Role of publicity and tricks in marketing

Way back in the late seventies, when I was in Bangalore, India, one of my close friend, whose father was a businessman, told me that they constructed a four storied building with each floor of 20,000 square feet and that they have made everything ready to start a ready-made cloth shop in that building. In that, the ground floor is for kid’s garments, first floor for ladies Sarees and dresses, second floor for gents ready-made dresses and the third floor is storing place. He asked me to tell an idea as to how to bring more customers to their shop, which they will be starting a few days.

I told him, “Advertise in newspapers (those days electronic media, social media were not there) like this:

“We are opening a readymade garments shop shortly. One day each month, anyone can come to our shop and take whatever they want, costing any amount absolutely free. Don’t miss this golden opportunity. For details please come to the shop and read it on a board displayed there.”

After listening to my advice my friend asked me, “Brother, I asked your advice to get profits, not to lose everything we got.”

I assured my friend that they will get profits which they have not expected. I asked him to display a board outside their shop, with the following:

“Dear prospective customers, you must have come after seeing our advertisement in newspapers. What we meant is this: Customers can buy any number of things from our shop, costing any amount and retain the bill. On the first of the next month, we take a draw of dates (1 to 30 or 31). If the 16th date comes in the draw, customers who purchased on the 16th of the previous month can bring bills and get back the entire amount in the bill or garments and ready-made dresses for that amount.

Believe me, there was an exodus of people every day and they have to get stock every day. Within 3 months they got their investment back.

About the author

Murali Krishna Akilla is a founder member of Compumatrix. He is a writer and blogger. At the age of 72 years, he keeps writing.


  1. Well, I guess whatever it takes to first get the customers there will work. I know that if you first give away something, or somehow bless a customer with something he didn’t deserve or pay for, he will totally think different about your company and he will talk about it. “Word of mouth” is the fastest way to grow and sustain a long-term business. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the principle.

    1. You got the point Jeffrey. For any online/offline business, customers are very important. As long as we don’t cheat them, any legally permitted method can be used to promote business and increase sales. Here in India, when a new shop is started, the shop owners offer flat 10% discount on all products. In what I narrated above, which really happened to me in the year 1976, it worked out to 5% discount after refunding full amounts to customers of that one day, which they got by taking a draw. That is a small trick, but fully legal.

      To get customers big companies like Amazon, Flipkart, and many other companies offer heavy discounts for festivals and other important events. A genuine discount is an incentive to customers. Then it goes word by mouth to many people.

    2. What a great idea Murali… is so hard for people to resist something given for free! Even better to put the idea in the newspaper first which could be social media now and then invite them to the shop to expand and further explain the “free idea” Everyone has a chance to
      win! Someone has to – who can resist the idea that it may he him/her 🙂

  2. There is an area in New York (down on Canarsie Street) that if you really wanted a bargain, GET THERE EARLY! The merchants felt it was bad luck if your first customer didn’t buy anything. They felt the rest of the day would be bad. So, if you were the first customer, you could get a great deal because they would drop the price really low if they need to so you would buy.

    People always want to know they got a great deal. If you are fair to your customers, they come back often.

  3. It was 2001 when two men came up with a brilliant idea. Why not sell lottery tickets and the winner would receive a beautiful million dollar home? The men were builders and actually built a magnificent, custom home. They were never planning to cheat anyone. One day, the house was done and the tickets were printed. Unfortunately, the team never budgeted for marketing; to make matters worse they never looked into the laws concerning lotteries. They unwisely thought that they could just go door to door and sell tickets. In the end, they lost everything. Their story echos the points Mr. Akila made. He wisely pointed out you must stay within the law which means you must know the law. In addition, you must have a very creative plan for marketing, especially in this current environment.

  4. in any business it is absolutely imperative to get the word out to as many as you can and it is not especially now to start on a shoestring but people still do — but i love the idea from back in the 70’s and that thought still would work today get as many people as you can talking about your business and You will do just fine — great Post Murali —

  5. Like the old adage says, “The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.” LOL But of course the most important thing in effective marketing is for it to get people’s attention and cause them to take action. As long as that is done ethically and legally, even if “tricks” are used or “mind games” are played, then it is fair. I like the idea that you gave to your Uncle Krish. Well done!

  6. That was a great idea to build buzz for a new business. The ROI, I would imagine, was quite high with the influx of customers rushing in. In business the cost to get one new customer is usually quite high. In the story, I think that person was a marketing genius. He created a way to have people talking and giving free advertisement about the business. Now of course a good product and excellent customer service will keep those clients coming month after month.

  7. In the late 90s a new concept of Pizza business came to town . I took my family out to dinner and we order a large supreme pizza. The waiteress came with our order and set 2 large pizzas on the table . I said Miss we order one , she said yes I know that’s why you get two. The name of the Pizza place was 2X1 Pizza.
    Of course we had to take home the extra pizza. LOL!!

  8. I can remember back in the late 70’s my Parents had a deli and I learned the business as teenager and when the first 6 months for every pound of lunch meat i sliced for the customer I added 1/4 pound of free and same thing with the fresh ground ground chuck every pound got additional 1/4 pound didn’t think much back then BUT it sure worked to bring business in a small town as word got out —

  9. This is such an innovative way to bring in customers and sales to a business that I would not have thought of before. I think this is a perfect marketing strategy because it first, gets people into the store and gives them something in return. Then, the market campaign makes the customer think they could get free items, but the likelihood is low; so therefore, customers buy. Finally, lots of profits on all days of the month except for one day of the month equals huge profits overall and an overall successful business. A very intriguing marketing strategy to say the least.

  10. Haha I found this way of marketing to be so unique! I only put the “haha” in my comment because I chuckled when reading this blog post because it is such an innovative marketing technique that I would have never thought of myself. I wish I would have, but I love how while reading these articles I am learning tons of new strategies, which I can then apply to my own business.

  11. Although I am very impressed by these marketing tactics, I wouldn’t want to be the person on the other side of this operation. I only buy things when I need to buy things. I don’t need all the newest gadgets and gizmos. Only spend when it’s either going to make you money or it is a necessity! It saves me a lot of money!

  12. this is just a great thought process — after over 45 years of working with the public in a sales end — whether it was face to face or making their burgers or chicken wings or butter cookies or etc. each moment as in each person is as different as each breath we take — so often too many parts are grouped together — and honestly they should not be — each person is as different as the breath we breathe —

  13. i just enjoy reading and remembering thru the times and so much today is still as important as it was back in my youth as I learned people to people now am discovering how it is to be online or phone type contacts and it is different but still learnable biz — just really appreciate all the great reads here —

  14. Very nice ploy to lure people into buying your product in Legal and Honest means.At the same time getting free advertisement by word of mouth increasing the inflow of customers and profiting thereof.Several innovative tactics are being employed these days to get the potential customer to your establishment and you make a sale[profitable].

  15. This is a great way to introduce your product to customers.Marketing is the key to success and the way it comes to many people. People do anything to sell their products. Many people follow the law which I think is successful. Most of the time I saw a board outside the store. It has been written that if you buy such and such a product, you will get anything for free and have seen so many people that the shopkeepers of this shop collect money for this free item from the customer along with the product.

  16. oh how much marketing and sales philosophy go hand in hand with success in any business — i remember setting up a menu with this and that and then we delivered the goods and yeppers we had success in food biz — oh just putting ideas with strategies — with good effort — often times equals success —

  17. So many ways to try and attract customers gets very interesting. My Dad knew a guy who was raveling his paycheck off at the place he worked and he was getting double money every week….. well some how the IRS caught wind of it and he lost everything even his house boy was he kicking his self for that one. Always make sure it is legal what ever you decide to do.

  18. Thank you so much for the blog, Your right peer to peer is best in every way. Sending information out via mail is great but word of mouth is the best advertising.

  19. this is such a great blog and the replies so many go hand in hand — this area of so many great Business people sharing their wisdom and history — I love looking back over last 45-50 years and seeing Biz then and now with computer n crypto world — wow just have to Breathe deep and try and keep up ?? thanks again —

  20. As the blog mentioned an investor in Bangalore India had built a multi-level retail establishment that averaged around 20,000sf,per level, I thought by comparison in the United States this would be the shopping mall a few years ago. Nowadays, this would seem more like Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc., which is like a one-stop-shop condensed version of a shopping mall. A blue-light special might be seen as a marketing tool to lure customers.

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