You Deserve A Donut

by Dan Walsh


How to NOT sell one of the easiest things on earth.

I walked past two high schoolers this morning on my way to the office. They were at my subway stop, slinging Krispy Kremes to raise money for their school.

“Twelve donuts for 10 dollars…”

“Help us raise money for our high school…”

Everyone walked right past them, just like me. I wanted to coach them.

I wanted to tell them that no one comes out of the subway looking for a deal on a dozen donuts. Nobody knows what high school they go to, or why it needs money. I wanted to tell them their claims were too generic to stand out, and that they weren’t thinking about the customer. “You’re approaching the problem from your perspective. You need to approach it from THEIR perspective.” The marketer in me felt like I was banging my head against a wall.

Donuts are easy! Donuts are so so easy and they were making it hard on themselves. The headlines practically write themselves.

“It’s Friday! You deserve a donut!”

“Are you hungry? How bout a Krispy Kreme?”

“Did you skip breakfast this morning? It’s the most important meal of the day. Have a donut!”

Donuts are such an easy sell that they would have just been better off yelling “DONUTS” as loud as they could. I mean, come on. Everyone knows why a donut is awesome. This was the easiest feature-to-benefit translation I’ve ever seen.

So yeah. I wanted to go over there and coach them. I wanted to teach them a life-long skill: A way to get more of what they wanted by helping others get what they want too. Here’s what you do:

  1. Make it relevant.
  2. Engage them with a question.
  3. Make it easy to say yes.

I wanted to tell them what to say. I wanted to give them better headlines to yell. Actually, I realized they could test their headlines. And if I stood near them with a clipboard I could record which ones worked best and they’d know exactly what to say. They could tell their classmates, who would then also become super donut fundraisers. Their school would be flush with cash in record time and Krispy Kreme would want to know the secret of their success and they’d say…

“Take a customer-first perspective!”

“Benefits not features!”

“A/B split testing our headlines!”

And then I realized I’m a crazy person for having visions like this in the half second after I see someone with a box of donuts.