Making marketing personal

A lesson from a tip jar at a beach-side snack bar

The college students using a tip jar I came across this summer at a beach-side snack bar could have simply created a sign that said “Tips appreciated,” like so many I see.

Or, they could have stopped writing their sign at “Tips. AKA College Fund,” letting everyone know what the money would be used for, which may have resulted in more people contributing than if they’d simply written “Tips.”

But they took a simple extra step beyond these and made it personal, creating a far more powerful marketing message in the process.

The students added a line to their tip jar sign, right below where they said it would be used for tuition, listing the names of the ten colleges they attend.

Now, anytime a customer looks at it, they might see a place they went to school, the college a son or daughter goes to, their best friend’s alma mater, a campus and town they’ve always loved visiting, a school back in their home state, or any number of other things that might mean something to them and make them more inclined to put some money in the jar.

Meaning. That’s the key. And it’s about establishing a connection. It’s about inducing a feeling, relating something to the customer.

The students took their message to another level. As I told them before I snapped the picture above, “This might be the best tip jar I’ve ever seen!”

I’m attempting to write on Medium every day through the end of 2016. Here’s the previous post, the fourth in the series:

To keep up with all my posts in this series, hit the “Follow” button by my profile at the bottom of this post. And please consider hitting the heart button on this story if you enjoyed it and think others might too.

You can also find me on Instagram, Spotify (that link goes to a four-song EP of mine called Level) and Twitter.