Branding and Management #Fail: What Does Ruth’s Chris Steak House Have to Do With Moe’s Southwest Grill?
There's an old marketing adage that goes like this: How many drops of pee does it take to ruin the punch? The answer naturally is just one.
I recently visited Ruth's Chris Steak House in my hometown for a family dinner. The service was excellent, the food was just OK … but that's not the story!
We had some food left over and asked for a to-go box. The takeaway box came and it blew us away. Take a look at the picture below — it was from Moe's Southwest Grill.
Right, Moe's! Is it kidding? Why would a high-end steak house do that? Did it not understand the implications? Too cheap to care? And does that mean it took shortcuts with my food? I certainly paid for top quality (thinking back, my filet wasn't that good, maybe there was common ownership and procurement).
I commented to the waiter and all he could say was, "Yes, it bothers me too, but it was not my decision"
I don't think I really need to discuss how a high-end steak house shouldn't cheapen its brand with a fast casual takeaway box. Naturally my audience of marketers gets that. However, let's look under the hood a bit and turn this into some different takeaways that fit with online retailers so you don't ruin the proverbial punch.
1. Branding fail can occur at any point within the customer experience. Consumers are finicky; it only takes one element out of place to ruin the experience.
2. In the age of smartphones and social media, your "fail" will likely find its way onto the internet, posted to Facebook, blogged, Instagramed, tweeted or all of the above. And of course nothing goes viral faster on YouTube like cute kitties and brand fail.
3. I once read a sales book by Joe Girard, a former car salesman. Joe had a rule of 250. Screw up a customer's experience and 250 people will eventually find out about it via word-of-mouth. That book came out long before the internet. In our social media age, the rule of 250 is more like the rule of 250,000. I've said it before, and it demands repeating: If your product, image and customer service — i.e., your total brand experience — don't match up to your brand promise, you risk getting skewered via social media.
4. Ruth's Chris and Moe's quite possibly share common ownership. Even if that's the case, to let someone look under the kimono like that seriously cheapens the brand's image.
5. When was the last time you looked at ALL of your customer and prospect touchpoints to ensure they meet your brand's promise and positioning. If you haven't done a complete look under the hood within the last few months, it's time for a full evaluation.
Disagree with me? Agree with me? Post your comments and your own brand fail experiences below.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.