As part of the advertising promotion for their new “grilled chicken meals”, Kentucky Fried Chicken offered a coupon on the internet for a “Free 2-piece meal.” This offer came out last week and was set up to expire on May 19th. The company ended the promotion on Thursday, May 7th, 2 days after the offer was made.
Why? Because they didn’t plan for the inevitable. The internet is a wild place with FREE offers flying through it via emails and posts on blogs. As a result, companies were sending the link to all their employees. Friends were sharing with other friends and even people they didn’t know. Coupons were printed out, photocopied, and taken in to KFC by the handfuls.
KFC isn’t going to totally back down on the promises made to the legitimate customers who followed the instructions, printed off the maximum of 4 coupons, and didn’t reproduce them and hand them out willy-nilly. But, they are making it less likely for even those legitimate customers to be serviced. You have to take your coupon in to KFC, receive a form to fill out, put a 42 cent stamp on an envelope, and mail it in. KFC will then mail the customer a new coupon.
This is a promotion, that as a result of not being properly planned and thought out, will lose more customers for KFC than it will gain. When you plan a promotion or gimmick to attract new customers, sit down and think through all the possibilities of ways that unscrupulous customers could take advantage of you and then head those possibilities off before rather than after.
Promotions, such as this one by KFC, are wonderful ways to introduce new products or to remind former customers that you’re still around. But be careful. Think through the whole promotion very carefully. Or, like KFC, it could backfire on you.