That Little Something Extra

By on October 7, 2011

ExtraIn Louisiana there is a common word, “lagniappe” (pronounced “LAN-yap”), which means giving a little something extra to a customer’s order to build good will, and most of all, return business. A baker’s dozen is a good example.

The French also have a similar PR technique called “amuse-bouche,” meaning mouth amuser. A chef presents a specially prepared, not on the menu, bit of food, like an hors d’oeuvre, to everyone at the table during the meal. This gratis surprise is to enhance the chef’s reputation and the diners’ experience at his restaurant.


Any type of business can use the lagniappe technique to build goodwill with a gimme of its own. After the sale at the register, present a coupon for a discount on their next visit. Supermarket registers print these separately, but many registers can be programmed to print an offer on your receipts. Even an onsite ATM can be programmed to add an offer on the receipt. A gimme can be an add-on to the purchase – a tie to go with shirts, socks with shoes, etc. It’s also a great way to use extra stock. A printer uses left over paper to give out note pads with shopping lists, to-do lists, and calendars, for example. If you like, you can always buy a logoed promotional item to be your gimme. A pen, post-it note, magnet, or calendar will keep your name in front of the customer after the sale and can be your gimme at trade shows and chamber networking events.

Gimme Partners

Don’t have a lagniappe of your own? Partner with a vendor or neighborhood business to create a gimme that benefits you both. One sub shop that was located next to a movie theatre did a buy-one-get-one movie ticket offer when a sub shop register receipt was presented. Does a supplier have a new item that they are promoting? Ask for samples and promotional materials to distribute for them. Pharmaceutical companies are champions at this. Purchase certain brands and get $3.00 off your purchase. Supermarkets are great for this one too. Gimmes can be offered online. Restaurants do this one all the time. It’s a great way to build your email lists for future marketing.

No Strings

There should be no strings attached to your gimme. Small print and a laundry list of rules and exceptions will not build good will or return business. Lagniappe is supposed to be an out-of-the-kindness-of your-heart surprise. Conditions, especially with online offers, make this more like “briber-e”. These offers with strings can get your company dropped on Facebook as a violation to their contract. A national restaurant chain asks customers to sign up for their email club. An email is promptly sent for a “Free Appetizer” but only if you “really like us” with the LIKE button on Facebook. Without prior permission from Facebook, this gimme is violates Facebook’s terms of service and can get your page deleted. More importantly though, it leaves out potential customers who don’t use Facebook – especially older customers – and it’s more of a payoff than a lagniappe. A gimme should be just that, an extra somethin’-somethin’ given freely to endear the customer to your business.

So the bottom line is that whatever you call it – a lagniappe, give-away, or gimme – it can be a very effective marketing and relationship building tool… if it’s done right.  What experience do you have with your business or others using lagniappes?  Share with the community in the comments section!

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Adam Toren

About Adam Toren

Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.


  1. reeha@gift ideas

    October 7, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Looking forward for some more information about lagniappe technique. please share me some more info regarding that,

  2. niranjan

    October 7, 2011 at 7:40 am

    yeah.. i do agree with you…Adam Toren…. it helps a lot in retaining the customers and improves revisits…. can you give real time examples that made a company so famous by this technique…. and is it possible to follow this on a long run… because customer will be expecting for a new surprise every time..

  3. Android Stuff

    October 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    That little something you said about it seem to be very important. If there is in offline environment a little attention is always welcome by customers…especially when I true smile is upon your face (as seller).

    Waiting for more articles from you Adam.


  4. Stan Phelps

    October 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Great post. I’m a huge proponent of ‘marketing lagniappe’ or what I call a ‘Purple Goldfish’. I’m currently on a quest to crowdsource 1,001 example of brands that ‘give little unexpected extras’. We’re currently at 900 examples in the Purple Goldfish Project at
    ‘the average distance between the brain and the heart is nine inches’

  5. PMP Certification

    October 14, 2011 at 2:50 am

    The Lagniappe technique has been around forever, you just have to look at any online IM type launch. You get details of the product you are interested in then a long list of Lagniappe extras. Overdone for lots of products. The important point is that the give-away should be useful in it’s own right and not free garbage thats past its use-by date. Your article is a nice reminder for those who may have “forgotten” it in favour of the “upsell”