This is a great entrepreneurial marketing story that should provoke creative thoughts for your business too! First, it’s irreverent and pokes fun at a lot of self-important people, which I like, but perhaps even more importantly, it’s a great example of how having a fun idea and executing on it can produce really great results. Oh, and did I mention that the purveyor of this idea is a friend of mine? Even better.
Yes, it’s a rip-off [parody] of the “Get Out of Jail Free” Chance card from the board game Monopoly, but for Randy Cassingham, it has turned out to be a splendid way to promote his amusing site This Is True and spread the word.
How much has he spread his URL through this means? He just announced that he’s shipped his millionth Get Out Of Hell Free card.
Randy explains how the idea was born:
“My parody “Get Out of Hell Free” cards were introduced as a response to one of my readers who told me I was going to hell for daring to write a 87-word article about the “anti-Christian” topic of feng shui. I told my readers the story and offered them cards too, if they wanted, for the cost of printing, packing and postage…”
Dozens, then hundreds of readers and would-be readers ordered the cards, stickers, t-shirts, and more, and a quick look at Google Images shows that Randy has also inspired various knock-offs too, perhaps the ultimate compliment.
One smart decision Randy made was to sell the cards for his production and shipping cost only. Though he might have thought about slipping in a bit of a profit along the way, he resisted, and as a result the cards are still darn cheap: 50 GOOHF cards are only $5, including shipping.
That’s an important idea because had he have charged, say, $10 for 50 cards, then people would have perhaps thought twice about leaving them for a harried waitress or abused bus driver. But at $0.10/card, well, why not brighten someone’s day, and if it happens to point people to Randy’s This Is True site and creates a new subscriber, well, that’s the point of the exercise, isn’t it?
Randy again: “I didn’t feel a need to make a profit on the cards,” Randy says, “because they all have my URL on them. Rather than create a photograph or video for people to pass around online, I created a real object that I knew would be passed around in the real world. And what’s better in the ‘dotcom’ era than to have your URL spread around?” The customers pay the cost of creating the viral object, he says, and they benefit by the good feelings and message that they pass along with the card. “It’s a terrific win-win,” Randy says. “Not to mention that it works: people wonder who’s behind the card, and they check out the site mentioned there. It has led to a lot of traffic, and a lot of new subscribers to my weekly weird news newsletter.”
I admit, I’ve seen Randy give them out at various events and the response seems to be about 50% befuddlement and curious looks and 50% laughter and great appreciation. Of course, every so often someone likely takes offense at the ostensibly sacrilegious nature of the card, but knowing Randy, that’s probably part of what he likes about the entire concept.
Learn more about the GOOHF cards here: Get Out Of Hell Free.