Guz, the proprietor of a restaurant and bar in Sydney, was facing a common business problem. There were days and times that were quiet, too quiet. So much so that it was getting tough to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, we had a gourmet Ceylon tea brand that was struggling. We were in a bunch of great stores but we weren’t getting enough sales to make ends meet. It was hard to get noticed on a shelf full of different products and even when we were noticed, it was hard to be remembered enough to make a repeat sale.

We decided to cut our losses and started handing out our tea for free in order to clear out a costly warehouse. This is where things got interesting. When handing out the tea to people, they would ask why. Then they would express gratitude. They felt compelled to learn more about us and started asking questions. Some even felt compelled to give back or help in some manner. The act of giving generated good will.

Good will was great, but it wasn’t helping solve our problem of not generating enough cash. Every entrepreneur knows that cash in needs to be more than cash out to survive. We got introduced to Guz. We have nothing but respect for entrepreneurs – they take a risk, they give it a go. They don’t die wondering. We proposed an idea to help each other. It ended up saving us both.

Here’s what we did. It was simple, low-cost, yet amazingly powerful.

We placed our gourmet leaf tea in disposable trays along with a nice tea pot. We added some marketing material in the trays about Guz’s venue and included a few coupons. We then delivered the trays of gourmet tea as gifts to offices close by. Guz paid for the tea. The end result was Guz filled up his restaurant and bar. He even got a kiss on the cheek for being so generous. The idea worked so well, we ended up doing it with about 40 other venues until we cleared our warehouse! Everyone won.

Here’s the learning that you can apply to your business.

When you give something of value you will receive undivided and often intense attention. It is human instinct to react that way and even want to give back. If you include an offer while you have this attention, it is likely to be accepted. In the very least it will be evaluated and may be passed on to others that are likely to accept it.

Try it. What have you got to lose. Give it a go with anything. Most businesses simply try to lure people back by offering something only if the customer first buys something. This is old school. It may work, but it’s not powerful. Be different, offer something first and see how much more powerful that is. You will be amazed. And best of all, it’s fun. In fact, it’s a pleasure for both giver and receiver. Heaven knows it saved our businesses.

Fast forward to today, and here’s what we’re doing now.

The tea idea morphed into this over time. We’re now giving away fun and money – of course in a sustainable manner. Check it out. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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