Monday, May 25, 2009

Kentucky Grilled Chicken – Part 2

By now, you’ve probably heard about the KFC coupon promotion for a free meal of new Kentucky Grilled Chicken (KGC) that Oprah gave out through her website a few weeks ago. KFC severely underestimated the power of both Oprah and a free meal, and the coupon promotion backfired for the restaurant chain. Read about it in my first post about the KFC coupon.

A Second Chance
I decided to give Kentucky Grilled Chicken another chance. So, my co-worker and I headed back to the only KFC in Chicago’s Loop for lunch last week. We brought with us a new coupon that offered a free KGC meal if we purchased an equivalent one.

We were shocked by what we saw on the store’s door when we arrived to the restaurant. The KFC restaurant has been closed indefinitely by the Cook County Sheriff’s office. (Check out the sign posted on the door in the picture on the right.)


According to some gentlemen standing outside the restaurant who had been working on a construction site nearby, the KFC restaurant had never opened after the first day of Oprah’s initial coupon offer.

Poor Execution
Once again, I’m baffled at the poor execution of the Kentucky Grilled Chicken rollout by KFC:
  1. The new KFC grilled chicken menu items were promoted on Oprah’s show.
  2. Oprah is queen of Chicago.
  3. There is only one KFC in Chicago’s Loop – its busiest lunch spot.
  4. The KFC in the Loop didn’t have grilled chicken on the first day of the promotion and has never been open after the first day of the promotion.
Thanks, but No Thanks
You know the saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I won’t be trying the new KGC any time soon. For the record, on the day that we went to KFC for the second time, the KFC Loop restaurant location was listed on the KFC website. As of today, the restaurant has been taken off of KFC’s website.

Sorry, KFC. Too little, too late.

Add This to Your To-Do List
I said this after my first KFC post and I’ll say it again:

This one’s pretty simple. If you’re planning a special promotion or event – no matter how big or small your organization is – make sure that all involved parties are aware of what they need to do to support the initiative. KFC could have made a big splash in the Loop. Instead, they have upset thousands of potential customers in Oprah’s city. And if history has taught us anything, it’s not to upset Oprah.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The End of the Line

Get in Line
Everybody hates waiting in lines.

That’s why I was so refreshed when I visited Tony & Harry’s Restaurant in the city of Lihue on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. They have the coolest thing I’ve ever seen while waiting in a line to order some food, and I didn’t mind waiting because of it.

Tiny Bubbles
Tony & Harry’s Restaurant has a Playstation connected to a big screen television and a video camera. The camera shows people in line on the big screen and the Playstation superimposes virtual bubbles all over the screen. When someone in line moves around and “hits” the bubbles on the screen, they burst or multiply. It’s really fun.

(That’s me in the photo on the right, taking a picture of myself on the big screen tv with bubbles all around me.)

I had so much fun busting bubbles with my hands, feet, and head, that by the time it was my turn to order, I didn’t even notice that I had been standing in line for five minutes. Everyone that I was with also got in on the bubble-busting action. We had a great time and didn’t mind the wait at all.

If They’re Willing to Wait, Entertain Them
If a customer is willing to wait for your product or service, then they must really like your stuff. Why not give them something fun to do while waiting? It gives them something to tell their friends about and keeps their minds off of the fact that they have to wait. Happy customers make the best customers.

Add This to Your To-Do List
How are your customers made to wait for your products or services?
  • Do they have to stand in a line at lunchtime? Yell out some trivia questions to help them pass the time.

  • Do they have to wait on hold on the phone? Come up with a few quick jokes and record them as your on-hold music track instead of playing the same dry songs that everybody else does.

  • Do your customers have to wait for their products to arrive in the mail? Try this: Take a package, draw a face on it, and put some driving glasses and a scarf on it. Then take a picture of the package behind the wheel of a car. Send your customers an email with the photo attached and tell them that their package is on the way.
Have fun with your customers while they’re waiting. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time to come up with, and it gives customers something to talk about later. What are you doing to entertain your customers while they wait? I’d love to hear your ideas.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Beauty of a Good Print Ad

Gutenberg Would Be Proud
For all the buzz about digital and social media marketing these days, I was really excited to see this Stihl ad in the Wall Street Journal recently. (Forgive the quality of the image – scanning a tall newspaper can be tricky. Click on it to blow it up.)

I am excited by this weed-whacker ad because it re-affirms the qualities of a great print ad that can’t be duplicated in any other medium. This can’t work as a t.v. spot or a banner on a website. It can only work in print, and the execution of the ad is top-notch. It creatively blurs the line between the medium and the advertisement.

The ad is creative, eye-catching, and it made me pause and admire it. I even started reading the article a little bit. It’s nice to see that Stihl put some time and effort into creating an advertisement that earned my attention.

Creativity and Placement
I’ll assume that the target market for a weed-whacker is a male homeowner above the age of 30. I’ll also assume that the majority of WSJ readers are males above the age of 30 – and many of them probably own a home. So, not only is the advertisement well designed, but it’s also placed appropriately.

I’m a fan of a well designed, well placed advertisement in any medium. That’s why I really appreciate the brilliance of this ad. The challenge that we marketers face today is creating ads across the appropriate mediums that that grab our attention like this one does. The best print ad in the world doesn’t matter if it’s placed in the wrong place.

Add This to Your To-Do List
Are your advertisements grabbing your target market’s attention? If not, then you need to look at the places that you’re advertising AND the execution of the advertisement. If you’ve got an execution problem, the solution most likely isn’t a larger font in a magazine or louder music on a radio commercial. It’s creativity, wit, and attention to detail. If you’ve got a placement problem, then you need to figure out how to meet your target audience in the places that they hang out.

Combine great placement with great execution and you’ll be in good shape.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Magical Twist on a Classic

Conjuring up the Spectacular
The Harry Potter edition of the classic board game Clue is fantastic because it exceeded my expectations. Even fans of Clue who have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a movie will enjoy this new take on the game because it’s something new. It’s original.

A Major Makeover
Parker Brothers, the game’s manufacturer, could have simply created a Clue game in which:
  • the suspects are characters from the Harry Potter series
  • the weapons are spells
  • the rooms are located in Hogwarts – the school for witchcraft and wizardry
That would have been enough to sell the game to thousands of Harry Potter fans, but Clue fans wouldn’t have been excited about the game.

Parker Brothers chose to go above and beyond a simple facelift of the game, and they actually spent time thinking about how to improve the game by adding twists from the Harry Potter series. The resulting game is more fun to play than the original Clue, and will sell far better than the simple facelift would have sold.

Elements of Surprise
The Harry Potter version of Clue features a moving game board in which doors to rooms open and close randomly throughout the game, and secret passages constantly appear and disappear. At the beginning of the game, players are given a certain number of “house points.” Throughout the game, players lose those points and if a player loses all of his house points, he is out of the game.

These added game elements make this version of Clue unique and worth purchasing. It’s refreshing to see that a major game manufacturer didn’t take the easy way out. They didn’t just re-brand the game.

They made it special.

Add This to Your To-Do List
Are your products and services exceeding expectations? Are your customers wowed when they do business with you? When your next product catalog arrives in your customer’s mailbox, will he toss it aside because it’s like the rest, or will he stop and say, “now that’s unique!”

Seek to find new ways to exceed customer expectations. Maybe it’s a phone call from the president of the company to thank a few customers. Seek to find new ways to differentiate your products and services and the way in which you present them. Take ten minutes to think about the lessons we can take from Harry Potter Clue and how they might be applicable to your situation.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kentucky Grilled Chicken: A Lesson in Execution

A Great Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Kentucky Fried Chicken offered a coupon that was good for two free pieces of their new “Kentucky Grilled Chicken,” two free sides, and a free biscuit. The coupon had to be printed from a new microsite – between 9:00 a.m on May 5th and 11:59 p.m. on May 6th, but the coupon can be redeemed anytime from May 5th through the 19th.

This promotion was announced on Oprah Winfrey’s show on May 5th, and it received a ton of immediate publicity. I heard about it via word of mouth from a co-worker. Needless to say, once Oprah got involved, word spread like wildfire. Oprah’s website even had a news story on the promotion and a link to the microsite.

Clearly, KFC did a tremendous job generating publicity and word of mouth for this promotion.

Failed Execution

Along with several of my co-workers, I printed the coupon out on Tuesday. I made plans with a friend at work to walk to the only KFC store in the Loop in downtown Chicago to redeem our coupons for lunch on Wednesday – one day after the promotion debuted. The store was 7 blocks from our office, but we thought it’d be fun to try out the new chicken. And, I’m a sucker for a freebee.

When we arrived at the store, we saw several people outside the store and thought that there must be a line out the door – we expected that. However, what we saw instead was a sign on the door that said, “closed for equipment upgrades until May 11th.” Later, we found out that on Tuesday, May 5th – the day the promotion started – a sign was posted on the door saying, “grilled chicken not available here.”

We were stunned. So were the two-dozen other people that showed up to the restaurant within the 30 seconds we stood outside the store trying to figure out what was going on.

Right Hand, Meet Left Hand KFC chose to enlist Oprah’s help in promoting their grilled chicken. Oprah is queen of Chicago, and the busiest place for lunch in Chicago is the Loop. How could the only KFC in the Loop not serve grilled chicken on the day that the promotion was launched, and how could the same store be closed for the first week of the two-week promotion due to equipment upgrades? Even if they weren’t serving grilled chicken, I’m sure that a significant number of people would have thought, “well, I’m here so I might as well buy something.”

This is clearly an example of the folks at the KFC corporate office not getting in touch with the local stores to make sure that their campaign would be executed smoothly at the ground level. And by all accounts, even though this promotion is in its first two days as I write this, it has already been a success in terms of media hits and word of mouth buzz.

The executives at KFC have probably been planning this campaign for months. It’s just a shame that they didn’t help the only store in the Loop keep their doors open so that their hard work could pay off.

Add This to Your To-Do List
This one’s pretty simple. If you’re planning a special promotion or event – no matter how big or small your organization is – make sure that all involved parties are aware of what they need to do to support the initiative. KFC could have made a big splash in the Loop. Instead, they have upset thousands of potential customers in Oprah’s city. And if history has taught us anything, it’s not to upset Oprah.

There’s never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Boxed and Ready to Sell

Boxes are Big Business
A large cardboard box at the self-storage facility just down the street from my home costs $3.50.

My wife rents a storage unit at the facility because she is a sales representative and needs to keep her product samples somewhere secure. There are several other sales reps. like her that store their samples at the same facility.

Every time I visit the storage facility, I see a dumpster full of broken down cardboard boxes that are waiting to be picked up for recycling. The majority of the boxes that I’ve seen in the dumpster appear to be brand new. So, I got to thinking:

Why doesn’t the storage facility sell these boxes at a discounted price to people who need boxes? Why bother to send them to a recycling center when they can first be reused?

Reusing Boxes – A Win-Win Situation

I’m willing to bet that when given a choice, a lot of people who are shopping for cardboard boxes would prefer to pay $2.00 for a gently used large box instead of $3.50 for a brand new box. So, why doesn’t my storage facility buy gently used cardboard boxes from its customers and sell them? If the company paid $0.50 per box and sold them for $2.00 a piece, they’d make quite a profit. It’s a win-win situation for everybody:

  • Current renters of storage units have to do something with their empty boxes, so what’s better than selling them to the storage facility? All things being equal, when given a choice in selecting a storage facility, storage unit renters would surely choose to rent a unit in a facility that would pay its customers for their used boxes.

  • The storage facility would be able to offer box buyers an eco-friendly, less-expensive alternative to purchasing a brand new box. And they’d still sell new boxes to customers who don’t want used boxes. I can only imagine that overall sales would increase.
Add This to Your To-Do List
Take a look at your current business practices. What tasks do your customers complete at your place of business, on your website, or over the phone with you every day? Are there ways to tap into their normal interactions with your company in a way that can generate new lines of business? One idea would be for you to open an “outlet store” on your website to sell products that have been returned for a refund but have slightly damaged packaging. Are there other ideas that you come up with? I’d love to hear them if there are.

There’s never a lack of ideas.