How Chipotle Sold Sofritas to a Nation of Meat Lovers

A Sofritas burrito from Chipotle

Who can sell braised tofu to a nation of meat lovers? Chipotle can.

The fast casual Mexican food chain introduced Sofritas last year in select markets but faced a serious problem, at least in the US. Americans eat meat — and a lot of it. Who wants some tasty braised tofu?

So Chipotle got creative and came up with the perfect promotion. The company was so sure that people would love Sofritas that it offered you a free meal if you’d try the strange, new menu item. Come in on Monday, January 26th, order Sofritas and receive a free entree of your choice.

Why was this promotion so genius?

  • Serious sales spike: In order to get your free entree, you had to try Sofritas on January 26th. Not only did the restaurant chain enjoy a serious sales spike, it drove traffic through its doors on a traditionally slow day for restaurants — Monday.
  • Easy (but not too easy) redemption: All you had to do to receive your free entree was bring back your receipt, beginning the next day. Easy enough, but I’m sure a lot of people failed to return to collect their freebie, so Chipotle saved some major change.*
  • Spread out the hit: You could redeem your free entree beginning the next day, January 27th, through February 28th, so you had an entire month to cash in. Also, Chipotle spread out its financial hit over a full month instead of losing massive sales in one day.
  • Target the right audience: Why didn’t Chipotle just offer free Sofritas on one day? For all the reasons mentioned above AND who the company was trying to attract. The restaurant chain wanted loyal customers to try a new menu item, casual customers to find a new favorite — and come more often — and new customers to add Chipotle to their restaurant rotation. In other words, people who would continue to give the company business and more than pay for the free meal — not people simply looking for free food.
  • Strong social sharing: How did I find out about this promotion? The same way most did — through social media. Friends like to notify their friends of new opportunities and good deals, so this promotion spread like crazy. Chipotle enjoyed strong digital sentiment and online community growth.

The result? A huge success! The promotion drew so many takers that some restaurants ran out of Sofritas, which did generate a small amount of negative social reaction. (Remember, a ‘good problem’ to have is still a problem.) However, the majority of people who ventured out and tried Sofritas actually liked them. Imagine that!

When you face the daunting challenge of introducing a new product or concept to your audience, remember how Chipotle sold vegan fare to a nation of meat lovers — and they loved it.

Chime In on Chipotle, Tofu, Promotions & More

Did you try Sofritas on January 26, 2015?

If so, did you return to redeem your free entree?

Have you had Sofritas again?

How have you encouraged a skeptical audience to try a new product or service?

*Only 6.6% of on-receipt coupons were redeemed in 2012, per Inmar 2014 Coupon Trends.

An almost pescatarian,
Jaime

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Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

Facebook for Business announced updates to Pages’ messaging capabilities earlier this month, and we’re all for making communication between brands and their audiences easier. But can it be too easy?

“Over a billion people visit Pages every month looking for more information from businesses.”

-Facebook for Business

Are you utilizing the enhanced Pages messaging capabilities?

Picture courtesy of Facebook for Business // text & thumbs up added by author

We’re always fans of helping brands and consumers communicate more clearly, so we love a number of these updates.

Send private messages to a Page from a local awareness ad.

You can now add a “Send Message” call-to-action button to your local awareness ads. What a great idea! Encourage prospects to initiate a private conversation with your business to learn more about your products or services, RSVP for an event or to place an order. A private conversation fuels a more intimate connection between brand and consumer. We’ve already begun brainstorming ideas on how to best utilize this new feature for our business and clients alike.

Reply to comments privately with a message.

We love this one! If a customer (or prospect) posts to your wall, you’re now able to respond privately in Messenger. The message links to the original comment, so the person who posted the question understands why he’s receiving a message from you. Plus, a notation is left under the person’s comment on the page letting others know that you responded privately and didn’t ignore him. This new feature applies to many situations, including order tracking and quoting.

Is the "Very responsive to messages" badge helpful to small businesses?

Picture courtesy of Facebook for Business

“Very responsive to messages” badge

Here’s the new feature we’re not sure about. We love prompt responses and timely communication, but does every question require an immediate answer? Pages that respond to 90% of messages with a median response time of less than five minutes will now showcase a “Very responsive to messages” badge.

As a small business owner, are you glued to your social networks 24/7? Whether we’re waiting on customers in our store or working on a client project, sometimes its best to give our full attention to the task at hand (like driving, for instance). Is it even advisable to jump at every social notification during these times? We’re interested in hearing from small business owners and professionals on this one. Will this new feature help or hurt small businesses?

“Messaging has become a preferred communication channel for people, and now people and businesses on Facebook can start real-time conversations with each other in more ways.”

-Facebook for Business

Page admin tools for managing messages

As a Page admin, how can you handle the increase in messages these updates should deliver? Saved replies, for one. While your communication with clients and prospects should be personal, it will be handy to save replies to common questions for easy retrieval later. Only save the replies you’ll use most often though. Otherwise, you’ll be digging through so many saved replies to find the one you want that this cool feature won’t be helpful. You’ll be able to edit saved replies, so you can still personalize your message.

Related reading: Facebook Messenger Is Now a Platform — And Open For Business

Comment on Facebook Pages’ new messaging capabilities

Which one of these updates will most help your business?

What do you think about the “Very responsive to messages” badge?

Do you manage your company’s Facebook page or do you delegate it to someone else?

p.s. If you need help making Facebook work for you business, we’d love to talk!

A fan of communication,
Jaime

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Dear Loyal Readers, Thank You!

Danke. Grazie. Gracias. Thank you. 

They are simple words yet heartfelt.

Thank you!

When I started this blog nearly three and a half years ago, I had no idea what to expect. It was a crazy time, equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I was starting a business, starting a blog and walking into the unknown.

The CCC blog isn’t big by any means, but I’m so grateful. We hit 230 followers recently, and I want to say that I appreciate each and every one of you. Whether you’ve been here for years or months, I hope you find our content valuable.

Clearly Conveyed Communications exists to give brands a voice, but you give me a voice. Your questions, your interest, your likes and shares encourage me to keep writing and find others who can provide a unique voice and valuable content for you. Thank you to our awesome contributors!

Lately I’ve been thinking about the future of this blog and how we can continue to provide value to our loyal readers. You may see some changes, probably minor, in the coming months but we’ll continue to give you the latest news, updates and insight in the marketing, writing and social media arenas.

Thank you, loyal readers, for sticking by my — and CCC’s — side.

Best wishes,
Jaime

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Why Grammar Still Matters (Even on a Smartphone)

Does your email signature on your smartphone contain the following disclaimer?

Sent from [insert smartphone model here]. Please excuse misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Sorry, it won’t save you.

This post is being typed on a smartphone, but I don’t expect you to excuse any errors. In fact, I’m embarrassed when I spot an error, even a minor one, in an old post.

Today, even in our 24/7, hyper charged world, grammar matters. Why?

Great advice from Grammarly: Spellcheck yourself before you wreck yourself.

1) It impacts your credibility.

Want to be a thought leader or subject matter expert? That’s hard when people struggle to read your thoughts. No matter the subject, readers will judge you for misspelled words and missing punctuation, which will change the conversation from what you had intended. Keep the focus on your knowledge, so you can impress.

2) Bad grammar makes you look unprofessional.

Go ahead: submit a resume, cover letter or business proposal with grammatical errors. You probably won’t be receiving good news. Business emails, texts and letters also reflect on you, so take time to proofread. It could be the difference between a thriving partnership or career and a missed opportunity.

Read: The Power of the (Red) Pen

3) It screams “stop getting social with us.”

We live in a digital world, so businesses need to get social to survive — and thrive. Customers, fans and prospects won’t share your posts if they’re chock full of grammatical errors. Already this week, I’ve been disappointed to see major grammar gaffes in posts I wanted to share, so I refrained. Lost advertising and missed opportunities don’t help businesses grow.

4) Bad grammar is bad for business.

In a recent Grammarly poll, 63% of respondents said they would hesitate to buy a product with grammatical errors. Several respondents even gave examples of what products they have passed up due to poor spelling or punctuation. Think about it. Wouldn’t you wonder about the quality of a product if there was a noticeable spelling error or poor grammar?

But I’m not a writer, you say. The fact is that most business professionals write more than ever today for the company blog, your LinkedIn profile or even an online portfolio. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of emails, social media and other communication.

Read: 4 Quick and Easy Ways to Make Your Business Writing Better

So take some time to understand the writing process or find someone to handle it for you. Don’t laugh; it’s no different than taking your car to a mechanic to have it repaired or hiring an accountant to mind your business finances.

You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your craft. Don’t ruin it with bad grammar!

%$#^%#$&%

p.s. If you’re looking for a professional to craft your prose, or even spruce things up, we’d love to help! Not sure what you need? Let’s talk. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on the wonderful world of writing.

A writing queen,
Jaime

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Is Gossip Good for Business?

"Gossip Girls" by Art G. via CC BY 2.0

Gossip is a dirty word. It’s condemned by parents, community leaders and business professionals the world over. Yet, here’s an interesting tidbit: it’s essential to our way of life. What?!

“Even today the vast majority of human communication — whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns — is gossip. It comes so naturally to us that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.”

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Harari, PhD, argues that Homo sapiens (that would be us!) survived and even thrived when other human species failed due to our unique language capabilities, including the ability to gossip.

It’s not as crazy as you may think. When you break it down, gossip is conversation about other people. Who to trust, who has the best fresh vegetables and who is unsavory. As a small business owner, I want to know about a customer of other businesses who doesn’t pay their bills or a potential business partner who doesn’t know what ethical means. That’s knowledge that may save me lost revenue, lost time and serious aggravation down the road.

“The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end. Reliable information about who could be trusted meant that small bands could expand into larger bands, and Sapiens could develop tighter and more sophisticated types of cooperation.”

It’s similar to the proverbial ‘water cooler’ in the office. You may not want to get involved in office politics but that decision can derail your career. How often do employees label a manager or supervisor aloof or out of touch when he or she doesn’t have a beat on the pulse of the office? You need to know what’s going on — to some extent — in your coworkers’ and employees’ lives. As a business owner, I would even extend that to business partners and clients. It allows you to understand a situation, show empathy and act appropriately.

Is Gossip Good for Business?

Are you familiar with the gossip theory (in relation to evolution)?

Have you been affected by office politics — positively or negatively?

Is gossip good for business?

p.s. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a great read for history buffs and business professionals alike. Want an inkling into what makes people tick? You’ll get it here. Both quotes in this post are from this book.

p.p.s. Love this post’s featured image? Learn more about “Gossip Girls” by Art G. here. It’s used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Cheers,
Jaime

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Sunshine Award Nomination From Ahh The Simple Life

Passions are meant to be embraced...

CCC is honored to accept the Sunshine Award from Ahh the Simple Life! It’s an award one blogger gives to other bloggers “who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Carol Preibis, co-founder of Ahh the Simple LIfe, is a contributor to the CCC blog and also recently published an eGuide, Living a Good Life: Live a Meaningful, Happy and Fulfilling Life, which we reviewed here. Check it out!

Living a Good Life by Carol Ann Preibis

Are you living a good life?

Read Ahh the Simple Life’s nominating post (and learn more about Carol!) here.

*** How does the Sunshine Award work? ***

Upon nomination, bloggers accepting the Sunshine Award should:

  • thank the nominating blog and answer the questions it posed
  • nominate other bloggers
  • ask the bloggers you nominate the same number of questions as you received
  • notify the bloggers you have nominated

*** Ahh the Simple Life Asks and CCC Answers ***

1) Why did you begin blogging, and what keeps you going?

I started the CCC blog on April 7, 2012, during the formation of my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications. Our goal has always been to inform and educate our loyal readers in the ever-changing areas of marketing, writing and social media, although sometimes we take the scenic route.

“Where else can you read about MacGyver, Marketing and Leg Lamp Cookies?”

It’s been a strange and wild ride, but we hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. Sometimes we wonder what kind of impact we’re making, so it’s always refreshing to hear from you!

2) What is your favorite topic to write about? 

Although the diversity of the CCC blog seems to be a big draw, I love to write, even about writing. Maybe especially about writing. Our series on the writing process is my favorite series to date on this blog.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process. Have you read it?

3) What is your favorite inspirational film? 

While Rocky’s victory over Apollo Creed is the epitome of the classic underdog story, I love Field of Dreams. (We even blogged about it, in relation to blogging of course.) Not only does this movie focus on baseball, it’s message of being selfless and following your dreams still resonates today.

Let’s face it: some people will think you’re crazy for following your dreams, and listening to a voice in your cornfield ranks right up there.

My favorite inspirational film outside of the sports world is Goodwill Hunting.

4) How would you describe your perfect day? 

My perfect day would begin when I wake up naturally, no alarm in sight. After taking in the amazing view, I’d saunter downstairs to brew some espresso for a delicious, handcrafted latte, which I’d enjoy with fresh fruit and peanut butter on toast. The rest of my perfect day would be spent reading, writing and enjoying nature, via a trail run or hike. After a vigorous swim (and maybe some paddle boarding), we’d grill some mouth-watering fish for dinner and sit around the fire, toasting s’mores and telling stories.

5) What is the greatest challenge facing humanity today?

While our challenges are numerous, so many come back to the massive (and growing) income inequality problem. It’s disturbing how quickly people label someone not firmly upper middle class as lazy or ignorant (or both). Teachers, social workers and entrepreneurs may be some of the hardest-working people you meet, but their skills aren’t valued in our society nearly as much as professional athletes and rock stars. (No, all entrepreneurs aren’t Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg.) It’ll be interesting to see how this issue affects all of us in the coming years.

6) If you could travel anywhere on the globe, where would you go?

I would love to travel nonstop, experiencing other cultures and traditions, although I would make Italy (or a tropical island) my home base. I’ve long been interested in exploring my Italian roots, and I love water. Someday, I’ll wake up to a beautiful water view.

*** 6 Questions for CCC’s Nominees ***

  1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
  2. What activity makes you happy?
  3. What’s your favorite song, and why?
  4. What’s one thing that you have learned this year?
  5. Who has been a mentor, role model or hero at any time during your life?
  6. What’s something that your blogging audience doesn’t know about you?

*** CCC’s Sunshine Award Nominees ***

Seyi Sandra at seyisandradavid

Lesley Carter at Bucket List Publications

Tyler Pedersen at The ancient eavesdropper

Lyla Larimore at A Chief’s Wife’s Heart’s ‘aFire

While our nominees are under no obligation to acknowledge or accept their Sunshine Award, we’re grateful of what they bring to the blogosphere. Take a few minutes to visit their blogs and explore what makes them tick. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Congratulations to our nominees, and a heartfelt thank you to Carol Preibis at Ahh the Simple Life for the nomination. One of the biggest blessings of blogging is the fellow bloggers that you meet, and Carol is at the top of my list.

We’d also like to thank our loyal readers! Without you, we’d be writing to ourselves in a public forum. We hope that you continue to find our content valuable and take a moment to drop us a note once in awhile. In turn, we’ll keep on keeping on trying to educate, inform, entertain and inspire.

Cheers,
Jaime

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4 Tips To Succeed In Business I Picked Up at Garage Sales

Coolest @Lamp Ever by Tojosan via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Four years ago, my family and I decided to host a multi-household garage sale. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of our lesser used wares and get together (mostly the latter). Of course, I decided to dig deeper to get the most out of our time and efforts. I was surprised by what I found.

Are you a garage saler (or sailor)?

‘Garage saling’ (or sailing) is a thing. There are people who plan their weekends (or day trips) around hitting garage sales and discovering hidden treasures. (Note that I have various hobbies that people find weird, so I’m not making fun of anyone here.) As I dug deeper, I discovered that serious garage salers (or sailors) handle their business like a business.

Here’s what I learned from them that you can use to succeed in business:

  • Have a plan: Garage salers like to browse the Friday paper’s Classified section to form a plan. Are some areas hosting multiple sales? Are they looking for specific items? There are a number of websites that promote garage sales now too, although I’ve received a bigger return on investment advertising in the local paper.

Know where your audience is, so you can target your marketing efforts. You’ll receive a larger ROI for your efforts.

  • Trust your gut: While serious garage salers have a plan, they also improvise. Maybe they pass a sign for another sale (or great local cafe) and decide to make a detour. You never know what you’ll find when you open yourself up to new experiences.

Planning for your business is necessary, but so is adaptation and flexibility. Because life and business rarely go according to plan…

  • Know when to negotiate: People think that garage salers like to negotiate everything. Selling something for 50¢? They’ll want it for a quarter. That’s not true, at least from my experience. Serious garage salers know when to negotiate and when to save their time and energy. Antique furniture? Let’s talk. An almost-new travel mug for 50¢? Consider it sold.

Don’t be an amateur. Know when to negotiate! Think value, not cheap.

  • Get your timing down: I would love to steal a line from our garage sale ads for my business meetings: “No early birds, please.” While the early bird may get the worm, people who show up at garage sales during setup get a cold shoulder and a frown. No, we have no idea where the [insert item from ad] is right now, but we’ll know in a half hour when we open for business.

If showing up for a business meeting 5 minutes early is ‘on time,’ then showing up 30 minutes early is unprofessional, not impressive.

In summary, have a plan but trust your gut. Know when to negotiate and when to save your time and energy. Be on time but don’t be excessively early. It’s amazing what you can learn about business from life when you open your eyes and take a look around.

Are you a serious garage saler (or sailor)?

What other tips would you add for successful garage saling (and business)?

p.s. The Shine Family Garage Sale has become an annual tradition. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop on by!

p.p.s. Learn more about the awesome featured image for this post here.

Garage Sale Hostess with the Mostess,
Jaime

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Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

The Man. Big Brother. The eye in the sky. Whatever you call it, it’s watching you. (Cue The Police — the band, that is.)

We’ve touched on the issue of privacy in a digital world before, but it’s worth revisiting as technology continues to improve. The issue comes from balancing convenience and maintaining any privacy whatsoever. Where’s the line in the (digital) sand? When will we know when it has been crossed?

“It straddles the line of creepy and cool.”  –Jeff Bakalar, CNET Senior Editor

As CBS News reported, the new Google timeline tracks — and archives — every move you make. Before you completely freak out, note that your timeline is visible only to you, and the search giant does allow you to opt out of being tracked. Of course, that may hinder any location-based services you utilize, such as Google Maps.

Understand that this isn’t a Google issue, or a Facebook issue; it’s a human issue. Do we jump all in to utilize the conveniences that technology offers? Do we maintain any privacy at all? Does it matter anymore?

Sure, you can opt out of the Internet entirely, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. According to a Pew Research study released last week, 15% of American adults don’t use the Internet at all. While that’s a substantial drop from a 2000 study (48%), it’s still shocking to most of us. How do they manage? What do they do for a living?

“In our ever-more wired world, connectivity is crucial for access to jobs, government services, health care, and information—as well as for the education and skills training of younger Americans.”  –Julia Greenberg, WIRED staff writer

So the question is where’s your line? Do you have one? Have you thought about it?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s a personal decision like what you wear or the music you listen to.

Let’s discuss; weigh in with your opinion. Where’s your line?

p.s. If you’re now humming “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, here you go. Enjoy!

An old school soul living in a digital world,
Jaime

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