Do you hide promotions from your customers?

I love my local Hobee’s restaurant chain. It has good, healthy food and great service. Today I met my friend Mitch for breakfast there. He’s frequented this Hobee’s at least once a week for 10 years.

When the cheerful server approached us, she looked at me and said, “You get a free piece of coffee cake since you’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt!”

“How great,” I responded, as I love their coffee cake. “I had no idea you were running a Hawaiian shirt promo.”

“It’s only on Fridays in the summer,” she explained. “We all wear Hawaiian shirts on summer Fridays so we give our guests a coffee cake if they join us.”

I asked Mitch, “How come you’re not wearing a Hawaiian shirt?”

He said, “I’ve never heard of this promotion.”

There were no signs anywhere. It wasn’t on the table or on the menu. So this restaurant was missing out on delighting their regular customers by having a promotion that wasn’t communicated.

Perhaps you’re saying, “That way they have to give out fewer coffee cakes.” OK. But the purpose of a promotion is to get people to do what you want. In this case it would be to 1) come in on summer Fridays and 2) join in the festivities by wearing a Hawaiian shirt. By only rewarding those who happened to be wearing the right shirt on a Friday you make it a random reward, not incenting people to do what you want them to do. 

Do you have promotions that you hide from your customers? What’s the purpose of the promo then?


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