Tag Archives: operations

living by the sword

A little over two years ago, Morton’s steakhouse pulled off a promotional stunt that generated tons of publicity by meeting a rabid Morton’s fan (who is also a social media celebrity) at the airport with a steak dinner after he tweeted he was hungry. It was talked about on social media for weeks and the story got picked up by national traditional media outlets.

This past weekend, the Morton’s in Nashville threw a cancer patient out of the restaurant for wearing a cap to cover his hair loss from chemotherapy. They are getting destroyed across all social media platforms and are in major crisis management control mode.

If you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword.

I’ve said several times that the underlying key to social media success is simple. Invest less in the social media message and invest more in your people who are on the ground providing customer service. Customers will post both the good and the bad experiences they have. (TIP: You want the good to outnumber the bad.)

the part of marketing that marketing people forget

Starbucks hopped on the Foursquare marketing train early and came out with a great promotion. But Starbucks’ bold move flopped.

Why did they fail? The answer is simple. They forgot (or failed) to communicate their marketing plan with a very important group in the marketing experience — their employees. (It’s the same reason I get stiffed on free syrups when I use my Starbucks card.)

You can spend gobs of money, time, and attention on marketing to get people in the door — but the promises you’ve made with your marketing have to happen when those people come through the door.

Most of your brand is NOT built through advertising, PR, or any marketing message. The brand is mostly built through mundane daily customer experiences. It’s not sexy, but it’s true.

And the customer experience is almost totally controlled by the operational side of the business. If the marketers need/want to build a brand, they need to share their vision and brand strategy with the parts of the company who actually interact with customers.

This is true all the way from the master overall marketing strategy down to individual marketing initiatives. It’s important on all levels, but it becomes even more important when you’re using new and emerging marketing platforms like Foursquare or other forms of digital media. Innovators and Early Adopters are important groups. You want to make sure that employees are delivering superior customer experiences to people who will heavily influence WOM.

For example — The other day, a local sandwich shop tweeted that I could get 10% off if I mentioned Twitter when I ordered. I went there for lunch and mentioned it to the cashier who didn’t even know what Twitter was.

It comes down to the fact if you’re delivering messages to potential markets, you need to share the content of those messages with ALL the people in your organization. They are the ones who will make it work.


I had a horrible lunch today.

It was the type of small bakery/sandwich shop that we like to go to. There’s always one or two in every town….located in a reclaimed-refurbished building in the older part of town….mismatched furniture…lots of funky local art…interesting people sitting around….freaky spaced-out employees…etc

But today…we stood behind three other people waiting to place orders while the employees stared at all of us from the kitchen.

Finally, I ordered the Cuban sandwich and soup. (It was on the menu) “We stopped serving the Cuban a couple months ago.”….I was told.

I decided not to get a beverage because I would be charged for a refill of iced tea…quite possibly the cheapest beverage to produce and make a profit off of. The cooler of other drinks was nearly empty.

When we went into the dining area, I started to get the highchair for the boy. I left it because it was broken and was “sticky”. He sat on the tabletop.

The wife’s kettle chips and cookie were left in an undisclosed location and had to be searched for by the girl who brought the food to the table.

Her asiago chicken sandwich was missing the chipolte mayo…and oddly, the asiago cheese.

Of my soup and sandwich…the soup was cold. The roast pork sandwich on focaccia (I thought it would be a decent substitution) came out as a “Julia” which was hummus, artichoke hearts, sprouts, etc. I ate it while the pork came out.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Meanwhile, Bowling Green is getting a Panera Bread over in the corporate-mall-generic-no-personality-mall-big-box part of town.

The people won’t be as interesting. There will be no community connection. The employees may be slackers….but they’ll be fired if they slack too much.

But, they’ll (probably) get my order right. The right ingredients will be on my sandwich. I’ll actually have the right sandwich. They’ll give me a “bonus” of some bread (or at least crackers) when I order soup. And it will be hot. I’ll drink as much iced tea as I want for one price. The highchairs will be clean. It will be a “safe” place to eat. And it will get many more customers than the local downtown establishment.

The marketing question is this….why can’t we have both? Why can’t the community place get the SOP right? And why can’t the chain be interesting?

Operations IS marketing…..and you have to build marketing INTO your operations.