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Monday, Oct. 20, 2008 at 10:45 am

How To Leverage Economic Woes and Promote Business

By Brendan Regan
October 20th, 2008

squeeze lemon into lemonadeI was firsthand witness to a clever promotion recently, so I’ll share in the hopes it inspires you to turn the Economy’s lemons into lemonade.

Seattle’s Chow Foods runs six restaurants, and recently sent an email blast with an inventive promotion.  The one-day promotion adjusted their menu item pricing based on the close of the DOW and the NASDAQ – the tumultuous DOW set the food menu pricing, and the NASDAQ set the price of house wine, draft beers, and well drinks.

The DOW closed at 8,979, which brought all menu items to a price of $8.79, and the NASDAQ closed at 1,717, which brought drink prices down to $1.71!  I walked by one of their restaurants last night at dinner time, and the line was out the door and down the block.

Here are the lessons I see in their promotion:

  1. Be innovative – basing prices on market closes, which have been painful news lately, actually worked to the customer’s benefit.  I had the promotion forwarded to me, so they also came up with something Viral-worthy.
  2. Put some skin in the game – the business took some risk here, and customers sensed that and respond favorably.
  3. Tap in to something already on customers’ minds – I guess that’s the point of this whole story.
  4. Write great copy – their copywriter obviously had some fun with this (samples below).

What other clever ways can you leverage the economy (or the political races) to promote your business or your site?  Need some support as you innovate?

Tasty copy excerpts:

Dow’d but not Out at CHOW on Oct. 16

CHOW Foods is executing a short term Main Street bailout plan far more delicious than the one the goofs in congress passed last week.

The lower the Dow closes on Thursday, the less your entrée costs–no food on the menu will be priced more than the Dow. If it closes at 8300 (gulp!) then you won’t pay any more than $8.30 for any item on our food menus.

If Chowin’ on the DOW isn’t enough to whet your appetite, keep in mind that our house red & white wine, draft beers and well drinks will be priced at the NASDAQ close for the day.  If it dips to 1250, then our depression era pricing on these libations will be just a buck twenty five!

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Comments (8)

  1. What a clever idea. Humor helps ease pain, and this e-mail campaign did exactly that. Even when the promotion is over, I’m sure it will help the restaurant stay top-of-mind.

  2. That is genius! Great work CHOW.

  3. Love the Dow food menu pricing. Ingenious idea for bringing customers in despite economic down turn. I shared this idea with a friend in advertising who has several restaurant clients who want to (foolishly) cut back on marketing & advertising right now. Instead they should do like Chow and work to keep customers involved and wanting to eat out. Great post.

  4. Customer-centricity will be the building block of successful enterprises of tomorrow.
    It will be one of the key levers that will drive their business growth and allow them to outperform competition.

    Companies are increasingly realising that customers and prospects are getting more identifiable than ever before. Customers no longer want to be talked to or be exposed to offers they cannot relate to. Customers today, want enterprises to know more about them and offer them what they need in real-time.

  5. Check this:

    Analytics often throws up interesting insights into customer behavior. Often these insights can be powerfully leveraged into new product innovation. Especially in the payment card category there exists a plethora of data that the marketer can analyze. Here is an interesting post on how an innovative card product allows small businesses to obtain web based Expense analytics! How often do banks look at combining the power of their pre paid, debit & credit card offerings to give the consumer a bang for the buck! Jim Breune has an interesting view on this innovation!

    http://www.netbanker.com/2008/09/expensify_launches_decoupled_credit_debit_card_using_prepaid_model.html

  6. I think being innovative is the key to this article! It seems everyone wants to compete on price, and that’s just going to put more and more companies out of business. Get out of bed tomorrow morning and think of something new for your business that will enthrall your customer and prompt them to buy instead! An economical flying car would be my suggestion. ;) Or maybe a full electric vehicle that can travel 600+ miles all for under $20k.

  7. Well this really is great promotion and your comment that their campaign focused on things that are on others minds is really interesting and these marketing people must be getting great jobs after this effort – they did use a marketing firm I guess. The fact that you were forwarded the email as you say means it caught a lot of attention and while it doesn’t necessarily help me not being anywhere near a Chow Foods I can see the benefits. Be interesting to see figures on the return customer rates at normal prices? Did they ruin it by charging $100 to use the bathroom?

  8. [...] how they consume content online – have you revised the way your email marketing is written? Be innovative and relevant. Leverage the voice of your customer as well. Are you leveraging social media as [...]

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