Richard Mori saw value in worthless highway tokens.
Richard Mori of Mori Books in Amherst, New Hampshire, recently dreamed up a promotion that Guerrilla Marketing author Jay Levinson calls "sheer genius." After starting a new tollbooth E-ZPass system on January 1, 2006, the state of New Hampshire declared all outstanding highway tokens worthless. Mori was outraged. The state should have offered to buy back the tokens, he thought. Working out the details on a napkin over a New Year's Day lunch, he decided that his store would redeem tokens for double the face value, or 50 cents each, for up to half the cost of any purchase. Mori's inventory of 170,000 books ranges from $2 paperbacks to rare books that sell for $5,000.
The promotion worked beautifully. After he sent out a press release, Mori was the subject of TV, newspaper, and radio stories all over the state. By early April, his store had received 2,000 tokens, worth $1,000 in store credit. One man brought in a bag filled with 187 tokens. (Mori may use his stock-pile to create gift certificates or a customer loyalty program.) The exposure has driven monthly revenue up 25 percent, led by sales of pricier rare books.