I’m new to Baltimore. In a few months, I’ll be leaving after a year here. My impact on the local economy has been pretty minimal. It has, however, involved some spending.

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These oysters are empty, just like all the ones we ate before them!

I just found these 3 business card coupons under my bed. They were given to me by Molly (a manager?) at Birroteca very early on in my time in Baltimore. I’d never visited or heard of The Nickel Taphouse, but she encouraged us to go and gave us $20 in $5 coupons to seal the deal. The likelihood that I would have found the Nickel otherwise is pretty low. So many other restaurants, even in Mt. Washington, had so much more buzz. It turned out to be one of very few I would frequent. We fell in love with the place, and it’s been our go-to for dinner with out-of-town visitors and raw-oyster happy hour for the duration of our stay in town.

Restaurants are fighting to catch visitors when they’re only in town, even if it’s just for a weekend. Molly engaged us in conversation, went the extra mile, and got us hooked for a year. That $20 worth of coupons has generated thousands for the Nickel. Had I not found them under the bed, she would have gotten that return on $5! It wasn’t part of a campaign, and it very likely won’t be traced by any analytics.

If you want to achieve unexpected ROI, think about how you can do something unexpected. Start with delighting an individual.

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