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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 Startup.com, 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