Help Me Solve a Marketing Mystery

I understand odd combinations. I don’t understand what people sometimes do with odd combinations.

Part of my job involved running Persuasive Design Labs™. These labs help people in big companies design much, much more effective motivation, incentive, and loyalty marketing programs by building for the people in the programs instead of for the brand.

One of our techniques involves rapid-fire idea generation by combining odd things, like television sitcoms and new participants to the program. (It really works.)

What we don’t do is bring the raw ideas to market. We filter and add to them. We combine concepts into higher-order ideas. And we test the concepts.

But if we did just bring the raw ideas to market, we might have come up with this remarkable new product: Fried Chicken and Waffles.

Is your mouth watering? (My mouth waters when I’m about to puke, too.)


Look at the picture on the front. A fried chicken drumstick (good) and a stack of waffles with maple syrup and butter (good).  So what’s not to like?


Who would eat that? To be honest, I had to try them. And they’re terrible. Like when you’re expecting to taste cold vanilla ice cream and it’s actually mashed potatoes. It tasted so bad I got a headache. And nothing smelled right for a couple hours.  (Actually, everything smelled like maple syrup. And chicken.)

Better yet, how did this bag get into my house? (That’s the really frightening question that I’m afraid to ask around here.)

If you’re a big chicken and waffle potato chip fan, I’d love to hear your story. Please comment.

And if you have any idea how this concept got to market—or into my house—please let me know.

Have a Social Media Referral Strategy?


Twitter and facebook can bring  a lot of new customers your way, especially through social referrals. With a little planning and strategy, you can stack the deck to attract new customers who share a lot in common with your best and most loyal customers.

Quick Story

During a program redesign, the topic of referrals came up. I was looking for a place to deploy our new social media referral tools. In the course of the conversation, though, I decided to pull back the referral option.

Why would a proponent of this exciting new technology pull it off the table?

Simple: this program didn't fit the profile for a social media referral strategy.

Social Media Referrals Are Different

If the program were a classic loyalty program aimed at top and near-top customer segments, I’d have pushed on. But this program was more of a promotion aimed at price-driven customers. To illustrate my reasoning, let’s look at the difference between a social media referral and a traditional referral.

The last time I bought a new car, the salesman worked hard to get names of people I knew who needed or wanted a new car. He asked me to give his card and a gift certificate to friends who loved the new vehicle.

This is traditional referral. Get a customer to refer you to people they know who are likely to want whatever they just bought.

But that’s not how social media referrals work.

When I tweet out that I just bought a car from Joe Carr’s Used Cars, thousands of my followers will see it. And they couldn’t care less. No one follows me to find out where I bought my car. They follow me for other reasons.

If I tweeted, however, that "@Joe_Carr_Cars the most honest car dealership in town,” people might pay attention. Followers who appreciate honesty will take note. Likewise, if I tweet that @Joe_Carr_Cars fixed a squeak for free,” people motivated by reliability will take note.

Now, suppose I tweet, "@Joe_Carr_Cars car prices are the cheapest in town-20 percent below Blue Book.” Who will flock to Joe’s? People who value integrity? Maybe. People who treasure reliability? Perhaps. People looking to pay very little? Absolutely.

Social Media Referral Strategy

Simply requiring customers to earn the privilege of referring will improve the quality of referrals you get through social media. For example, “Achieve level 3 to unlock the Referral Tool.” Then give customers the opportunity to earn something of value for their referral efforts. You’ve made the act of referring more interesting while attracting new customers who look like your best customers.