What’s Your Blue Light Special?

Remember the K-Mart blue light special? It was created in 1965 by a store manager looking to move slow merchandise and quickly became part of the American lexicon.

Years ago I recall tooling around K-Mart with my mom, shopping for back to school clothes, when all of a sudden an announcer would blurt out those now famous words, “Attention K-Mart shoppers, there’s a blue light special on . . .”

Every time it happened, women would wheel their carts around and head for the special blue light price on cookware awaiting them in aisle 7. Even as a 10 year old it was obvious the power this marketing surprise possessed.

People love surprises and they get them much anymore. (Even K-Mart has dropped the blue light special)

Build surprises into your marketing efforts; literally, make some sort of a surprise part of your client fulfillment system and transact them without warning.

You can surprise:

  • The first time someone orders from you, throw in something extra.
  • When someone refers business to you, send them a cake.
  • Partner with other businesses, create and send a gift certificate pack good for other products and services
  • Toss in a t-shirt, send them a book you like, be creative and you will remind them what a good decision they made hiring you in the first place.

The thing about surprises is they create word of mouth. People will go on and on about getting something extra, something they didn’t expect.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Mike Bawden


    This is a great piece of advice. I especially like the idea of building surprises into your marketing plan. Not only does it make sense, but it could add a good bit of fun to a planning session or agency brainstorm for a client.

    Great advice as usual.

    I’ve added this post to my list of blog posts marketers should read for Tuesday’s (11/22) “Much Ado About Marketing” blog.

    Thanks again,

    Mike Bawden
    Brand Central Station

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