Nov 15, 2010 11:14 AM by Robin O'Day (KPAX News)
MISSOULA - It can be as simple as a scoop of ice cream or a good cup of coffee that brings a smile to a person's face, but Community Medical Center says their new marketing campaign may also be stimulating the local economy.
What's better than ice cream? Maybe free ice cream.
"We wanted to do something that not only gave back to other local independent businesses in town, but also kind of celebrated Missoulians in general," CMC Marketing Manager Geoff Peddicord recently explained.
For a town known for thinking outside the box, a new CMC is following suit with their Random Act of Community effort.
A selected menu item from your local coffee house or a scoop of ice cream may be totally free on any given day, when you see blue stickers.
"I think it's a more clever way especially in a community like Missoula, [which is] very community minded. It's a nice way to spend your advertising dollars," Big Dipper Ice Cream Manager Bryan Hickey commented.
People are often shocked when they find out someone else has picked up the tab in a world where everything costs something.
Break Espresso Barista Manager Becky Donnelly related the story of a recent customer who couldn't believe what they were looking to buy was free.
She explained to the suprised patron that, "courtesy of Community hospital your bakery item has been purchased."
Donnelly added that the customer responded by saying "Oh well, that's so great. I'm going to do something like that today for somebody."
The pay if forward tactic being used by the campaign may be creating more positive vibes around Missoula, but it's also may be helping local businesses stay afloat.
"She truly didn't know how she was going to get through the month with her small business, but because of the Random Act of Community that we did with her business, [we] literally helped her through that month," Peddicord explained.
He added that marketing with a personal impact as compared to traditional advertising actually costs less.
"You know we're looking at items that are just a couple of dollars and purchasing 100 to 150 of them. So, the expense comparatively speaking to the other media forms is pretty reasonable for us.
"Everyone likes ice cream, but to be able to give away ice cream is like the next best thing, and people are stoked. They love it," Hickey enthused.
Just how long will CMC keep such a a good thing going? When we posed that question to Peddicord he replied that, "it's just been such a positive campaign that we've been doing. We'd be crazy to quit.
The locations for Random Acts of Community campaign are kept tightly under wraps, but we did get word that one local business would be participating on New Year's Eve.
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