Friday, June 18, 2010

Five Questions with Jimmy John’s

After its great "Customer Appreciation Day" promotion in which Chicagoland Jimmy John's offered sub sandwiches for just $1, I wrote to Jimmy John's and asked them to answer five questions about the promotion. The company graciously responded with the following answers:
  1. What were your goals for the promotion and was it a success? Can you give any specifics?
    The goal of our customer appreciation day was exactly that, to show appreciation to our customers. It¹s sharing the love and thanking our loyal JJ fans for keeping us in business for the past 27 years. Hell yea it was a success, did you see those lines?

  2. What type of preparation did you do ahead of time to run the promotion? (Staffing, food preparation, research about other food giveaway promotions, etc.). With last year's disastrous KFC free grilled chicken promotion, I'm highly impressed that you guys pulled off such an awesome food promotion across Chicagoland. You didn't run out of food and your lines moved quickly. How'd you do it?!?!
    Jimmy¹s passion is execution and logistics first and accounting is a close second. He has this so organized and dialed in for all the franchisees that all they have to do is follow Jimmy¹s detailed prep instructions and it flows beautifully. In addition to that, the entire corporate office and Guerrilla Marketing team was represented in 112 of 171 stores in the Chicago DMA, even our President James North was in one of the downtown units as a lead on the cash register. Jimmy is an operating s-o-b!

  3. What, if anything, surprised you about running the promotion?
    People wanting to purchase twenty of them for a buck and bitching at us when we said no. It was in the ad and the rules were clear. If we let people do that we would have run out.

  4. Jimmy John's obviously has a great social media presence. Will you please talk about how you go about merging the brand's social media marketing prowess with more traditional forms of media marketing (like radio)? Specifically, how did you use new and old media to make this promotion successful?
    Oh c¹mon, we can't tell you all our shiznit?

  5. Will there soon be additional Customer Appreciation Days in other cities around the country?
    You bet man, no doubt. But what there won¹t be is a 5 dollar foot long and when you order one it suddenly becomes $6.50 at the register!
Jimmy John's

Add This to Your To-Do List
It's the same as last time: If you're running a promotion at your company, pay close attention to how Jimmy John's ran this promotion: Run it for a limited time, don't require coupons, keep customers engaged and relaxed while they wait, and make the customers pay something.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

$1 Subs Are a Hit at Jimmy John's

Subs So Inexpensive You'll Freak
On June 10, 2010, Jimmy John's restaurants in the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana offered $1 sandwiches from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. as part of Customer Appreciation Day. Unlike the KFC free grilled chicken promotion disaster that occurred last summer (I wrote about it here and here), this promotion was a huge success.

I visited two Jimmy John's in Chicago to check up on the promotion. I visited the one at 28 N. Clark at 11:45 a.m. (view the video above to see the line out the door at that time) and 2:45 p.m. and the one at 216 W. Washington at noon. Both restaurants had massive lines out the door during each of my visits, but the Jimmy John's staff handled the situation beautifully:

  • Neither store ran out of food. My co-worker, who waited in line for 35 minutes to get a $1 sub, reported that employees at the restaurant on Clark were constantly replenishing the supply of fresh vegetables and bread in order to keep customers moving through the line.

  • Employees outside handled crowd control. Both stores in Chicago placed Jimmy John's employees outside of their stores to help keep the crowds in an orderly line. The staffers also handed out menus to customers in line and took the time to explain which sandwiches were being offered at the reduced price.
Behind the scenes, Jimmy John's marketing team set up a great promotion in many ways:
  • No coupons were necessary. Coupons require people to plan ahead. One of the best parts of this promotion was that it was a limited time offer and passer-bys who hadn't previously heard about the promotion could simply get in line and buy a $1 sub.

  • The promotion lasted four hours. We've seen in the past that promotions that require coupons that can be redeemed for up to two weeks cause restaurants to run out of food quickly and then disappoint the rest of their customers for the duration of the promotion. Having a very specific, short promotion let Jimmy John's serve all of its customers and not run out of food. No restaurant can sustain two weeks of a free food promotion, but Jimmy John's showed exactly how to thrive in a four-hour, nearly-free food promotion. Which leads to my next point...

  • The sandwiches weren't free. The difference between free and $1 might seem insignificant, but I think it's very important. Free giveaways put all the responsibility on the company. The customer thinks, "this company owes me something free." When the customer has to pay something — even if it's inexpensive — the company and customer share responsibility. I think this creates happier customers from the start, and ultimately leads to a better promotion.

  • Twitter support. So many people visited the Jimmy John's website during the promotion that it crashed several times. But, Jimmy John's was still able to support their promotion via their Twitter feed.
Congratulations to the team at Jimmy John's for such a great promotion that truly captured the attention of a lot of people. I even got a photo of some Dunkin' Donuts employees waiting in line for their $1 subs.

Add This to Your To-Do List
If you're running a promotion at your company, pay close attention to how Jimmy John's ran this promotion: Run it for a limited time, don't require coupons, keep customers engaged and relaxed while they wait, and make the customers pay something.

There's never a lack of ideas.