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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Wristbands: Carrying Your Message for Miles (and Years)

When the Livestrong Foundation (formerly known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation) launched the iconic yellow silicone wristband in 2004 as a fundraising initiative, I hoped it would raise some money for a worthy cause. I had no idea that it would catch on across the country — and around the world — as one of the hottest promotional products around. To date, over 80 million Livestrong bands have been sold, inspiring countless other charitable organizations, companies and brands to share their message in this popular manner.

silicone wristbands

Silicone wristbands are so popular even Elvis has his eye on them.

 Like so many others, I thought this trend would never last. Who would want to wear these promotional wristbands? Nearly everyone, it turns out. From young to old and red to blue, people of all ages, nationalities, genders, political beliefs and lifestyles want to rock a wristband. That’s one of many reasons the silicone wristband is here to stay. Ten years later, this staple promotional product is produced in a plethora of colors promoting metro parks to marathons and everything in between.

If you’re interested in promoting your company or brand with a reminder around the wrist, keep the following variables in mind:

  • decoration method
  • imprint location
  • imprint colors
  • band sizes
  • band colors
  • packaging options
  • quantity
  • in-hands date

All of these factors can affect your pricing, and different options make sense for different objectives.

In addition to exposure, silicone wristbands are also helpful at events. Hand them out to attendees at concerts, conferences and sporting events to easily identify who should be admitted and who shouldn’t. They’re durable, easily spotted and can be kept long after the event for continued exposure and as a keepsake.

Whatever your message is, it’ll go far on a silicone wristband.

Weigh In

What silicone wristbands are in your collection?

Are you surprised at this product’s staying power or did you think it would be a hit?

When did you get your first silicone wristband?

Have you promoted your brand, company, cause, organization or event with one?

Rockin’ the wristband,
Jaime

We don’t have wristbands, but we do have social networks. Connect with CCC!
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And the winners are…

CCC Fan Appreciation Contest

Last week, we held the CCC Fan Appreciation Contest on our Facebook page to help celebrate our one-year anniversary as a company. (Check out our first blog post, appropriately entitled An Introduction.)

Clearly Conveyed Communications

We’re celebrating our one-year anniversary!

Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the contest to make it a success! We always appreciate you taking the time to engage with and share our content.

Drumroll please…

The winners of the inaugural CCC Fan Appreciation Contest are:

  • Rich Mistkowski
  • Eric Brooks
  • William Adair

Congratulations! Rich, Eric and William have won a $10 Starbucks or iTunes gift card.

Leg Lamps

We thought about giving away leg lamps but weren’t sure if they were just our taste. 🙂


Future Contests, Giveaways & Compelling Content

Keep an eye on this blog and our other social media platforms for future contests, giveaways and compelling content.

Join the conversation with CCC: 
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Speaking of future contests and giveaways… what prizes are you most interested in? What types of contests do you like to enter? Chime in with your thoughts, so we can make our contests engaging and fun.

Speaking of compelling content… what type of content do you find most useful? We share a variety of marketing, social media, personal branding, writing and business tips with a side of personal reflection thrown in. What are we missing? What wouldn’t you miss?

Your thoughts, opinions and suggestions are greatly appreciated! Drop a comment below or hit us up on another social network.


What We Do — And Would Love to Help You With

We’d love to do business with you to help you focus on what you do best. Please keep us in mind for your marketingwriting or personal branding projects! Not sure if we handle something? Just ask; we’ll be happy to discuss a project, give you a quote or offer a tip or two.
Happy Friday!
Jaime

Special Offers: Are You Engaging Customers or Just Irritating Them?

It’s that time of year! During the Holiday shopping season, companies love to entice deal-hungry consumers with special offers to grab their share of the pie.

Facebook page offers. Mobile discount codes. Coupons, special discounts or gift cards with purchases.

These promotions can be a great way to interact with fans and create ambassadors for your brand. Or you can turn off regular customers, who will instead share their negative experiences. It all depends on implementation.

Implementation? Unfortunately, this extremely important part of the marketing process often doesn’t come up in the marketing department while great ideas are being kicked around. How will your customers redeem your special offer? Will you make it easy or painful? Implementation can be the difference between your customers returning or moving on to your competitors.

Facebook Offers

Has your company experimented with Facebook offers? Have you claimed any?

Case Study 1     (Created Friction)

For example, a major retailer offered a $10 gift card if you spent $50 in the store during a 3-day span via its Facebook page. What a fun idea! Engage your customers on social media and encourage them to purchase now. Upon redeeming the offer on Facebook, I received an email to show the cashier in the store. When I checked out, I noticed that the offer didn’t automatically ring up once I eclipsed the amount needed as it has with past promotions. While showing the cashier the offer email (which she was not aware of at all), we noted that no bar code or special code was included.

The cashier had no idea how to ring up the gift card in the system and actually mentioned the email might be spam. Once I assured her that it was a valid offer from the company’s Facebook page, she directed me to the customer service desk. The two ladies there were actually aware of the offer but neither knew how to ring it up either. Finally, they offered to refund me $10 from my purchase, which I appreciated.


Case Study 2     (Created Friction)

Another leading retailer came up with the novel concept of distributing small Holiday-themed pins in its stores. Customers could pick up these pins at checkout or even stop in to pick some up without a purchase. They had fun designs, and some people really enjoy collecting little keepsakes  (or giving them to others). Each pin had a code on the back, which you had to enter at a website to see what you had won. Prizes ranged, but many were small gift certificates in the $5 – 10 range. After unveiling what you had won, your prizes (i.e. gift certificates) were emailed to you. There was fine print, of course, including that the certificates could not be combined on one order.

Of course, some people ended up collecting several pins and amassing a number of small gift certificates. When they came to the store to shop, they wanted to use all of their certificates, of course. In order to do that, many people had to pay for most of their items as separate orders. Picture this: a retail establishment already busy with the Holiday shopping crowd further slowed with customers checking out 5, 10 or even 20 times a piece.

While I love the pin idea, did anyone think through implementation? Maybe they did and didn’t think the long lines and slow checkout process would deter customers. But of course there were several impatient (and unhappy) customers around, some who would undoubtedly share their experience with friends, family and social networks. Add to this scenario a mobile code discount that the associates weren’t aware of how to ring up, and I’m sure you can picture the scene.


Case Study 3
     (Nice & Easy)

This fall, Starbucks offered a LivingSocial deal to purchase a $10 e-card for only $5. Being an avid espresso fan, I bought. Not only did I receive a deal, I was also introduced to Starbucks’ e-gift cards (yes, I’m a little behind on these things). How convenient to just scan my phone when paying and having the amount automatically updated. After registering the card, I receive rewards on my purchases using it and can easily reload with two clicks (or set up automatic reloading).

This offer was easy to redeem, saves Starbucks money (no physical gift cards to print) and saves me the hassle of remembering where I put the gift card. I’ve now downloaded the Starbucks app and regularly reload my card in order to earn rewards. All from a harmless little LivingSocial deal…

Takeaway

I highlighted these three situations because they are fresh and relevant. The first two companies eventually made good on their offers, so I’m not looking to badmouth either of them (hence no company names). The point is that implementation is a key part of any marketing offer, special promotion or customer engagement strategy and can be the difference in success or failure.

The more friction that you create at customer touch points, the more you encourage them to take their business elsewhere.

What’s your take? 

Is a specific experience redeeming a special offer memorable to you (either good or bad)?

Do you take advantage of these types of offers? Why or why not?

Are there any specific types of offers that are more enticing to you?

Finally, what successful promotions have your company run? What are some tips that you’ve learned along the way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so we can further discuss the role that implementation plays in special offers. Thanks for stopping by!

Image credit: Entrepreneur
Stay warm! (If you live in a warm weather year ’round locale, then bah humbug. Ha!)

Jaime

Rage Against The Political Machine — 5 Takeaways for Your Marketing Efforts

I’m not a political junkie, but I do consider myself a well-informed voter. I vote for each candidate individually, not strictly along party lines, and actually put some time and thought into my decisions. Throw in the fact that I’m an advertising major, and you probably figure I can’t get enough of the campaign season. Right?

Nixon campaigns

Wrong. When I cast my ballot today, I not only felt a sense of pride about participating in the electoral process, but also a sense of relief that the annoying attack ads, endless array of (bad) direct mail pieces and make-my-head-explode robo calls would be coming to a halt. I love America, but sometimes I swear political campaigns are the least effective advertising anywhere.

Surprisingly, there are actually some good strategies to follow coming out of political advertising, and of course, there are other strategies going on that you should run away from as fast as you can. Below are five takeaways — good and bad — from the political advertising machine.

1) DO Brand Yourself –> OK, you don’t have to stick with yard signs and bumper stickers. There are thousands upon thousands of promotional items that you can brand with your logo and/or message. Why promotional products? Because they work. The statistics abound but consider this:

82.6% of people can recall the company and brand on their promotional product and 50% have a favorable impression of the advertiser. To take it further, 83% of people like promotional products and 58% keep them for one year or longer. How’s that for effective?

2) DO Collaborate/Partner –> Find companies with similar audiences to spread the love, cut costs and increase exposure. For example, the Akron Public Schools (APS) had a new levy on the ballot, which they desperately needed passed. They worked with a popular local race (the Project Homeless Connect 10k & 5k) to further promote their cause. An eye-catching direct mail piece that explained exactly how the levy would benefit students was included in each runner’s swag bag (no mailing costs), and the race director spoke favorably of the levy during the awards presentation. In addition to attaching itself to a great cause, the APS touched hundreds of members of its target audience at one time with only a small expense (printing costs).

3) DON’T Spam –> For some of the races, I did some additional research before figuring out who I was voting for. When I received direct mail pieces from these candidates, I kept them to look over later. When I dug them out the night before the election, I couldn’t believe how many duplicates I had received of the exact same pieces. Not only is this not at all cost effective, it doesn’t impress many people. If you’re going to really utilize one form of advertising, at least mix it up. One judge in particular stood out because her pieces were all different, including letters of recommendation from others, examples of her past success and highlighting different reasons why she was worthy of your vote (instead of cramming everything onto one piece like an encyclopedia). Go figure, I ended up voting for her.

4) DON’T Attack –> One other note about the judge I mentioned in the previous example… She only spoke about herself – how she was positively impacting the community, past decisions on cases, etc. She never attacked the other candidate even though the other candidate (or excuse me, her party) attacked her. (The other candidate claimed complete ignorance of the attack ads. Yeah right.) Like most people, I want to hear why I should vote for you (or buy your product), not why your competitor’s lacking. If you’re talking about your competitor, then I’m assuming that you have nothing positive to tell me about yourself (or your company).

5) DO Be True to Yourself –> Once you develop your brand’s voice, tell its story. Don’t embellish, misrepresent facts or flat out lie to make your brand sound better. If you feel like you have to do that, then something is missing. As I was discussing all of the blatantly false political ads with another woman in the voting line, she made a great point.

“I don’t lie,” she said. “When you lie, you have to remember what you said so that you can tell the same lie down the road. Just tell the truth; it’s so much easier.” That’s one thing we should all agree on.

So I hope everyone voted today to make your voice heard. Go ahead and take some key points from the political advertising machine to market your company or brand better while lowering costs and collaborating more effectively. If you remember only one thing, don’t use robo calls. EVER.

Happy Election Day!
Jaime

p.s. For more information on promotional products, visit http://www.promotionalproductswork.org/ or contact me.

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Advertising: Do You Watch?

Are you a fan of ads? In the age of TIVO and DVRs, you’re probably thinking that’s not even relevant anymore. But I’m talking about all types of advertisements, from magazine and online ads to billboards and yes, television. I came across an article on the ‘winners’ of Olympic advertising, so this subject came to mind.

Would you advertise here? I would.
Photo credit: I Do Reviews

As an advertising major, I probably tend to pay attention to advertising more than most. In past training sessions on the effectiveness of advertising, I would ask attendees the one day of the year when folks actually watch TV for the ads. Normally someone would interject “the Super Bowl!” which is what I was looking for. While an ardent football fan, I do look forward to the ads as well, as sometimes the game itself isn’t exactly entertaining (unless you’re a fan of the winning team, of course). I did always find it interesting that most of the attendees’ favorite ads didn’t make them think of the advertiser. An expensive way to just make someone laugh, no?

The Man. The Myth. The Legend. Don Draper.
Photo credit: FOLLOWINGTHEBUZZ

With the success of Mad Men, it seems like advertising has become a little more popular again (thanks, Don Draper). However, I’m curious as to whether people are actually paying attention to it or just watching this entertaining TV show.

So, back to my original question. Do you pay attention to advertising?


What’s your favorite ad? Or advertiser? By the way, if you’re interested in the article I mentioned at the beginning of my post, here you go.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Jaime

Technology: It’s Not Just For Trekkies Anymore

Trekkies!

The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Technology has permeated all aspects of society from the workplace to how we order pizza. (If you’re still phoning in your orders for the popular pies, get with the program.) You probably utilize technology throughout your daily routine and don’t even realize it. Why? Because it works. You don’t have to understand why it works or how it works as long as it does. You may not realize just how plugged in you are until there’s an interruption (like last weekend’s storms / power outages).

The uninterrupted access provided by technology offers us increased flexibility – in how we work and how we live. You’re no longer tied to an office to get work done; smart phones, laptops and wireless technology allow us to log in from virtually anywhere.

Because of this virtual landscape, technology items cross over from work to play effortlessly, resulting in increased usage and visibility.

When you promote your business with a branded technology item, it will be seen – again and again – lowering the cost per impression (CPI) to a miniscule amount. When recipients use – and like – the item you gave them, they recommend it to others and associate your company with that good feeling. Who should I go to when I need a service? Oh, there’s XYZ company on my USB drive.

Also driving exposure and CPI is technology’s lengthy shelf life, so to speak. Yes, it’s constantly evolving, but items don’t quickly become obsolete.

Remember when everyone thought we would be driving flying cars by now?

New features are introduced and items are redesigned, but at the end of the day, it’s still a digital photo frame. It’s still practical, stylish and occupies prime desktop real estate.

Think technology is out of reach on your budget? With the continued evolution, prices become more and more competitive.

Remember IBM’s first USB drives debuting at $50 for 8MB of storage? Your dollar will go a little further these days.

And don’t discount accessories. The technology arena has expanded to include embellishments that make your life even easier, protect your gadgets or just make them look cool.

The important thing to remember about technology is that it’s ingrained in every aspect of life for most of us. So when you delve into this popular category, you extend your reach into places your company could boldly never go before.

Cheers,
Jaime

Sports & Leisure: Scoring Points and Creating Fans

sports fans

Fun times at the Kentucky Derby!

It’s no surprise that fan is the root of fanatic. People are passionate about their sports teams, so why not make your brand an integral part? From game day giveaways to local team tie-ins, you can elicit as much passion about your company as the home team.

Becoming a part of game day is a great way to get involved with the local community. Brand popular giveaways, such as noisemakers, signs, stadium cups or lanyards, to hand out at the gate or pre-game tailgating events. Help fans become the 12th man by giving away branded rally towels or shirts to create a ‘black-out’ effect – a sea of black across the stands (or use any team color). Shoot t-shirts with your company’s message into the stands during stops in the action to keep the passion and energy high.

Not going to the game? Bring the excitement into the office. Make your employees the MVPs of a celebration honoring the local sports team or a season kickoff, complete with branded giveaways and merchandise. Pair this special day with a cook-off or potluck to foster team spirit and company pride within your organization. Reward winners or all participants with prizes to acknowledge their efforts. Giving branded merchandise to employees that they’ll use outside of work is an unobtrusive way to spread your message and potentially generate new business.

Don’t limit creating fans of your company to the field or the office. Branching out into leisure time activities is an easy way to build rapport with potential customers, who are everywhere – shopping at stores, strolling parks, attending community festivals, etc. Sponsor teams or leagues, donate branded giveaways for fairs or partner with fellow local companies to create programs that will benefit the community and generate goodwill about your company at the same time. For example, a casual healthy eating restaurant could partner with a fitness center to promote healthy living. Both companies promote the program (and each other) by offering discounted products and services (15% off a fitness center registration with a receipt from the restaurant), helpful information (healthy living tips) and rewards to encourage participation (a free ‘healthy eating set’ after working out at the fitness center 10 times). Not only does partnering with other companies help promote your organization, it can also help with advertising costs. Split the cost of co-branded merchandise, so it’s a winning situation for both companies and the community.

Don’t forget the face paint…

Jaime