5 weird, wacky and bizarre offers that work

We’re all familiar with the promotional offers that have proven themselves to engage audiences and increase response rate over the years. Most of them are probably in your mailbox or inbox right now. But what you may not have seen are the weirder, wackier, and more outlandish versions of these offers that companies and individuals have come up with.

First, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of these successful offers:

  • Free Trial. A customer can try out your product free and without obligation for a specified number of days. It removes risk for the prospect, overcomes inertia, and works with just about any product.
  • Money-Back Guarantee. A customer pays upfront but, if dissatisfied, can return the item for a refund. Like the free trial, this offer removes risk but allows you to use inertia to your benefit since few people will bother to return something.
  • Free Gift. Freebies that customers want usually out-pull a discount of similar value. That’s because a gift is a more tangible benefit. It also has the advantage of not devaluing your product with a price reduction.
  • Limited Time. An offer with a time limit gets more response than an offer without one. You can display an exact date or suggest a response time frame, such as 14 days or 30 days. It works because it forces a decision and an action, often in your favor.
  • Sweepstakes. This increases your order volume if you’re selling easy-to-understand impulse items.

And without further ado, enjoy these clever, albeit it sometimes wacky ways to employ each of these offers:

#1. Free Trial: The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches

The $10 The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches make-money book sold a cool 3 million copies in the mid 1970s, due to the genius of one man, Joe Karbo. Joe was “so sure that you will make money with my Lazy Man’s Way” that he made “the world’s most unusual guarantee.” He promised not to “even cash your check or money order for 31 days after I’ve sent you my material.” The ad ran worldwide and even appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Joe reeled readers in with a knockout headline “Too busy earning a living to make any money?” It’s like punch to the gut. Not only will most people relate to it, they’ll feel it at a deep level. Interestingly, the ad only taunts you with the possibilities of untold wealth, and never gives you any details about how it might be possible or what you’re going to have to do. You can read the rest of Joe’s original ad here.

#2. Money-Back Guarantee: Pizza in 30 minutes or less… or it’s free

Back in the day, Domino’s became famous for its unique 30 minutes or less… or it’s free delivery promotion. This little guarantee put a struggling pizza chain on the map by playing into a simple human need: hunger. Sure, there may be better pizza out there, but when home and hungry, many people opted for a guaranteed delivery timeframe over the “best pizza” that might take an hour to get. The added benefit: if they didn’t deliver, you didn’t pay. Simple, to the point, easy to understand. It worked like a charm until Domino’s had to stop in 1993 because of an auto injury lawsuit. And until recently, Domino’s rode that success in spite of delivering, at whatever speed, a pretty bad pizza. Still, today, more than 1 million people in 50 countries worldwide eat Domino’s pizza.

#3. Free gift: Buy tires, get free beef.

Once a year for 47 years, Les Schwab, a regional tire store chain, gives away free beef to those who buy tires. Although quirky, the tradition began for a good reason. Les Schwab started the giveaway to support his customer base—farmers and ranchers—when times were tough. The fresh meat is purchased locally for the stores so the idea of focusing on customers and community remains strong after 47 years.

#4. Sweepstakes: TP for a year.

Last summer, employee-owned grocery store Hy-Vee launched a contest called Everyday Giveaway Sweepstakes. All you needed to do to win was simply visit the website each day and enter for a chance to win something fun. My favorite of their prizes was Free Toilet Paper for a Year, which was awarded as an $80 Hy-Vee gift card.

#5. Limited Time: Hire me now or it’ll cost you extra.

Many offers are constructed using the limited-time method to force a decision to purchase, but how many intreprid job applicants have used it as a ploy to get an interview, or even get hired? Well, the advice from Collegegrad.com is to do just that. They suggest that one way to entice unresponsive employers to interview you is to schedule a visit to their area, then call them again to let them know that you plan to be in the area and offer them the chance to interview you during your stay. If they still don’t bite, “remind them that you will only be in the area a short time, after which, there would, of course, be travel expenses involved in getting together.” In other words, your limited-time visit could save them hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. Pretty crafty.

Bonus Round. Freebie, sort of: The All-You-Can Eat Ballgame.

If you’re a baseball fan that loves Dollar Dog Day then the All-You-Can Eat package many teams are offering is downright thrilling. Ranging from $30-$45, All-You-Can Eat sections have been designated by the Athletics, Orioles, Rangers, Royals, Braves, Dodgers and Padres for fans hungry for more than just watching the game. (Remember, it’s all you can eat, not all you want to eat. Act accordingly.)

Double Bonus Round: What I wouldn’t do for $5.

Don’t miss Fiverr, the site that features all the crazy, weird things people are willing to do for five bucks. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas for your next offer.