Finding Your Brand’s Extra Butter

Best butter hack ever? You’d *butter* believe it!

Back in my agency days, I was honored to have a client that was a major movie theater chain — one of the biggest in the U.S., actually. We were developing a loyalty program for them, and running into a LOT of roadblocks. The client had already defined their pro forma for what they wanted to get in terms of revenue and customer lift, but it was really hard to find anything to give moviegoers within the program to make them want to return. Sure there were free tickets and drinks and popcorn, but all those came after lots of trips to the theater and many points acquired. What could we give people every single time they visited, just because they were in the program?

We started asking around within the organization — what do customers always ask for? “Premium seating, sneak peeks of new shows, extra butter on popcorn —” “WAIT, extra butter? You get that a lot?” “Sure,” they would say, “all the time.” “How much does that cost you per person?” “Pennies — maybe just one.” We had found it. Members of the program would get a special perk every single time they visited the theater — extra butter on their popcorn. Better yet, it made moviegoers who didn’t normally buy popcorn actually want to — higher revenue, too!

Every brand out there has something like Extra Butter, if you look hard enough.

You’re looking for something that has HIGH perceptual value among your customers, while actually having a LOW cost within your organization. These are some of your best tools in Marketing, because you can use them as incentives for customers doing things, or rewards for things they’ve already done. They’re fantastic tools for social media; loyalty programs; instant rewards; gamification prizes. In your crayon box, these are the colors that should wear down first.

If you can’t think of your brand’s Extra Butter, here are some good places to search:

Manufacturing Process Parts and Castoffs: more often than not, your customers actually WANT to know how the product is made, or see the tools used to make it. A machinery bit is pretty boring to me, but if I knew it was used to make the aluminum casings of MacBooks, I’d be honored to win it in a sweepstakes!

Unfinished Product: Some brands feel really shy about letting customers see something that isn’t totally done, but again, these objects tell a story about HOW the product is made. One of my clients from agency life made playing cards — and probably the best Extra Butter I’d ever seen. While touring their plant we found uncut sheets of cards, where one sheet would be cut to make an entire deck. How much did these cost? About $0.10. But take those sheets and give them away on social media to new followers? Priceless.

Employee Merch: Without giving away something that would let a customer impersonate an employee, how about one of those recent tchotchkes you made for the work force? Some things should be for your employees alone (so they retain their value with that audience), but lots of times there are things you make for conventions or events that would otherwise go to waste. How about give them to the people that actually want to show off your brand — your best customers!

Digital Flair: Extra Butter ideas don’t always have to be physical things — many times a digital “object” can be just as perceptually valuable, without ever costing you a cent. A special badge in your forum, an unique avatar image only available to a select group, even a special style theme for your site only given to specific people can be incredibly motivating. Reddit does a fantastic job of this with their Reddit Gold program — take a look at what they offer for starter ideas.

My friends, believe it or not, Extra Butter is all around us. It’s cheap (if not free) and an incredibly underused resource. Get out there and start hunting!

Eric Swayne is the Senior Director of Fan Engagement at Funimation / Group 1200 Media, Co-Founder of DrawAttention, and Founder of DataNarrate, a marketing data consultancy. At Funimation his team manages Social Media, Paid Media, Email, Public Relations, and Conventions/Events. In his agency life he worked with clients across ver­ti­cals includ­ing Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Best Buy, HP, Cisco, IBM, Bank of Amer­ica, H-E-B, Super­Valu, Bicycle Playing Cards, Famous Footwear, Texas Instruments, American Airlines and the U.S. Trea­sury. Eric lives in Denton, TX with his wife and three children, and is easily bribed with hand-crafted single-origin coffee, original recipe Dr Pepper, an amazing burger, or free (qualified) babysitting.

This story was originally published on April 4th at