Marie Callender’s is pretty much the only restaurant my Alzheimer’s-afflicted mom can recall, so that is typically where we land whenever I pick her up for lunch. At the end of our last visit, our courteous, likable server handed us some bounce-back coupons. Here’s one:
Trouble is, the more complications you pile on, the more people will not bother participating. This promotion piles on not a few.
Complication 1: You must return to Marie Callender’s to do the scratch-off. This kills what makes scratch-offs fun, namely, instant curiosity gratification.
Complication 2: You don’t know if the prize is good enough to bring you back. For all you know, it’ll turn out to be something you don’t want. (“Wow! I get a free extra lemon slice if I purchase an iced tea at full price.”) This is a case in which not knowing is not motivating. Odds are, then, that this promotion will bring back only people who would have come back anyhow. Such promotions do not build but cannibalize business.
Complication 3: Even if you remember to bring your coupon with you on your next visit to Marie Callender’s, you need a witness to be present when you do the scratching-off thing. Your server isn’t good enough. You must summon a manager to your table. That’s a lot of bother, which means many people simply won’t bother. And, for that matter ...
Complication 4: ... requiring the presence of a witness screams at your customer, “We don’t trust you.” And, for that matter ...
Complication 5: ... requiring the presence of no less than a manager screams, “We don’t trust your server, either.” You know, the person you’re about to entrust with your credit card.
If the Marie Callender’s objective is to bring customers back, this promotion could have been stronger had they made participation easier. Say, do the scratch-off in front of your server while you’re still there, and receive a coupon good for your prize on your next visit. If the objective is to appear to be generous but in reality ensure maximum breakage, it only attains the latter.
Personal Postscript 1: As we left the restaurant, Mom paused at the door to gaze at the photo on the wall of Marie Callender. “She’s very nice,” Mom said, “she lives on my floor.”
Personal Postscript 2: “Keep one of those coupons intact for me,” I told my daughter, who joined us for lunch, “I’m going to blog on this.” She replied, “Nerd.”