Overpromise – Under-deliver?

Apparently KFC’s recent launch of a grilled chicken sandwich so exceeded expectations that KFC ended up damaging relations with consumers, the media¬†and franchisees, according to a recent item in Public Relations Tactics (a PRSA publication).

KFC had offered a special deal on the Oprah Winfrey show to those who downloaded a coupon within a two-day period. They under-estimated both the “power of O” and the “power of free” it seems. They gave away 4 million meals during this two day period, with 6 million coupons still outstanding at the point they cancelled the program. Oops.

  • Consumer with coupons – mad.
  • Franchisees forced to give away lots of sandwiches – mad.
  • Impact on KFC’s reputation – bad.

Lesson for marketers. Make sure you have a good handle on demand before creating a promotion. There are no crystal balls, of course, but I’ve seen this type of thing (albeit on a much, much smaller scale) happen when marketers fail to “crunch the numbers” or even *consider* the numbers when promoting a product or service.

I generally like to “pin down” those I work with to get them to estimate, to the best of their ability, how much capacity they have. So, for instance, if you’re an eye doctor and you’d like to increase appointments, how many appointments can you literally handle during a one-week period. Sometimes crunching the numbers diminishes the size of a campaign significantly!

While it’s true that in some cases, scarcity can increase demand and be a “good thing” – thing popular children’s toys/game during the holiday season – in most cases, and particularly for small businesses, offering more than you can deliver is the last thing you want to do.

  • How much do you have to offer (capacity)?
  • How many people are you reaching with your promotion?
  • What percentage of those people might you estimate to act?
  • Can you meet that demand?

Important questions. Certainly challenging to answer. But definitely worth the effort.

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