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Get More Customers by Putting Out a Candy Dish

A hand of child picking a jelly candy from a candy bowl

If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, you know there’s one shortcut to becoming popular among your colleagues.

Position a candy dish on the corner of your desk, and keep it filled with goodies. It’s a great way to guarantee you’ll get chatted up by all sorts of people who otherwise might not have stopped by to say hello.

Content marketing is like a candy

No matter what your business sells, there’s a way to create marketing materials that are useful for the target market you want to reach. This is what content marketing is all about: packaging information your market will find valuable, then offering it to them as a way to market your business.

Keeping a “candy dish” with content available will help you attract, inform and retain customers to your physical location or website.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • A natural lawn care company could put together a guide to lawn care challenges through the seasons, and what to do about them.
  • A writer could present an e-book about common grammatical errors and how to spot them.
  • A life coach could write a special report about how to create space for life-changing new habits.
  • A pizza shop could create a “busy night meal plan” that shows how you can call for pizza, and while you wait for delivery, make a quick salad that will complete the meal and feed your family fast. (Of course I know nothing about that …)

The key is to think about your customers, what their lives are like, and what challenges they’re dealing with. Then create content that they’ll value so much they’ll want to save it. Give it to them at no charge.

They’ll associate your company with the value you’ve provided, they’ll thank you for the problem you’ve solved, and they’ll think of your business the next time they need your kind of product or service.

Does your business have a candy dish? Need some help brainstorming an idea for what you can put in your candy dish? Let’s hear it in the comments.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

18 thoughts on “Get More Customers by Putting Out a Candy Dish”

  1. Great way of thinking about this. I’ve noticed it’s hard for a lot of small local businesses to wrap their minds around content marketing. This is a metaphor that works because it’s not as if you want your content marketing efforts to strong-arm people into your shop. You just want to give them that little nudge that gets them moving in your direction.

  2. I love your metaphor of the candy dish. Shops that have the best candy get the repeat customers. That’s just human nature!

    My site is based on the candy dish, starting with sharing my photos by email years ago. Those who have signed up for the list receive the blog post: a beautiful photo accompanied by poetic words, directly in the email inbox every single day. Many of these people have been on my list for years. Some of them have difficult situations and this early morning bit of cheer or inspiration is some kind of help to them to have a good day or to step towards healing. It’s important to me.

    The issue I need to resolve is what else do they need? How can I provide them with a product that will take them past the candy dish?

    Hugs and butterflies,

    • Hi PicsieChick,

      Could you do a customer survey? Sometimes asking them about their challenges (in exchange for extra “candy,” like a special report, or maybe a full-size photo or poster you offer …) will help you to gather information about what your readers need.

  3. I love this and totally agree- now to find my own version. I am an actor (and a writer but plays and screenplays so less able to apply the example in the post). Any ideas jump out at you Pamela? Or anyone else? My site is LouiseFlory dot com. I’m working on a virtual meeting web page idea (I can give the url if anyone is interested) but that is more about silencing the “no” that seems to echo throughout my industry!
    Thanks in advance for any ideas.

    • Hello Louise!

      The answer to this has to start with the customers you’re trying to reach. What would they find useful, and what kind of information would help them to see you as an authority in your field?

      For example, if you’re trying to reach casting directors, what would be helpful for them to know about actors? How could you present yourself as a resource to them?

      • Oh, good stuff. The wheels are turning….
        I love the idea of focusing on the “give” instead of what I want from them.

  4. I love the candy dish metaphor. It gives me a greater appreciation for why I provide my Weekly Wake-Ups.

    I’m a textile artist making inspiring Buddhist images out of silk. The work is intricate and subtle and inaccessible to many, especially since they take so long that I can only make two a year! Earlier this year, I started offering a weekly mailing of a detailed image (eye candy!) paired with an inspiring quote. People tell me these messages help set a positive tone for their week. And they allow people access to my work and connection with me that would be hard to get otherwise. It really IS like a candy dish on my desk that they pass by each Monday. Several recipients are now considering studying with me.

    Thanks for helping me appreciate more deeply something I’d done up to now on faith.

    • Leslie, what a fantastic idea! It’s a great way to stretch what you’re doing over a long time period and keep people engaged. Kudos to you for figuring out this solution!

  5. Great topic! I love brainstorming with clients about what they have to offer and how to attract customer by offering things like the *free* information/guides/tools that you mention.

  6. Pamela, love how you constantly give out such down to earth advice in your blog. Candy dish selling has been practiced for ages; nevertheless, you’ve disected the concept in such a plain, easy-to-digest way, you’ve made the old concept a cinch to remember and put to use. Bravo.

  7. This is a great metaphor- love it! One big benefit of consistently putting the candy dish out there is that people are going to start expecting it, and clamouring for it if it isn’t there. It’s a great engagement strategy as well as an attraction strategy, and if a business is looking for more ideas about what it should be offering, it just needs to stop and listen at the candy dish. When customers are engaged, they will tell you want they want!

  8. Cute analogy but is there really evidence to suggest that people are going to come back and buy something because they got something free? I feel like perhaps this is more like the old ‘dont feed the stray cat’ or it’ll keep coming around sort of thing.

    • Not sure what business you’re in, Melody, but you’d have to try this to see if it works for you. Sharing valuable information is a great way to set yourself up as an authority in your field.

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