyone who came in and talked like a pirate a free doughnut. If you went so far as to dress like a pirate, they gave you a free dozen doughnuts. So on Friday, my daughter Abby and I stopped by our local Krispy Kreme and walked out with a free box of doughnuts.

What a great promotion by Krispy Kreme. In a time when so many businesses are struggling to attract customers, they found a way to draw people in. And, they adhered to the three elements of a viral campaign I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. All it took for me to participate was a doo rag and an eye patch. I laughed along with the employees and other customers who chose to come in. And because Abby was with me, we now have a great father/daughter memory to share.

What I particularly liked about the Krispy Kreme promotion was the way they involved the customer. Instead of simply issuing a coupon, they asked customers to join them in celebrating. This transformed the act of buying doughnuts from a routine business transaction into a shared experience. It didn’t matter that the holiday wasn’t official. The holiday merely provided an opportunity for some magic to happen.

We typically think of our time with the customer as a transaction rather than an interaction. But any business can conduct transactions. Think about how many places there are to pick up doughnuts. When you move from transaction to interaction, though, you give the customer something extra – something they can’t get anywhere else. Your product may be a commodity, but you aren’t. Customers can’t have the experience of interacting with you anywhere else.

Every time someone walks through your door is a chance for something special to happen. You have the potential to create a shared experience, and a reason for them to come back. Now that’s something to celebrate.

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