As marketer, we work so hard to get a prospect into our business, and have them opt-in, become a paying customer, or try our product. What happens from there, however, is a different story.
Imagine that your business is a bucket. You pour customers into the top, and hope to retain as many as possible. Now image that your bucket has a small hole in the side and customers are leaking out and you have to continually market to put more into the top.
Now image that bucket has lots of holes, and some of them are BIG holes, letting boatloads of paying customers with cash in hand pour out the sides and away from your business. That’s what can happen to all of us in our businesses, and it happens to big business, too.
What follows are three marketing campaigns that were excellent at driving traffic to a business, but fell down from there leaving heaping mounds of money pouring out of the bucket.
As a marketing consultant, I find it’s my duty – my obligation – to my clients to do research “in the field” by responding to various marketing offers and reporting back on my findings. Sometimes, these involve getting free lunch. Tough job, I know.
During the 2009 Super Bowl, Denny’s advertised their economic stimulus package offering a free Grand Slam breakfast (two pancakes, two eggs, two pieces of sausage and two pieces of bacon) to all of America at any Denny’s nationwide on February 3rd between the hours of 6am to 2pm.
Denny’s got it’s own Grand Slam when media – print, online, television, radio, and social media – nationwide fanned the flames of their offer and their stores had lines down the streets and around the corner waiting for tables to get the free meal. (The photo below is from the Boston Herald / Associated Press and shows the line shortly after 6am in Irvine, CA)
According to CNN:
Denny’s, which has 1,541 restaurants, predicts it will likely have served about 1,400 people per location the day of the promotion, more than five times the normal volume. Nationwide, the company expected about 1.5 million visitors between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., but it may have seen more than 2 million.
I met up with a friend at Denny’s shortly after 1:00pm, hoping to miss the breakfast and lunch crowd, and we were the last to be seated at 2:00pm when the offer expired and everyone behind us in line was turned away.
Points for Denny’s for getting us in the door, but… that’s where the whole offer fell apart.
Denny’s did nothing to get us to opt-in to an email list so they could send us offers in the future, despite the fact that they have these sort of offers on their homepage.
They didn’t offer a “bounce back” coupon to entice me to come back again. They didn’t try and upsell us once in the store with anything beyond a snarled offer of “Coffee? *snarl*”.
We got our free lunch (we tipped our waitress, of course) and left, and I haven’t been back to a Denny’s since because they only thought as far as the one big day of PR.
iHop made a very similar offer, creating Free Pancake Day on February 24th offering a free shortstack of 3 pancakes between 7am and 10pm. Points for extending their hours so they weren’t slammed until 2pm and then dead the rest of the day. Points also for having a bit more of a table-side upsell, and table tents with special menu items. And lastly, points for tying their promotion to a charity to support the Children’s Miracle Network. Their goal was to raise an even $1mm. They ended up raising $1.3mm.
I’ll pick up on the other two marketing campaigns gone wrong in my next two blog posts, including one local bay area business that screwed up so royally I fear to calculate just how much money they lost.