Panera’s Free Coffee Offer

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as free coffee.

Panera Bread has been offering free, unlimited coffee through Labor Day for a while now. All you need to do is sign up for it on the bakery-café’s website or app.

Have you taken advantage of this ridiculously awesome offer yet?

The consumer in me says it’s such a great deal! The marketer in me says it’s such a great campaign!

In the infancy of the initiative, they were using Twitter to say they needed 500,000 votes for #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER to make the offer a reality.

That got their audience’s attention – and the necessary votes.

This subscription offer is classic direct marketing, signing up constituents for free, hoping to up-sell them, cross-sell them and ultimately convert them into long-term, paying customers.

While the coffee is free through September 7, after that date, those who haven’t cancelled their subscription with Panera will be billed $8.99 a month for it.

This is a time-tested, classic marketing strategy put into play by Panera, a particularly smart way to attract customers back to the chain’s physical locations – for in-house dining or curbside pickup – amid the coronavirus crisis.

How could your brand, business or organization do something similar? How could you offer a subscription to your products and services? How could you use such an offer to increase your customer lifetime value numbers?

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