I was watching the NFL last Sunday. The first match they were showing on the TV channel I was watching was Ravens vs. Steelers, kicked off at 1:00 p.m. ET. It ended a little less than 3 hours later, at about 3:55 p.m. ET.
As the next match they were planning to show was Redskins vs. Eagles, due to kick off at 4:15 p.m., they could have easily wasted the following minutes by showing commercials, highlights of the previous game, etc. Instead, they decided to offer some “bonus coverage”: They joined the Broncos vs. Titans game that was still in progress late in the fourth quarter.
It was great. In these few minutes we saw a touchdown that turned around the game and it was exciting until the end. After the game, they went back to the Redskins vs. Eagles game they had planned to show.
As I continued watching, something quickly came to my mind:
How often are we offered a “bonus” when considering buying a product or service? The cereal with a bonus of 10% additional content. The “buy two shirts get the third one for free” bonus. Or the variable bonus on top of your yearly salary.
These bonuses are known to you when you’re making a buying decision. Maybe not in all detail, but you can (and do) take them into consideration when you decide if you will buy a product or service, work for a certain employer, etc. So it may be branded a bonus, but it’s actually part of the package. We only accept the bonus branding because the offer is different from what we consider normal or from what we are used to.
If the 12oz box of corn flakes is filled with a 2oz bonus and priced at 3.99, we don’t decide based on if we think it’s appropriate to spend the 3.99 on 12oz, we think about 14oz instead. The bonus is part of the deal, it is priced in.
The Broncos vs. Titans game was completely different. It was not planned in the TV schedule at the point in time when I turned on the TV. It was spontaneous, it was surprising and it was a real add-on. I took the buying decision – in this case the decision to watch that TV program – before I knew about the bonus.
It got me really excited. My image of that TV station is extremely good now. I will surely come back.
That’s a different kind of bonus. A bonus that is a real add-on. A bonus that comes as a surprise. This kind of bonus leaves an impact. It works on the emotional level and it works continuously, not only for one buying decision.
If next week the cereal box will be back to 12oz, will I still consider 3.99 a good price? Maybe, but the bonus from the week before will probably not have any positive impact anymore.
But if next week the early game will last until 4:13 p.m. and there will be no option to show the final minutes of another game before switching over to the next kickoff, the positive image built up the week before will still influence me.
The surprise bonus has a real impact, and it’s sustainable. So what surprise can you offer?