How to make more money by giving stuff away: 3 keys to economical promotional giveaways

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko continues to roll out to forward-thinking Boston-area businesses as we expand our Free Beta Program.   As we spend every waking hour talking to businesses about how to make more money with Bozuko, 2 things have happened.  First, we have less time to blog (sorry for the long delay between posts). Second, we have had the chance to speak to a lot of marketers and business owners about what goes into a great promotional giveaway.  While every business is different, the following 3 key basic ideas from micro-economics are universal:

1. Keep variable costs of your giveaway low.  This does not mean you should be cheap – just that you should think creatively about what you can give away that does not cost substantially more than the additional revenue you would add from attracting a new customer.  For some businesses, it could be a free iPad.  For others it could be a $1 Amazon song download.

The best giveaways are those that cost you NOTHING in terms of variable cost.  Free movie ticket, Free Yoga Class, No Cover charge, Free parking.  All of these things may represent lost revenue opportunity, but didn’t cost you a thing.  Free fountain soda, upgrade from small to large pizza, upgrade from standard to deluxe car wash, may cost a few cents.  If you brainstorm for a few minutes, you will find something valuable you can giveaway that doesn’t take much – if any – money out of your pocket.

“But wait,” you may ask, “why would I want to miss out on that revenue?”  The only rational reason is that if you CAN MAKE MORE MONEY by doing so.  This is possible if your promotion is so fun that it encourages people to come back regardless of whether they won or lost.  Even cooler, is when you design your promotional giveaways to drag revenue from complementary goods.

2. Drag revenue from complementary goods.  Many things that you give away are destined to be consumed with complimentary goods.  For instance if you give away 1 free movie pass – odds are that person will bring a friend (paying full price).  And they certainly are likely to buy a popcorn and soda (at full price).  Or you give away 1 free large popcorn – which is physically impossible to consume without a beverage (purchased at full price).  A pub gives away free hot wings – requiring (full priced) beer.   There are many examples of how to leverage complementary goods in building profit into promotional giveaways.  If necessary, you can force complements within the prize description – e.g. free coke with purchase of large sub.

While giving something away may mean lost revenue opportunity if that person was going to buy the product anyway, you can ensure that each giveaway actually drags along profitable business.  If you find the right formula, you can afford to increase the number of giveaways which will make your campaign even more exciting and lead to more customers who come just to play.

3. Give away something – don’t discount your core product.  One of the well known drawbacks of discounts is that customers get trained to expect them.  It is better to give something away entirely than it is to offer “50% off.”  If you can’t give away something in its entirety, give away a set amount of credit.  $25 of free merchandise with purchase of $25 or more.    Or, buy 1, get 1 free.  Groupon has started doing this with most of their deals because one of their (many) criticisms was that they train their new-found consumers to expect a very low price making it hard to convert them to full paying customers.  You want your customers who win a prize to return because 1) they had a great experience and 2) they have a chance to win again.

There are other elements to a great promotion.  Great promotions need to be fun, need to leverage your brand, and need to tap into social networks  – all of which we believe Bozuko is unparalleled in its ability to help you with.  Use these 3 keys to economical giveaways to design great Bozuko promotions.

If you are having trouble thinking of what to give away, let us know (by emailing or replying to this blog) and we’d be glad to brainstorm.

If you haven’t checked out our free mobile app for iPhone and Android yet, you need to.  If you are a business and you haven’t checked out our Free Beta Program, you need to.  Even if you are not ready to launch a campaign, just play with our easy-to-use campaign builder and let us know what you think (you need to be an admin of a Facebook page with a place associated with it).

Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.



Press Release: Bozuko Connects Businesses to Customers with Instant Win Games on Mobile Phones

By: Jack Winston

Bozuko issued its first press release this morning, announcing the expansion of our Beta program.  Bozuko Beta is now available for free to anyone who wants to try it out between now and November 30, 2011.  Click here to give it a try.  Read on for details of the release.


Bozuko makes mobile – social marketing campaigns simple, affordable, and virally addictive.

MEDFORD, Massachusetts, October 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Bozuko, Inc., whose platform lets brands and businesses build marketing promotions based on instant win games for mobile phones, today announced that Bozuko Beta is now publicly available.  In 2 months of private Beta with eight Boston-area businesses, the Bozuko App has been downloaded by over 2000 users who have played over 60,000 times, winning close to 5000 prizes.

“We built Bozuko to enable social-mobile-location based marketing promotions that appeal to mainstream smart phone users,” said Jake Epstein, CEO of Bozuko. “We saw businesses wanting to build their social media presence and customers craving something to do on their smart phones, but at the same time we saw limited engagement with existing location-based platforms.  Bozuko taps into the widespread appeal of instant win games with a platform that lets businesses build fun, mobile marketing campaigns as simply as they would create online party invitations.”

Bozuko’s early Beta customers range from restaurants to parking garages to gas stations to sports venues.  Minor League Baseball team, The Lowell Spinners, launched a Bozuko campaign in August.  “We are always looking to reach new consumers and realize the important role social media plays in expanding our customer base,” said Jon Boswell, Director of Media Relations for the Spinners.  “Bozuko has allowed us to generate over 200,000 appearances in Facebook news feeds as fans played to win Spinners’ prizes. Our likes increased and our check-ins jumped exponentially.  With consumers placing increasing value on word-of-mouth recommendations, Bozuko allowed us to substantially increase our social presence”

With Bozuko Beta publicly available, businesses can use the basic service through November 30th for free.  After the beta period, there will be a free version and a premium service for more customized campaigns.  For more information on Bozuko Beta, email or login to Bozuko to launch your own game

The Bozuko App is free in the iPhone and Android stores. 

About Bozuko

Bozuko connects brands and businesses with their customers through instant win games on smart phones.  Offering a simple to use, online game builder and free iPhone and Android Apps, Bozuko simplifies the process of running social network integrated, location-aware, mobile marketing campaigns.  For more information about Massachusetts-based Bozuko, visit


5 Basic Mobile Marketing Tactics for Brands and Businesses

By: Jack Winston

Connecting with your customers on their smart phones is no longer cutting edge – it is basic business.  Big brands are spending big money on mobile marketing strategies.  From SMS marketing campaigns, to advertisements on mobile ad networks, to custom developed apps, businesses will spend well over $1B in 2011 on mobile marketing. While big mobile marketing campaigns can deliver big returns, they can require big budgets and lots of hand holding to be effective.

The growth of smart phone use has increased the importance of mobile marketing with 1) Location based services enabling users to more easily identify nearby businesses of interest (and businesses to better target nearby users); 2) social networking tools offering apps optimized for mobile browsing; and 3) internet enabled phones that enable users to check email and surf the web while on the go.   Location based businesses in particular need to be considering how to connect with their customers on their mobile phones.  Here are some basic tactics to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy without breaking the bank.

1.  Mobile optimize your email newsletters
In 2011, consumers are spending more time surfing and checking email on their phone than they do on their computer.  If you regularly send an email newsletter, take the time to consider how it looks on an iPhone and Android.  Optimizing email for mobile is a bit of an art, but some basic design strategies will prevent you from delivering a message that is unreadable on common mobile devices.  This blog from Bronto offers some basic strategies for email design.  In short, keep your newsletter simple – light on images, heavy on well written, interesting content.  Good email newsletters are great marketing.  But if you don’t currently have one, instead of spending your time ramping up a good one, consider first scaling up your Facebook posting activity and mobile optimizing your website.

2. Keep up a steady stream of activity on Facebook
A May 2011 study from Flurry Analytics showed that smart phone users spend approximately 1/3 of their mobile surfing time on social networking apps like Facebook.  Once a business or brand invests in building a healthy fanbase, they need to keep them engaged with regular, interesting, and valuable news feed posts.   Make sure you are getting your share of your customers’ attention as they play with Facebook on their mobile phones.

3. Claim your Google place
Google maps is one of most popular location enabled apps out there.  Increasingly, it is how smart phone users search for nearby businesses, evaluate their options, and plan where to go.  Businesses can claim their Google places entry for free  - customizing their entry with offers, video and most importantly, a link to their website.  The ability to impress potential customers with a well designed, helpful, mobile optimized website can differentiate you from the competitor down the street that has not spent the time to claim their place.

4. Mobile optimize your website
Again, users are spending more time surfing on their mobile devices than they are on their computers.  You need to make sure your website is readable on smart phone screens.  If you outsource the development of your site, consider creating a mobile version that is the default for mobile phone users.  If not, make sure your site avoids common mobile pitfalls – no flash, light on images, and clearly defined navigation designed for touch screens.

5. Engage your customers on their phones when they are at your business
Consider whether your business lends itself toward running mobile based promotions for on-location or nearby customers.  Apps like Shopkick can create new incentives for browsing your merchandise.  Game based apps like Scvngr can give your customers new reasons to visit your store.  Discounts and deals from Foursquare and Google can leverage location to present promotional discounts and loyalty programs to potential customers.  And there is this genius new concept from Bozuko that lets a business create simple instant win games that give in-store or nearby customers the chance to win prizes in return for Liking the business or checking in on Facebook.

No matter what type of business or brand you are marketing, you need to think mobile.  These basic tactics are great starting points for smaller businesses not yet thinking mobile as well as must-haves for larger businesses already experimenting with more sophisticated mobile campaigns.

Bozuko continues to roll out in the greater Boston area by invitation only.  New this week, stop by to gas up at the Route 128 Gulf stations in Newton and Lexington and play for a chance to win great prizes.

Visit Bozuko for Business to learn more about how we are helping businesses get more out of their promotions dollar. Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Download our iPhone or Android apps today for a chance to win some great prizes.

What happened to checking in on Facebook?

By: Jack Winston

So, I was in the middle of pulling together a blog post this past week on the future of location check-ins when Facebook delivers the news that they are dropping their version of check-ins in their new version of their mobile app for smartphones.  After almost exactly one year since announcing Places, Facebook announcing they are phasing out the check-ins in favor of allowing users to tag their location to comments they make on the Facebook mobile app.  Additionally, they are rolling out changes to their privacy settings that let users more easily control who sees their location updates.  Things move fast in the world of social-location-mobile marketing.

For businesses who had been interested in driving Facebook check-ins, all this means is that instead of your customers posting:

They will post something like:

This is similar to the way twitter works today.  The challenge will be to get users to spend the extra few minutes to comment (hopefully positively) about their business.   This does not radically change the way Bozuko or other apps that leverage Facebook’s user network and business pages.  When “checking-in” using Bozuko, instead of creating a post like:

we will create a post:

Customers playing Bozuko at your business will still broadcast their interest to their friends.  One of our theories at Bozuko is that customers are more willing to engage with businesses via Facebook when 1) they are in the store and 2) you offer something valuable to them.  It is not all that surprising that Facebook felt there was insufficient usage of places to justify continue supporting on their app, because users got little value from just checking in.

So what about the apps like Foursquare, GoWalla, and Google+ still support check-ins?  Over time, Bozuko will consider supporting additional applications.  For now, we believe that the 750 Million global Facebook users and the well established infrastructure for businesses to develop Pages to connect with their customers is worth us focusing on.

Bozuko continues to roll out in the greater Boston area by invitation only.  Last week we launched at: Margaritas in Lexington, the Sea Dog Brew Pub in Woburn, and Laz Parking at 125 Summer Street.

Visit Bozuko for Business to learn more about how we are helping businesses get more out of their promotions dollar. Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Download our iPhone or Android apps today for a chance to win some great prizes.

Promotions strategy when discounting doesn’t make sense

By: Jack Winston

The hype over group discounting, daily deals, and location-based, deal-finding services has focused new attention on a well established promotional tool. Offering discounts to attract new customers or reward loyalty has been a staple of promotional marketing for over a century (discounts were originally used to attract new customers to aspiring young brands including Coca-Cola and Grape Nuts Cereal). While location aware discounts on your mobile phone do enhance the promotion by being more focused and timely, discounting has the same economic implications as it always has. You should only offer discounts if either:

1) The short-term increase in business generates more profits at the reduced price than the steady state profits at normal prices


2) The long term business from new customers acquired by the discount promotion justifies a short-term dip in profits.

Another important promotional marketing concept is the fact that in certain businesses, discounting your primary product or service just doesn’t make sense.

Take gas stations for example. The economics of retail gas sales simply do not justify deep discounts to a station’s standard pricing. A given station will set a pricing strategy that takes into account variables including the daily spot price of crude oil, station/location specific markups, nearby competitive pricing, and convenience premiums (that is, does your station have a Dunkin-Donuts that calls to me as I drive by). Offering a steep discount to your standard gas price may temporarily lure in more customers, but unless you have something compelling to keep them coming back, they have no reason to return once the promotion ends.

For many businesses, driving a short term increase in business through a deep discount is unlikely to produce a long run increase once the promotion ends. In some cases, it may be possible to offer discounts on other items that attract new customers that buy more of your primary product. Think of all the gas station signage promoting “lowest legal cigarette prices” or “insanely cheap soda.” Or in the case of this novel Groupon Deal, you happen to have deliciously famous tacos to lure your customer in for otherwise competitively priced 87 octane.

So what do you do if you don’t have awesome tacos and your convenience store just isn’t enough to differentiate you from your competitors? Promotions based on instant win games can be a great tool to engage your customers at the pump. The same applies for other businesses where discounting your core product just doesn’t work. Sometimes, a chance to win something valuable besides your core product is sufficient incentive to differentiate you from your competition. Furthermore, if you couple promotions with a push to engage your customers on social medial, you have the opportunity to connect with them once they leave.

Yes, the message is that Bozuko works perfectly for all businesses – even those where discounting programs just don’t make sense. Visit Bozuko for Business to learn more about how we are helping businesses get more out of their promotions dollar. Try to keep up with Bozuko by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook.

Download our iPhone or Android apps today for a chance to win some great prizes.

P.S. The FCC proclaims that it is in fact safe to play Bozuko on your mobile phone while pumping gas. It is absolutely unsafe to play Bozuko while driving, performing surgery, or performing your duties as a rodeo clown.