The demand for ride-share apps is through the roof, with Uber and Lyft already cashing in on growing global markets. Trying to break into the ride-share market is a tall task for new, regional competitors, but the demand and potential payoff are more than strong enough to inspire competition—especially if they can bring in a new twist, as was happening in Boston this summer.

The ride-share application Fasten, and Tasty Burger of Boston teamed up to offer customers what they hope is an irresistible two-for one deal. The marketing agreement between the two is pretty simple: Buy a Tasty Burger, and get up to $20 off a ride from Fasten, or ride with Fasten and get a free Tasty Burger. Makes sense. Ride-share is frequently used for dining out, and free food plays well under pretty much any circumstances. So far, so good. The incentives have value for customers of both businesses, and they’re large enough to move the needle. The two businesses hope that a mutually beneficial marketing partnership will help dent the dominance of current industry leaders. But is this a marketing match made in heaven, or just a fleeting opportunity for cross-promotion?

Creative Marketing is Key for New Businesses in Competitive Industries 

If your ride-share or burger shop allegiance is still up in the air, or even  it it’s not, this is the sort of arrangement that might at least motivate you to try a new entrant to the market. And that’s a big deal. When you’re trying to compete with established ride giants like Uber, Lyft, or burger chains like Five Guys or In-N-Out Burger, you’re going to have to convince some pretty devoted customers to give your brand a shot. Offering something for free or at a steep discount has always been something that catches the eye of new customers.

Of course, there’s a downside; it’s unsustainable in the long run. Fasten and Tasty Burger surely understand the financial hit that comes with offering such a steep discount, but have decided the short-term cost is worth it in their efforts to disrupt established markets. You can’t hand out free burgers and rides forever, but these businesses are still at a point where the increase in brand awareness is worth the cost.

Customers Will Gladly Accept Your Free Stuff, but What Happens Next?

We all love getting something for free, even more so when it’s something that we genuinely need or want. The challenge for new brands like Fasten and Tasty Burger is that offering free stuff is really just a way to get your foot in the door. Since it’s free, you’re not likely to complain too loudly if your burger is overcooked and served on a stale bun. But you’re also not likely to come back and pay for a burger if the free version didn’t meet your standards. If your ride-share driver is late, drives erratically, or gets lost, same story.

The reality for every business is that marketing promotions are only as good as the product or service they promote. If your new marketing push and discount deal come with quality customer service, fair future pricing, and a solid product or service, you’ve got much better odds of success.

Will it work for Fasten and Tasty Burger? Tough to say. They’re going up against some extremely popular, well-established brands, so it’s an uphill battle even with strong marketing and a sensible business model. Both businesses are doing their best to break in, and they’re doing it in a way that ultimately benefits the people who give their brands a shot. It may or may not be enough to make a dent in Uber’s market share, but you can’t topple a giant without taking a few calculated risks.

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