I recently saw an advertisement for a book where the author was placing thousand dollar checks in some of the books that would be mailed out to fill orders. If you were lucky enough to buy the books, then you might find it a profitable venture. Of course, most won’t win, or else selling the books would be unprofitable in the first place. This reminds me of Willy Wonka and his golden tickets. Just find the 5 golden tickets in my Wonka Bars, and you’ll be one of only 5 people in the world to have toured the magical factory. Selling chocolate Wonka Bars, or selling book by creating a gamble aspect to something. a chance to get a higher perceived value than what the purchaser will spend, can be a really great way to sell something. However, like anything, you should know your audience.
If I was selling a book on Blackjack, this might be the best marketing ever. I’m marketing to gamblers, so my marketing being gambling is great. If this was selling a book on gambling addiction, it could go either way. Using the failed gamble of the check in the book to illustrate why they should quit in the book might make for an illustrative example that anyone who purchased the book can share. However, for the few that one, you may have done harm by giving encouragement to a gambling addict who should be quitting.
Something that has hit me over the head again and again has been that marketing ideas can always sound good, but they have inherent assumptions in each of them, and if those don’t fit the audience, then they won’t work well. I had a few social media ideas for LinkedIn for getting engineers’ attention. I quickly realized, out of all professional groups, engineers seem to spend the smallest amount of time on LinkedIn. If this was for salespeople, it probably would have worked. Salespeople spend all day sometimes on LinkedIn.
Generosity works when its the kind of generosity your audience is looking for in the way they are looking for it. If it’s not, you may need to try again. That’s okay. That’s how we learn.