How to always get paid: Belgium company invents ‘crying’ invoice and becomes...

How to always get paid: Belgium company invents ‘crying’ invoice and becomes ‘remarkable’


Did you know, in Australia, it takes an average 51.8 days to get paid, according to Dunn & Bradstreet?

Frustration with tardy debtors was the obvious impetus behind this nifty invention from Belgium outfit ikki; an invoice with a voice-chip that begins to make weeping noises 20 seconds after the envelope is opened. (How? The chip reacts to light.)

However, what’s truly inventive about the ‘crying invoice’ is its other purpose.

Why create a ‘crying invoice’?

The ‘crying invoice’ may well solve a real problem (with a smile) but the main reason for this product’s creation is the marketing buzz it’s likely to create.

You’re probably familiar with marketing doyen Seth Godin, who talks about this brand building tactic in his book Free Prize Inside!.

He talks about marketing as the creation of something irresistible, something that markets itself, because everything we do in business is marketing, even if you don’t work in the marketing department.

Godin asks readers to remember when cereal boxes came with a free prize inside. You already liked the cereal, but once you saw that there was a free prize inside, something small yet precious, it became something you had to have.

In the digital era, ‘free prizes’ have also become a powerful tool for creating word of mouth, possibly the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.

Making something remarkable (worth remarking about)

I recently was sent a five cent balloon and a brief handwritten note from Wufoo (an online survey builder we use at Anthill, based in the US). We’ve also now been given two t-shirts as unsolicited gifts from MailChimp (another US-based online company, which we use to manage some of our emails).

Neither of these organisations are in the party-hire or fashion business. The cost of the gift would have been insignificant in comparison to Anthill’s monthly fees over the life of the relationship.

Yet, both made gifts me us feel like a million dollars, had us chattering with enthusiasm for these brands (among ourselfs and through social media channels) and reinforced our loyalty. (The hand-written note from the large US-based dotcom Wufoo blew my mind.)

And, I suspect, that these and other small, yet thoughtful actions are what attracted Anthill to these companies in the first place.

Importantly, the gifts were ‘remarkable’. They weren’t exceptional. But they did prompt conversation (i.e. ‘remarks’).

Do you offer a Free Prize Inside?

So, here is my challenge to you.

Watch this video and marvel at the ingenuity. After that, if your company offers a level of service or ‘free prize’ that is fun, memorable and ‘remarkable’ (or if want to tell us about another clever company that employs such a tactic), leave a comment below.

We’ll reward our favourite with… guess what… a gift! (We have a box full of inspiring business related DVDs, such as, The Corporation and Enron, and one could have your name on it. Okay, this prize is not so ‘remarkable’ but we’re here to learn too.)

The Crying Invoice: How to get paid on time

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  • jama

    Are these available to general businesses?

  • Jodi -Anne

    At Pet Perfection my dog grooming salon we use free gift marketing all the time. From first contact right through to the death of a pet. All new enquires recieve a info pack by mail including a dog treat and a tea bag to use while they read the info. All new clients recieve a first time pack on their first visit which includes samples of dog shampoo, treats, dog food and small promtional material such pens and magnets. Our Once a Month Club clients recieve a free gift each month for example last xmas they received a bottle of wine in which the label had a pic of their own dog/s on it (Sometimes the gift is for the pet, sometimes for the own). Finally when one of our canine clients pass away we send a keyring with their pets pic engraved on it. – Jodi-Anne Hasler

  • Damien

    I implemented a “remarkable gift” into a client of mine. He’s a dentist, primary clients are young families. So rather than send out a DLE card saying “6 months since we saw you, time for a check up” we sent those wind up chattery teeth. Kids loved it, parents talked about it, and the increase in business was 350% greater than a general DLE card.

  • Penny Heidke

    How can we get the crying invoice?