This Brilliant Marketing Strategy Costs $0.12

Zulie Rane

How a school teacher builds million-dollar businesses on Laffy Taffy.

Alison J. Prince, now the creator of four multi-billion dollar businesses, has a story a lot of us may find familiar: She spent a lot of money getting a degree she wasn’t passionate about, just in order to achieve financial stability. As soon as she got her first job as a teacher, she made so little money that she was actually eligible for food stamps.

This was not her dream. This was not her plan.

With a baby at home and a husband still in school, she had to get inventive.

She turned to online business to bolster her income, setting up an online store selling odds and ends. However, she found it turbulent — earning $300 one day, nothing for the next three days, with no clues what she did right or wrong.

Even as she dug in her cupboards and scrounged in her basement to find old stuff she could sell to help pay off her mortgage, her mind was whirring to find a solution. What could she do to get people’s attention? How could she interest people in things they didn’t need? How could she convince potential shoppers to stop and take a look at her merchandise?

Her solution was cheap, easy, and brilliant: Laffy Taffy.

Get People Off the Highway With Your Llama

One day, she was in the car with her kids. They happened to spot a llama farm and, of course, had to stop and pet the llamas. Here’s the kicker: while they were there, they not only paid the small fee to pet the llamas, but they also filled up on gas and bought some snacks. Overall, they spent $50 on what could have been a $5 stop.

On her way home, it hit her just how strategic a marketing choice that was. Everyone’s selling gas. Everyone’s selling snacks. Nobody else has a llama. That was what pulled her off the freeway and into the gas station. How could she leverage that in her own business?

Of course, llamas are expensive and can’t easily be shipped, so Prince came up with a simple, delicious, and ingenious substitute. She began to ship all her products with Laffy Taffys in them.

We Buy the Experience, Not the Product

Alison J. Prince learned that when she wanted to build relationships with her customers, get true fans of her shops and stand out from everyone else online, she needed to build an experience around her product. There had to be a reason, no matter how small, to get people off the highway and onto her shop.

This small sugary note reverberated through social media and word-of-mouth as people not only bought from her again and again, but shared with their friends and family.

“They [Prince’s customers] filmed videos of their kids running to the front porch tearing through the box to find the candy…They took pics of their favorite Laffy Taffy joke and posted on social about how it brightened their day.” — Alison J. Prince via her blog

Prince was able to create what she described as a “concert” in each box she sold. People spent more than they needed to on products they loved because they liked the experience, just like people would buy expensive concert tickets instead of a CD. She began to construct the first of four empires on sugary sweets and punny jokes, and she never looked back.

And the best part is it only cost her twelve cents per package. Twelve cents to stand out in a saturated marketplace, get her customers’ attention, and build her brand.

When the questions are, “How can I get my customers’ attention? How can I get them to get off the freeway and buy from me?,” the answer might just be to find your llama.

You don’t need to spend millions on a Facebook marketing campaign. You don’t need to buy ads on Google. You just need to find how to make yourself stand out — and it can be as cheap as a twelve-cent piece of Laffy Taffy.

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Content creator, problem solver, psychology enthusiast.

Atlanta, GA

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