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Employee Family & Friend Promotions

Michael Brown

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Employee Family and Friend Promotions

Firestone Tires (yes, that Firestone) uses a simple means of generating referrals. It costs pennies, allows employees to look good with their friends, and can keep the company top-of-mind for tires for years. It is a "special friends" discount card.

The card is for "special friends" of Firestone, meaning Firestone employees. The employee writes his or her name on the card and the customer's name. The customer can then present the card to Firestone for an additional 10% off on any service or product.

The special friends cards are really nothing more than business cards. They cost little. Yet, customers can easily keep them in their wallets and may keep them for years, long after the employee has departed. Whenever the need for tires comes up, the customer remembers the card and Firestone gets first crack.


Special friends promotions are widespread in the retailing world. The employees of retailers either send an email or an email to a special web page with no other links to friends and family. Often, employees with one retailer will send them to the employees of other retailers so that they can take advantage of the other retailer's special friends program in a type of quid pro quo.

What prevents the recipient of one of these from emailing it to other people? Nothing! Usually time limited, a special friends promotion is nothing more than an employee driven referral based promotion. It makes the employee feel good to offer a "special" to family and friends. To the family and friends it appears as though they are in on something exclusive. Terrific. Whatever it takes to get them to buy.

The email promotion has the added advantage of zero marketing and advertising cost. Yes, there is the cost of the promotion itself, but employees spread it for free, often at home on their own time.

Copyright © 2002 Matt Michel

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