This winter I crashed my car. Totaled. For the first time ever I looked at leasing a new car (I had only bought used up to now because of the whole ‘loses 50% of the value when you drive it off the lot’ thing).
Like a good consumer I did a lot of research. I read up on cars, leasing, all of it. I had my heart set on a Cooper MINI. I’ve always like cars with unusual lines – especially since most makes and models are converging on the Honda Civic body type.
A few months ago I went to my local Cooper MINI dealer and began the courtship. The sales guy was terrific (a shout out to Antonio Silva just in case MINI picks this post up!). He’d come recommended by a friend and I understood why; low pressure, friendly, no rush, took time to explain everything. After three visits and a few test drives I settled on the base model with a few key features. When I picked up my car, I was treated well as might be expcted. My wife was even offered a small jar of candy (they were out of the M&M’s with the MINI logo so we got sweet tarts) and I drove off a happy consumer. The transaction was very pleasant stem to stern.
For most companies, that would be the end of it. Deal closed, money made. CRM from then on out would be the lease invoice and the occasional unmemorable email – maybe a call from the dealer a few weeks later (which MINI did in fact do).
This is where it gets good. Six to eight weeks later, just about the time my new car was feeling like my familiar friend (amazing how quickly novelty can wear off), a package came in the mail. It was a large parcel from MINI and I was perplexed. Did they forget something? Did I? When I opened it, MINI won my jaded marketing heart all over again. The contents of the package were brilliantly laid out and thought out. Here’s was it contained (all, of course, MINI branded):
- A mousepad
- An issue of MINI International magazine
- The Fundamentals of Motoring booklet
- A set of business-card sized ‘gift idea’ cards
- A set of little MINI pithy quote cards to give friends
- A hardbound motoring (travel) journal to record my adventures
- A pen to do said recording
- A big ol’ rubber band – utilitarian, but branded nonetheless
- A couple other cards on business matters like MINI financial
- There was even a paperclip holding everything together – also shaped like a MINI
…Now, none of those items is remarkably new or novel – except, maybe the paperclip which I must admit struck me as very cute. Some of them were downright old fashioned (I don’t think I’ve used a mousepad in ten years). What made the packaging compelling was really the timing. Just as the newness of my MINI was wearing off, they reminded me (again) why I loved my little red car. And it worked. It worked well, in fact. Even the package the parcel came in was smart. Plastic on the outside, it was in fact reversible, the inside (which became the outside) was a branded black canvas bag. It’s reusable eco-friendliness made sense to my MINI-good-gas-mileage sensibility. And best of all, they didn’t mention the eco- angle, I drew that conclusion myself. This is always more gratifying than having the point bluntly hammered into your head.
I realize a MINI is a high-involvement, high-ticket purchase and something of a luxury brand. So it does make sense that they would and can afford to spend more on this stuff. Still, there are smaller brands that also do a great job. I wrote a similar piece about Atayne back in 2009. An athletic apparel brand, they come in at a whole different price point and yet could still afford to be smart.
The point isn’t really what is offered, but if and how that matter. In a social-media enabled world, those little acts of random delight go a long way. People talk to their friends on Facebook about them. They tweet them. They even write blog posts like this one about them.