Where’s My Biscotti?

There’s this cool little coffee shop in my neighborhood. People love it because sure, the coffee’s great and it’s cozy inside. There’s also a ton of delectable little treats like tarts and pastries. Is that starting to sound a little familiar? The little business voice in your head should be thinking, “Okay, right now you’re describing a ton of coffee shops. What differentiates this one?”

The first time I went in, I asked for what I get at pretty much every coffee shop I ever go to: Just a plain old drip coffee with a ton of cream and sugar. The truth is, I don’t think I actually like coffee. But I do like caffeine. And I really like cream and sugar. What I discovered very early in my coffee journey was that baristas tend to look at you funny if you just request a cup of cream and sugar.

But I digress.

When my first cup of plain ol’ drip arrived from this little coffee place, it came in a generous cup with a matching saucer, and on the side was one of their mini-biscotti. I didn’t ask for it, so I pointed it out to the person behind the counter and they told me it was on the house, they’d just come out of the oven an hour ago and they hoped I liked it.

They didn’t tell me that if I really liked their biscotti, I could get a bag of a couple dozen for twenty-two dollars. Or try to upsell me on any of the other stuff on their menu. It was just a nice little touch they added to try and enhance my experience.

It worked.

Now, every time I go to any other coffee place – which I only do when the circumstances dictate it – I find myself wondering where the biscotti are. Not out of greed or hunger, but as a simple product of human nature.

We all want something extra. A little bonus that makes us feel special. Something we didn’t even ask for, that doesn’t come with strings attached. Generous and intelligent providers will offer these things as freebies. I think about the movie theater that offers you extra butter on your popcorn without charging the extra ten cents. The clothing store that does free on-the-spot hemming and alterations. The full-serve gas station that’ll check your oil while they’re filling your car. I even saw one recently that will check the air in your tires and inflate them if they need it. No charge, no making you swipe your credit card at the air pump and try to rush around to all four tires in the time allotted. Just a useful, helpful bonus that says, “Hey – we realize that you could have gone anywhere, but we’re glad you chose us and we value you.”

Does the project you’re working on now come with biscotti?

You’d be surprised to find the different ways you can come up with your own biscotti to let people know they’re appreciated.

I’ve been doing some work with a company that has a delivery warehouse. Their challenge was finding music to play for their staff that was not only workplace-friendly, but also addressed the various demographic groups among their workers and gave them actual variety. They had been using playlists on YouTube and Spotify, which usually resulted in either a really tight music universe and the same songs over and over again, songs with really inappropriate language in them, or ads that would continue playing forever until someone walked off the line and hit the “Skip Ad” button.

We leveraged the decades I spent building music libraries and rotations for broadcast companies all over the US and Canada, and got to work building what is essentially their own in-house radio station. But that’s the coffee. That’s not the biscotti.

The new music rotation sent a message to the employees that said, “We care about your experience while you’re working, and we hope this little tweak will help you enjoy your time a little more.”

Then we added the biscotti. In two different forms.

First, we gave them a QR code they could scan, which would take them to a request form. There, they could put in song requests for us to add to the rotation. If they wanted to be sure to hear their request, they could also tell us what shifts they usually work, so we could make sure to schedule the song at a time when they were around to hear it.

So now, not only were we giving them a better music experience, we were also giving them a voice in shaping that experience by including what they actually want to hear, instead of making assumptions.

But we weren’t done there.

The company saw the value in the project right out of the gate, and we decided to take the biscotti idea one step further. They have a pretty extensive line of branded swag. Water bottles, hoodies, t-shirts and hats, all kinds of things. We decided to one-up the biscotti by taking every request we’d received over the past two weeks, and drawing a name out of those request forms to give someone their choice of items from the swag lineup.

The result is a warehouse full of staff who are singing along to the music, excited to hear what song is coming up next, talking with each other on the line about their favorite songs and the memories attached to them, and feeling like they have a say in shaping their work environment.

All because we wanted to offer biscotti.

So what’s yours? What’s that thing you can offer your customers or, in this case, your staff and stakeholders, that literally costs them absolutely nothing, and offers you the chance to tell them they matter.

Let’s be clear – biscotti aren’t free to make. Just like this company’s hoodies aren’t free. So there’s a hit to your bottom line to be handing this stuff out for free. But as students in my copywriting course know all too well, it has always been my position that your coupons, freebies and offers should sting a little. If they don’t, then you’re choosing to be less generous than you could be.

Humans like freebies. We like getting something extra that makes us feel special. It’s baked into human nature.

Need help figuring out what your biscotti could be? Send me a note on Twitter – @KNOPPStudios – and let’s figure it out together. No purchase necessary, no strings attached. Just yummy biscotti in all its crunchy goodness.

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