MILLION DOLLAR CUP OF WATER
by Joe Bonura, CSP
Free = Freedom
In 1929, with a $3,000 inheritance, Ted Hustead and wife Dorothy
moved to Wall, South Dakota, and opened a small drugstore. The business
showed no growth by 1936, and add a depression, and the Husteads
were on the verge of going out of business.
The End Is Near
Wall, a small town on the Southern outskirts of the Badlands of
South Dakota, was off the beaten path, getting few drive-through
tourists. As they neared the end of their finances, Dorothy suggested
that Ted put a sign on the main highway offering "Free Ice
Water" at Wall Drug.
They Felt the Heat
Instead of putting one sign, Ted put up several signs several miles
apart on route 16A. As tourists left the heat of the Badlands (this
was before air-conditioned cars), they saw the signs, made the small
detour and took advantage of the free ice water offered at Wall
Drug. This simple idea led to a multi-million dollar operation and
worldwide fame for the little drugstore in Wall, South Dakota.
Become a Legend
I grew up in the advertising and marketing business, and Wall Drug
was a legend when it came to great marketing. I had a goal of visiting
the store, and this year that goal became a reality. I was shocked
to see that Wall Drug was not the little corner drugstore that I
had imagined, but a large conglomerate of stores covering several
Set a Good Example
Their success is an excellent example of two things:
One small implemented idea can create massive change.
Free gave them freedom.
The Parking Lot Is Full
Ted certainly could have told Dorothy that he was too tired to
put up signs offering free ice water. Who would have thought that
so many would go out of their way for a free cup of ice water? Tell
that to the drivers of the huge tour buses and to the hundreds of
tourists daily who stop to see what all the commotion is about at
From Free Ice Water to 5-Cent Coffee
Wall Drug offers a cup of coffee for 5-cents, and veterans of the
military can have a free doughnut with a free cup of coffee. Think
about your business: What could you give customers to introduce
them to your business? I send a free E-Zine every thirty days to
remind the recipients that I am still breathing and ready to serve
them. You too can give your clients a sample of what you do; it
is called added value.
I met a friend at a locally owned coffee shop. I suggested the
location because I liked the coffee and the atmosphere. In fact,
I frequented the location at least twice every week. When my friend
arrived, all he wanted was a cup of water, and the server charged
him 20 cents. It left a bad taste in his mouth and a bad taste in
mine. But for the price of a cup of water, they could have made
us both very happy customers. Some people just do not get it. Obviously,
as a result of this incident, I have moved on to another coffee
shop close by.
We love eating at Buca di Beppo because they offer us a $10.00
coupon every thirty days. The value added offer has resulted in
my visiting with them at least once a month where we spend a lot
more than the $10 offer.
Make Someone Happy
McDonald's has been giving kids "Happy Meals" for over
40 years. The "Little Extra" makes a "Big Difference."
(Lagniappe means a little extra - go to my website at www.bonura.com,
click the articles button on the left, and download my free article
Add Value and Grow Your Business
I like to call it "Value Added." What can you do in your
business to give your customer something that will give them a feeling
of value added? It does not have to be much or does not have to
be very expensive; it may be something as simple as a smile. What
can you do to make your customers say, "WOW?" WOWING a
customer is like allowing sunshine to radiate on a plant--it absorbs
the warmth and grows.
© 2012 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.