A Reader's $2 Bill Story

Yesterday I asked people to send me their $2 bill stories.  I've already gotten several links, tweets and incredible emails, like the one below [reprinted anonymously with the writer's permission]. Keep them coming to @iansohn or iansohn2[at]yahoo.[com].

In the summer of 2006, my then-girlfriend, now wife, was doing a business school internship in Southern California.  I went out to visit her in Laguna Beach for a weekend.  We were just wandering along the beachside shops, bars and restaurants when we decided to stop in to one of the local haunts for a beer.

There was an older gentleman sitting at the bar enjoying a cold beverage of his own.  We casually chatted with him and it turned out he was a local retiree.

We noticed that he had a stack of $2 bills with him.  My girlfriend commented that her dad used to always give her $2 bills in cards and presents when she was a kid and how she always loved them.

So I exchanged with the man a $10 bill for five $2 bills.  My girlfriend and I each took one and folded it up and put it in our wallets.  It was in my wallet when I proposed to her.  It was in my wallet when we got married.  It's still in my wallet today and I'm sure it will be there in November when our first child is born.  And likewise for her (although I doubt she'll have it on her during the delivery!).

Sometimes when I'm trying to fish something out of my wallet, the $2 bill will slide out instead.  It always reminds me of that leisurely, sun-soaked day on the shores of Laguna Beach and everything that has transpired between us since then.

There's something about how $2 bills always seem to be so crisp and fresh that makes them seem somehow superior to other bills.  And the depiction of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the back lends it an air of importance, I believe.

By far my favorite denomination...

Tell Me Your $2 Bill Story

Calling all brands and agencies ...

Based on some really positive feedback on a few preliminary posts about the magic of $2 bills, I've decided to craft a proper presentation [for what purpose, I'm not exactly sure yet].  As I start to draft the presentation I would love to incorporate your killer examples.  If you're so inclined, shoot me a note to iansohn2 [at] yahoo [dot] com and I'll include them [with full credit]. 

Below is something I just cobbled together to give you a sense of where I'm going with this.


When I was a kid – don’t remember exactly when or on what occasion – my aunt Trudy gave me a $2 bill.

It was folded up, not in any special keepsake holder or container.  Exactly the kind of thing that gets shredded or lost over the years.

But for some reason I kept that $2 bill.  Through highschool.  College.  Moving to New York (and five moves during my time in New York).  It was always folded up in one box or another, along with things like my social security and insurance cards.

What was it about that $2 bill that compelled me to hang onto it?  It wasn’t worth anything – well at least not any more than $2.

A few months ago a friend from work mentioned she was in a taxi and the cab driver gave her change in $2 bill.  She was nearly giddy.  I mean, she stopped by my office just to tell me about it.  Nothing at all remarkable about the taxi ride, other than the denomination in which she received her change.

And then it happened again to someone else I know.  Again, nothing remarkable about the taxi ride other than the $2 bill change given.

And it got me thinking … the $2 bill is something magical, isn’t it?

Something that somehow seems to exceed its value.  

Something readily available to all of us, yet delightfully surprising upon receipt.

Something with talk value.

Something we want others to experience.

And that got me thinking even more … what if a business could harness the power of the $2 bill to delight their customers?  To make them feel special?  To make them want to tell others about it? 

The concept is so devilishly simple, isn’t it?

$2 Bill Update

The original inspiration for my $2 bill series was a colleague telling me a story about an otherwise unremarkable taxiride, where the driver gave her a $2 bill for change.

As I asked, "When was the last time you proactively told someone about a taxi ride where nothing happened?"

In just the past two weeks I've serendipitously stumbled across two $2 bill mentions I wanted to share.

Ricky Engelberg tweeted this.  Again, he took the time to Tweet about a cab ride just because the driver gave him change in $2 bills.  Amazing to think about how you can harness this spirit for your business.


And just recently, Taco Bell launched a $2 menu.  As part of the launch they've initiated a tongue-in-cheek lobbying effort to encourage the Federal Reserve to put more $2 bills in circulation.


You can find my other $2 bill posts here.

Keep sending me examples and I'll be sure to post them.

In-N-Out Burger's $2 Bill

If you've never been to In-N-Out [I'm truly sorry for you] you might not know that the menu is very limited - single, double, cheese/no cheese. 

But there's always been a secret menu - one that doesn't appear anywhere* but most regular patrons know about.  Grilled cheese and Animal style are probably the most popular.  I don't want to tell you too much.  Wouldn't want to ruin your discovery [though here's a pretty extensive list].


*I was a bit disappointed to find a section on In-N-Out's web site that discusses the secret menu.  Seems unnecessary and certainly renders the word 'secret' impotent.

Doubletree's $2 Bill

I recently started a series of blog posts called $2 Bills ... short profiles of those unexpected and delightful things businesses do that makeyou remember and share your experience.  My first post was about Groupon's email unsubscribe page.

The next $2 bill has been around for nearly 30 years.  It's the Doubletree chocolate chip cookie.  Frankly, I think it's the stuff of legends.

Doubltree cookie

Who doesn't like a warm cookie to make them feel a bit closer to home?  Heck, who doesn't like a warm cookie period?  According to the Doubletree Cookie Website the hotel chain:

  • Gives out more than 10.5 million cookies a year;
  • Has given out more than 200 million cookies over the years
  • Has given more than 1 million cookies to "deserving members of the community"

I can'Tweet doubletreet speak to the cookie's business impact. All I can say [having spent my share of nights on the road] is that any time you can convert a weary [and likely skeptical] road warrior into a word-of-mouth advocate you've got a good thing going.

As always, suggestions for future profiles are encouraged.

Groupon's $2 Bill (New Series)

A couple of years ago I wrote a post which read in its entirety:

If I owned a cash business I would always have a register full of $2bills.  $2 bills bring a smile to customers' faces and almost always warrant a mention to someone later on in the day.  So what's your business' $2 bill?

I had all but forgotten about it until  a week ago when a colleague told me a story about an otherwise unremarkable taxi ride, where the driver gave her a $2 bill for change. When was the last time you proactively told someone about a taxi ride where nothing happened? 

That's when it hit me ... I should start a blog series about $2 bills.  Those unexpected and delightful things businesses do that make you remember and share your experience. 

I've got a few examples in the hopper, but please email me at iansohn2 [at] yahoo [dot] com with suggestions and I'll be happy to review/write them up.  

The first one is from Groupon - the collective buying site. Check out what happens when you unsubscribe from Groupon's newsletter [click on the image]:

Picture 1

Wonderfully simple, yet full of personality.  It gets talked about all the time.  Like the taxi ride, how often do you talk about an email unsubscribe page?  Never.  Well check out how people are glowing about it on Twitter. A great example of a $2 bill.