Making an Offer They Can’t Refuse—or Use

by Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

The tension between the marketing function and the operations function has a well-established history. Marketing wants to sell, but operations has to deliver. Sure it’s great to come up with an idea to sell custom-built widgets at a low price with quick delivery. But, ultimately,  someone (operations) actually has to deliver.

On the flip side, operations department heads are sometimes quick to dismiss the ideas of their company’s marketing function out of hand. They can seemingly come up with a million reasons marketing ideas won’t work, or require too much effort. They may sometimes fail to look at the big picture—everyone’s out of a job if we can’t make sales.

A Need for Coordination and Collaboration

Ultimately, it often boils down to a lack of understanding and appreciation on the part of one department for what the other does. This might seem like a lead up to a lengthy discussion of best practices to synchronize the two groups and maximize their collaboration and effectiveness (admittedly a worthwhile topic). But, it’s actually a lead-in to a humorous recent example of how removed and disconnected these two functions can truly be.

As Evelina Nedlund reports for CNN, the marketing team at Chick-fil-A sought to capitalize on an obscure but certainly relevant “national holiday” earlier in November. November 3 is National Sandwich Day. In 2019, November 3 fell on a Sunday. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country are closed on Sundays.

An Honest—but Avoidable—Communication Misstep

But, despite this fact, Chick-fil-A sent out an email to its subscribers which read, “Calling all sandwich lovers. Some prefer it grilled, others fancy the original. No matter which Chick-fil-A sandwich you love, order yours on November 3 for National Sandwich Day.”

Oops.

Chick-fil-A’s marketers can’t necessarily be blamed for not coordinating with operations on every email they send to subscribers. However, if the goal of the message was to possibly drive additional traffic to stores on such an auspicious holiday, it would certainly have been helpful to be aware of store operations—or lack thereof—on that day.

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(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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