Marketing Contest: Can You Identify This High Impact Marketing Strategy?

Here in the U.S., we’re heading into the end of summer and many folks are getting in last second vacations and gearing up for a new school year. With this in mind, I thought I would pose a fun marketing quiz and see if you can identify the rather smart high impact marketing strategy in this display ad from Harbor Freight (click to enlarge).

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This particular strategy can be used by ANY business owner in the marketing of ANY business and it’s something of a “game-changer” in its technique.

I’ve got three very cool High Impact Marketing grab-bags I am going to send to the first three winners of this marketing quiz. These valuable grab-bags include a bunch of nifty and valuable tools, gifts and more for those who appreciate my kind of marketing.

To win one of the valuable grab-bags, you must be one of the first three people who identify the specific strategy and reason why the strategy works so well below. Again, in order to be a winner, you must identify and post in the comments section below:

  • The specific marketing strategy
  • The reason why it works

Incomplete or half-answers are not eligible to win one of the grab-bags. So dust off the summer cobwebs (or winter doldrums if you’re in the other half of the globe) and see if you can identify high impact marketing strategy in this ad.

UPDATE AND WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!

CONGRATULATIONS to Jeannette and Stacey for identifying the high impact marketing strategy I wanted to illustrate in this example.

 [ez_box title=”Here’s what Jeannette said:” color=”orange”]

What is smart about this ad is the use of multiple “free” SUPER COUPONS (along with the 20% special offer). Not only does the ad “tell WHY” you get a free gift. I actually love the various free options with purchase. It’s like having multiple free lead magnets/ tripwires (for multiple customer avatars). That was fun:) thanks!

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[ez_box title=”Here’s what Stacey said:” color=”orange”]

The strategy they used was the word FREE — and using it a LOT — lots of FREE STUFF! Everyone loves FREE stuff. And by making it look like a cut-out coupon it makes it interactive and gives people the fun of CHOOSING their free gift. So it’s not just “get free scissors” — it’s pick from these 6 cool things what you want for FREE. It’s a way of making is personalized.

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Here are my insights:

This ad from Harbor Freight does a number of things really well and I want to congratulate and thank everybody who posted their thoughts below. You all had very smart and insightful comments.

Without a doubt – the focus on FREE in this ad is a time-tested strategy to get attention and get somebody to take action. There’s a good chance you have used FREE in your marketing.

But this ad goes one step further and the high impact marketing strategy I wanted you to see is the use of MULTIPLE FREE GIFTs to get the reader involved and to completely change the way a prospect is thinking. Let me explain.

Everybody knows an advertisement is selling something and at a psychological level we tend to go into a defensive mode, even when it’s something we want or believe it.

Offering a free gift to entice somebody to come into your store, location or office is smart and most, if not all, of Harbor Freight ads have a gift in them. Typically one gift, like a flashlight or tape measure.

But what if you don’t need another tape measure or flashlight?

Mentally you would probably dismiss the ad and if you got around to taking advantage of it, great.

By offering MULTIPLE GIFT OPTIONS instead of one, Harbor Freight is changing the conversation you’re having in your head and appealing to different interests and prospects.

Now you’re not thinking about, “do I really need another flash light?” or “is there really anything I need now?”, but instead you’re deciding on which of the gifts you want to get.

It almost feels like it’s your birthday. Which gift to open first…?

According to my friend, Bill Glazer in his book Outrageous Advertising (pages 163 – 166), “Giving a choice of premiums instead of just one is a very powerful marketing technique, which is called INVOLVEMENT. In the case of the choice of premiums, you “involve” the prospect in thinking about which premium he wants versus whether he wants the premium at all. Typically involving the prospect will increase response even more.”

See how powerful this strategy is?

As a prospect, reading this ad, I am not thinking about whether or not I will ever go into a Harbor Freight store.

I am thinking about what gift I want to pick first, cutting it out, getting a 20% discount and getting to the closest store to me.

Giving people choices, especially with things like bonus gifts, premiums, etc. gets them involved and shifts them from defensive mode to involvement mode. If you’re currently single premium strategy, trying adding at least two more to the mix and see what happens!

About Mike Capuzzi

Mike is a publisher, Amazon # best-selling author, and coach for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders looking to stand out from the competition by authoring, publishing and leveraging short, helpful books. He is the author of 19 books, including two Amazon #1 Best Sellers. Learn more about his publishing opportunities at BiteSizedBooks.com.

38 Comments

  1. Justyn on August 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Looks like they are giving away lower priced items at a complete loss to bring in customers and build loyalty to sell higher priced complimentary products on the backend. When someone gets something for free initially, they may feel like the discounts on the other items they’re buying are more significant.

  2. Richard Low on August 19, 2014 at 8:45 am

    The specific marketing strategy – showing the original price but with a strike through and then the new price in a handwriting font + those 2 boxes are angled

    The reason why it works – The angled boxes just draws attention

  3. Sweetie on August 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

    It’s in full color

  4. Sweetie on August 19, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Should have said coupons not color

  5. Neil Sutton on August 19, 2014 at 8:56 am

    They answer the ‘reason why’ of the free gifts, helping to assign a value to the freebies, since most prospects tend to associate ‘free’ with cheap stuff.

  6. Ed Turner on August 19, 2014 at 9:01 am

    The first things they are doing that i like is gifting coupons to create additional perceived value so the customer will likely head in to claim the gift and feel like they have got a great deal in addition to the 20% off so they will feel like they can spend more so the store owner will more than likely get a higher av $ sale from this campaign.
    Second with the cut out coupons the catalogue has created the store can accurately measure the redemptions and ROI on the campaign and what product pulled the most redemptions for later marketing campaigns.

    • Mike Capuzzi on August 19, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Ed – good points! The tracking ability of the good, old cut-out coupon is not to be minimized. Not the strategy I am thinking about, but a good one nonetheless.

  7. Mike on August 19, 2014 at 9:05 am

    The strategy is the use of “free,” displayed prominently throughout. It works because “free” grabs attention.

  8. Steve on August 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Obviously the word Free is the headline and repeated all over the page with many types of free items to draw in the customer, plus the added bonus of 20% off

  9. Gene on August 19, 2014 at 9:20 am

    They have several options to get free gifts. And to make it even better they give a reason why. Which, as Robert Cialdini points out in his book, is very effective.

    When someone redeems the coupons it…

    -Allows them to track their advertising
    -Gets the person in the store (this is a BIG one)
    -Gives them more opportunity to sell them something else

    Hopefully they are capturing contact information as well when you redeem the coupon.

    I also notice an expiration date (deadline) in the fine print. It’s in December though. Good that they have one, but I’d wouldn’t make it as far away.

    They also did a good job with giving a value of each of the free gifts.

  10. jonny on August 19, 2014 at 9:25 am

    The marketing strategy is free gift. It gets people who are actually interested in your product (in this case hardware) into the store. This ad is for gift with purchase so they have to actually buy something. And a buyer is a buyer is a buyer.

  11. Jeff Coil on August 19, 2014 at 9:27 am

    1. Attention grabbing headline
    2. Guarantee at bottom of page
    3. “Why” question in the free headline block is a sub headline to keep the reader engaged

  12. Daryl Thompson on August 19, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Hi Mike,

    Other than the obvious allure of “FREE” gifts everywhere, I think the dotted outline of the coupons serves as an “involvement device” to get folks even more interested in cutting out the coupons and bringing them into the store..

    Am I close?

    Thanks,

    Daryl

    • Mike Capuzzi on August 19, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Daryl – kinda close… indeed a good strategy, but not the one I am focused on for this piece.

  13. Stacey Riska on August 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

    The strategy they used was the word FREE — and using it a LOT — lots of FREE STUFF! Everyone loves FREE stuff. And by making it look like a cut-out coupon it makes it interactive and gives people the fun of CHOOSING their free gift. So it’s not just “get free scissors” — it’s pick from these 6 cool things what you want for FREE. It’s a way of making is personalized.

  14. Craig Valine on August 19, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Two things catch my attention:

    1. The ‘Reasons Why’ copy for “Why a Free Gift?” overcomes the thoughts of, “What are they trying to pull?”

    2. Four bullet points on the bottom ‘Removing the Risk’

    That’s all I’ve got.

    Thanks Mike!
    Craig

  15. Joe on August 19, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hi Mike, I noticed the ad utilized a small block of “reason why” copy to explain why the discounts were being offered. Not sure if that’s the answer but seems like smart marketing.

  16. Joe on August 19, 2014 at 10:42 am

    TOP Marketing Strategies:

    1) Loss leaders to draw traffic – FREE is powerful
    2) 100% Satisfaction Guarantee – No Risk Buying
    3) Attention grabbing headline
    4) Use of red doodle type writing for markdowns for attention grabbing that catches eyes
    5) Testimonials – (25 million satisfied customers)

  17. Frank on August 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

    A bribe with a reason why… they have so much faith in their products that they are willing to give you free gifts just to see how great they are.

    Harbor Freight is known for low prices, not so much for high quality, but they believe in their products and will bribe you to try them in the hope that you’ll be hooked.

  18. David on August 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

    This ad was designed to be kept long term and keep people coming back to the store. The coupons do not expire until December 10 and you are only allowed to use one a day. So there is a bigger chance that the customer will keep the add in a drawer until he needs another tool so he can either use the 20% discount or get another free tool from that store. If they were short term and only allowed to redeem one per customer period the add would not have any long term value to it.

  19. David Love on August 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Specific Strategy: Gift with purchase.
    Reason it works: Everyone wants something for nothing. FREE is still the most powerful word in advertising.

  20. Mike Capuzzi on August 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Great answers so far and a few close ones, but nobody has the exact marketing strategy I think this ad uses so well. Keep on trying

  21. Neil Sutton on August 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    High Impact Marketing Building Block #21: “High Impact Marketing Removes Perceived Risk!”

    In the yellow block at the bottom of the ad, they provide several points about their guarantee and social proof (“25 million satisfied customers”).

    Reason why it works… It lets the customers know the company is reliable, and will stand behind their products.

    • Mike Capuzzi on August 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Neil – that is not the strategy I want to focus on, but nice job mentioning the High Impact Marketing Manifesto :-).

  22. JB Heer on August 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Reason why copy

  23. James on August 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I like the use of the law of reciprocity in the free gifts and the attention grabbing of the twisted styled coupons combined with a no hassle guarantee but beyond that I can’t really an strategy.

  24. Scott on August 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I have the benefit of reading the previous posts. And since no one has quite hit the mark you are looking for I have pondered this a bit more. So here is my take. The best copy in the world is no good if no one reads it. My eye was drawn to the two coupons that are crooked – or look like they have already been cut out – on the bottom left. This simple eye-catching device would probably have made me pause long enough to read the ad..

  25. JG on August 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Hi Mike,
    What is smart about this ad is the use of multiple “free” SUPER COUPONS (along with the 20% special offer).

    Not only does the ad “tell WHY” you get a free gift..

    I actually love the various free options with purchase.

    It’s like having multiple free lead magnets/ tripwires (for multiple customer avatars).

    That was fun:) thanks!

  26. NICOLAS HERNANDEZ on August 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I think the most important thing about this ad is: “FREE GIFTS & 20% OFF” your flipping through the newspaper and you get interrupted by the headline, it really jumps out and “Grabs” the attention of the customer. Then it engages the customer’s interest by answering the question, Why? Great quality and ridiculously low prices. Third, COUPONS!, Shows the customer exactly why HARBOR FREIGHT is the logical choice, and finally! 100% satisfaction guaranteed! But, the phrase. “Over 25 million satisfied customers”, now that’s big, shows 25 million customers can’t be WRONG!

  27. Petru on August 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Not sure if this is the strategy you are referring to, but I will take a guess. Their strategy is to use the 2-step selling method. Not necessarily selling directly from the ad, but offering a free item to get the name, email and information of the prospects. Then, they will continue to sell to that prospect because the lifetime value is what it matters to them.

  28. Mark on August 19, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    1. Strong Headline
    2. Strong guarantee
    3. Social proof

  29. John on August 19, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I think it is a simple as “Gift with Purchase” strategy with tiered offerings of higher perceived value the more a customer spends.

  30. Gilad on August 20, 2014 at 1:17 am

    “FREE” offers are, in essence, gift with purchase and does not apply when coupons/discounts are used. Just another way of positioning a form of a self liquidating offer.

    While it works well for the buyer because they get something useful for “free”, it works well for the merchant because those are high margin products that are tied into a full-price purchase. It can easily become a determinant factor for whether one would buy his tool at Harbor Freight vs the “other guy”.

  31. Alan Steacy on August 20, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Spelling out the “Reason Why” they are offering a free gift is smart advertising.

  32. Lorraine on August 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

    The question asked in the ad is “Why a Free Gift”? This makes peoples subconsciously ask the question…Why a Free Gift? And the answer given to the reader is Great Quality, Ridiculously low prices, and much more importantly “You’ll Never Buy Tools Anywhere Else”! The reader has been told that this is the store where you must buy the tools. Mike I would be interested in your comment.

    • Mike Capuzzi on August 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Lorraine – thank you for your note. I will post my analysis of the smart marketing strategy tomorrow. As far as I can tell, two people have identified the strategy so far.

  33. Jim on August 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    The involvement in the ad, the figuring out the why and the physical cutting of the coupons. The person comes to the conclusion themselves that this is the smart thing to do.

  34. David Hunter on August 28, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Looks like I’m late to the party…

    I love Harbor Freight’s ads! Not only do they know what they’re doing, they advertise everywhere! You can’t hide from them if you tried.

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