Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
The question asker today calls out Graham and Ashkahn on their most common marketing tip: giving away free floats!
The guys are put on trial and forced to defend the practice from someone who has experienced some major fallout from giving out floats to people. They offer some solid advice on how to make sure your free floats reach maximum effect and reassurance in the fact that it’s a relatively low risk practice.
If you’d like to sign up to ask a question on our two hour call in show, November 29th at 3pm PST, go to floattanksolutions.com/dsplive.
Listen to Just the Audio
Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Hey, welcome everyone.
Graham: Hey there. Man, this is Graham over here.
Ashkahn: This is Ashkahn. And this is a podcast.
Ashkahn: As long as we’re naming everything.
Graham: If you don’t know what a podcast is, you’d think they’d have other podcasts on that. So go find them. Before we answer one of your questions today that we’ve pulled at random from a hat, we have an announcement to make. Which is we are winding down the daily solutions podcast.
Ashkahn: Airplane’s pulling into the airplane parking spot here.
Graham: So we talked about that on a recent episode. It’s on our podcast page, list, whatever app you use, download the podcast. Look for special announcement. And you can hear more about why we’re doing that and what we have planned next. And some weird subliminal stuff going on which hopefully you won’t catch. But one exciting thing.
Ashkahn: Yeah, we have a final episode coming up here on November 29 and I mean it’s going to be a big deal.
Graham: Yeah, huge. People are flying in.
Ashkahn: To their computers.
Graham: Where they’ll listen to it.
Ashkahn: So we’re doing a two hour episode, from 3:00 to 5:00 Pacific time. And you are going to be part of it.
Graham: That’s right. We’ll be flying you into the studio to sit with us live, answer questions.
Ashkahn: At your expense. But yeah.
Graham: Yeah, so we’ll be answering questions live. We’ll be live streaming, live broadcasting.
Ashkahn: We’ll be live.
Graham: Yeah, we’ll be alive. You’ll hopefully be alive. It’ll be great. Everyone’s going to have a lot of fun. So yeah. Tune in. 29th. 29th of this month. 3:00 to 5:00pm, Pacific time.
Graham: And that’s it. Anything else?
Graham: Yeah, there is?
Ashkahn: I mean no, no that’s it.
Graham: Okay, great, great. And we still have a question for today.
Ashkahn: Good news.
Graham: Yeah. It is, “I found that giving away free floats has not been good for business at all. Very different than what we say. Not one person I’ve given a free float to has come back and paid for another one. And when I ran a competition for free float package, those that didn’t win got angry.”
Graham: “Even when I offered heavily discounted floats to those that entered but didn’t win, not one person took up the offer. Why do you think that is?”
Ashkahn: So basically everything we’ve been advising people to do has been wrong. Like that’s the question here. You guys have totally screwed up my business.
Graham: What do you think’s up with it?
Ashkahn: Yeah. Because everything’s going pretty bad right now.
Graham: Mostly because of your advice. Well, I guess first of all, you probably shouldn’t listen to anything else we have to say on this episode either.
Ashkahn: Maybe there’s something else going on. Like do you have float tanks? Check for the basics. Because I could see that being a problem. Giving away free floats, but there’s no float tank.
Graham: Float center, no tanks.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Just a sandwich shop.
Graham: Do you live in a town of jerks? Because that might also have something to do with it.
Ashkahn: Well, so, okay. One thing in our defense is go ahead and justify why we’ve been still saying good advice, is part of the benefit of giving free floats away is not only to try to get those specific people to come back and become paying customers in the future. But the less quantifiable part of it is those people floating and then them going out and talking about floating to wherever they end up in the next couple days. That’s just one of the things when you float it just comes up in conversation a lot over the next couple days because it’s a really interesting thing that you did. And hopefully the idea is that those conversations are leading other people to come in and pay you money to float. And the tricky thing there is that just gets a lot harder to measure.
Like you know who you gave free floats to in most cases, or you’re tracking your gift certificates or something. And so that’s a little easier to look at and be like and get hard numbers on but it’s harder to tell how much of the kind of ripple wave, impact is actually happening.
Graham: For sure. I mean some of the groups we target specifically we know don’t necessarily have a lot of money as demographics. You’re like we could go after doctors or artists for example. And one of those probably has a higher average income bracket. But we went after artists which is not the people who necessarily have a ton of money to spend on floating or really on any kind of luxury expense like that. But then this is the first program we ran at Float On is in our program which we talked about on another episode that we’ll put in the show notes. But the point is the goal was not necessarily with that to get all of these artists free floats who maybe couldn’t afford it in the future and that’s where it stops. It’s to get the artists talking about the float experience to other artists in the community to people that maybe do have money and again well outside of just that niche of artists. Everyone has friends and family and other people who aren’t just in their little demographic.
Even more specifically to this point, like you were saying, don’t share the same bank account. So the kind of ripple of the good news about floating that comes out of giving free floats I think is both almost impossible to track and one of the big important things that does come out of giving away a lot of free floats and getting people in.
Ashkahn: So if the benefits are impossible for you to track, there’s no way you could know that we’re wrong about this. So there you go.
Graham: Sucker. We got you.
Ashkahn: All right. So that’s point number one. Point number two, in defense of Grashkahmn here is the delay sometimes between someone floating and then coming back to float can be a pretty long time. Sometimes people float like two times a year. And that’s just kind of a special thing and not everyone’s going to become a weekly floater. I don’t know what sort of length of time you’re looking at here when you presented this data. So this may or may not be the case for you, but you may find that over a year or something you may actually start to see some of those people come back and pay money for floats. So that’s the other thing I would mention is that there is perhaps a bigger picture with a longer length of time that makes these numbers look a little bit better than nobody coming in.
Graham: Yeah, for sure. And again, because things are so hard to track and nebulous, I don’t even see how you could pin this on any kind of advice that we gave.
Ashkahn: No one could possibly be blamed for what’s going on there.
Graham: I had another one too. I’m going to hop in.
Ashkahn: Point number three.
Graham: Yeah, point number three is, what is point number three? Sorry I got distracted again. What were we saying? Did you have something important that you were going to say?
Ashkahn: Okay so point number three in our defense, jury I ask you to look at this information and then you be the decider here. I got it, I got it. So one thing, and again, I don’t know if you did this or if you didn’t do this, you didn’t bring this up in your question. But one thing that we like to do when we give free floats away is do something that justifies why people are getting it for free. So we’re not just giving free floats to people. Like for artists we’re having them create a piece of artwork. And the reason we’re doing those things is because we don’t want to devalue our floats. It’s specifically so they feel like they’re not getting a free float. They’re doing something to fulfill their end of the exchange. And I think that makes it a lot easier for them to pay money to come in and float again. Because it’s just hard.
If you got a free float then you have to pay $70 to come float, like that’s a really big pain point that’s hard to overcome. But if you got a float and you had to spend five hours of your time creating some piece of artwork, I think it’s just a lot easier to make that leap to be like oh well this time I’m just going to pay for it instead of spending five hours doing this. It just feels a little bit more like a smooth transition then than literally just getting something from free. So I just don’t think people, it does devalue things if all you’re doing is giving them out for free and you don’t have some sort of good justification or exchange for it.
Graham: Yeah, and some good examples for that too are my go to’s are write us 500 plus words in a blog post that we can put up on our website as kind of a testimonial and something to show other people who are just thinking about getting into the tank or hop on camera with us for a five or ten minute interview after you get out of your float. And you can have that one for free. Or we haven’t don’t this at Float On, but I know other centers who have done kind of a big demographic survey. It’s like hey if you’re willing to answer these two pages of very personal, private data then yeah you can have a free float. And then hopefully the next time someone is thinking about coming in and they’re like, “Oh well I should just pay a discount or I should get another float for free.” They’re like I’m not doing the same thing. I’m not doing a ten minute interview this time. Or I’m not creating a piece of artwork for someone. And yeah, anyway, artwork is very obviously specific to artists, but hopping on video, doing blog post, getting demographic information, that’s something that anyone of any group can do.
So those are really nice tools for that justification. And I remembered what point three was which I’ll now call Graham’s point four. Which is that like I don’t even know how it would take so long for us to track the amount of people who have come in on free floats and whether they’ve come back exactly. Just because we give out free floats individually. We have certain discount codes that are for free floats. We sort of pepper Portland with free floats. That’s a lot of pa pa with fa fa. It was nice. Pepper Portland with free floats.
Ashkahn: Perfectly formed.
Graham: Yeah. And I think part of that is we have a six float tank float center that when we give out these free floats it’s not necessarily impacting the schedule for our paying customers as much. And that we have some empty tanks. And then we’re going to be staffing the shop anyway. So if we have at our place three or four tanks filled, filling those other two tanks is some of the best things that we can spend money on in terms of marketing. But if you’re one or two tank center, then the equations a little bit different. In that case, free floats are actually taking away from potentially paying customers who are coming in and I think you just have a lot less buffer in your schedule and you’re able to track things a little bit more and maybe feel it a little more personally because you’re the one behind the counter. So again, I have no idea if the person who sent in the question is a smaller tank center. I just sort of like the way the question was phrased. I kind of get that.
Ashkahn: We’re just going to assume a lot of things about you that help justify our information here. The other thing that I just think is nice to think about is, if something doesn’t work or you feel like it’s not working, then you have an opportunity to tweak it and see if you can improve it. And at the very least I think it’s better for you as a business to have not had giving free floats away, not work for you. There’s a lot of “nots”. Whatever the proper version. It’s better to have kind of failed at giving away free floats than it would be to have failed at a huge paid advertising campaign.
Ashkahn: Like you lost a lot less money with the kind of value of your floats being given away than had you spent a couple thousand dollars on a billboard that showed no results or something. So at least it’s a much easier place to experiment and hone things and try to get those numbers up than the more traditional world of advertising.
Graham: And another good thing to do is to actually check back in with the people who came in for free floats. I mean presumably you gave them free floats for a reason. Or you met them and thought they were cool and decided to give them a free float or something. So check in with them. See if you can get some information after the fact about why they haven’t come back and what’s going on. The way we phrase that at Float On is really assuming that people had a bad experience even though we hope that’s not the case. But it kind of gives them permission to tell you if they did. So we kind of send a three month check in to everyone who’s come in to float if they haven’t been in in another three months. And it kind of starts out like “hey we haven’t seen you in a while, was anything wrong with your last float?” And it kind of just opens communication for them to say “no nothing was wrong” or “you know what actually now that you mention it the tank was a little cold. I haven’t really wanted to get back in because I’m afraid I’ll have the same experience.”
Or whatever it is that they say. But yeah, if they’re not coming back in, if they’re not referring people over, maybe there is a reason and doing a little investigation will let you know what that is and how to get them back.
Ashkahn: And hopefully because you gave them free floats it feels easier to approach them and ask them for that sort of information.
Graham: Yeah. Good question. This is a good one to give an answer.
Ashkahn: I don’t know. Maybe we have a day of reckoning coming for us at Float On. We’ve just been really lucky this whole time.
Graham: And definitely feel free to reach out personally too and shoot us along an email if this didn’t answer your question or you kind of have more extenuating circumstances. I’m always curious when the strategy doesn’t work because I have seen it work for so many float centers that are not just us either. Cool. Yeah, anything else? Free floats?
Graham: Wait I have another one. I have point five or six. Five A. One other tip for giving away free floats is giving them to distinct and almost like smaller niche of people I think tends to work really well. Like us starting with artists. Even though that’s a big group within Portland, it’s still a kind of confined little area of the social ecosystem there. And as a result of really targeting free floats to artists and we gave out over 300 free floats over the course of maybe about four months to different artists, the entire art world was really a buzz about floating. It was popping up on our blogs. Teachers were mentioning it in art classes. And had we kind of spread of 300 floats out among different demographics, I don’t think that same word of mouth would have gotten going. It’s like choosing one niche really concentrates the amount that people start hearing about something and it gets mentioned around. One other tip for the free float phenomenon.
Ashkahn: And tip seven sub section C, another thing we found helps is giving two floats to people instead of one. And that can be a couple things. Like we’ve done programs where we’re asking people to float themselves once a week for four weeks or something like that. Where it’s a little bit more of a deeper experience for them. But if we’re just trying to give someone a one off float, we’ll often give them two floats because the barrier to them coming in is a lot easier when they can bring someone with them. When people have never tried floating they really like coming with someone else. And just having it be like the hey let’s go do this weird floating thing together. And so it’s one more thing you can kind of get out of the way of getting more people to come in together is giving someone two floats. Like hey bring you and your friend or you and your partner into the float center sometime.
Graham: Especially good for kind of the higher class people that you’re giving free floats to in the sense of if you’re actually trying to get people who run wellness centers to come in and float. Or you’re trying to get members from the press to come in and float. Or just people who have busy schedules. That bringing someone else along is the difference between floating distracting them from their life and responsibilities and family or those people being a part of it. So again, especially when you’re trying to get kind of the bigger name influencers in I think giving multiple free floats is great advice.
Okay. If you have.
Wait, did you have something else.
Ashkahn: I was going to say try that out. Let us know if all of this still fails then boy you got us for sure.
Graham: Certainly just don’t even bother with the rest of the episodes. And if you have your own questions or things that you’ve tried out that we’ve said that just absolutely didn’t work for you. You only have a short time to send him our way. This is the last little round of questions.
Ashkahn: After that then we’re free from anyone refuting anything we have to say.
Graham: Go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast.
Ashkahn: That’s the site. Get it right.
Graham: Yeah. Criticize us all you want on there and yeah, as long as we approve of what you say we’ll read it out loud on the air here.
Ashkahn: All right. Sounds good. Have a good night everyone.
Graham: Bye everyone.
Recent Podcast Episodes
Graham and Ashkahn kick off the New Year by discussing the things to consider when adding a float tank to an existing business. This is a fantastic episode to start with if you’ve already got a service-based business or are a practitioner looking to start up on your own and looking for ideas.
The boys talk about logistical considerations, the built-in advantages to adding on to an existing practice, as well as how nice it is to have a meatball sandwich after chilling out in a sensory reduced environment for an hour (Ashkahn has a serious one-track mind).
Graham and Ashkahn round out the end of the year by talking about all the naughty and nice things about having business partners.
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In every service business, there’s a running joke that someone likes that’s usually somehting along the lines of “this job would be great if it weren’t for all the customers!” (*cue laugh track and uproarious applause*), well, the boys have not shied away from talking about the difficult sides of running a shop like ours. We’ve got episodes about handling negative Yelp reviews, customers too intoxicated to float, and even what to do when it’s time to 86 a problematic client.
You can tell this episode was recorded a little while ago, really close to after we all got back from the Conference. The boys are a little tired today, but they still have lots to talk about.
Grashkahmn share their initial reactions to the Conference now that it’s being run by the industry as a non-profit. This is a nice episode especially if you’re looking for some insights on their behind-the-scenes perspective on this big industry event and how it has changed this year.
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