According to what I can find in their public reporting,
Panera Bread spent somewhere north of $33 million on marketing last year. Their financial results are impressive and they get good ROI on that investment. I’m willing to bet, however, that the best marketing return they’re going to get this year is on a cup of clam chowder and a box of cookies. You might have heard about this story, but if you haven’t, this AdWeek article sums it up nicely. A dying grandmother wants some Panera Clam Chowder on a day when the local store doesn’t make it. A grandson calls to ask them to help. A smart, responsive, caring manager immediately says yes and when the kid shows up to get it, gives him a box of cookies for grandma to go along with the soup.
It being the age of social, the grandson shares the story on his Facebook page. Half a million “likes” and 22,000 comments later, that cup of clam chowder bought Panera more goodwill and positive marketing than most of the cash it spent. Let’s think about what went right and why.
- Someone answered the phone. Sounds like a small thing but how many companies do these days?
- Someone made a decision. Not “I’m not authorized to do that” or “I need to ask corporate”. Someone decided to do the right thing and was empowered to make the decision stick.
- Someone went beyond what they were asked – cookies too!
- A brand behaved like a person! The kid didn’t call Sue, the manager. He called Panera which Sue represented. The wholly human way in which she responded was perfect.
- Panera didn’t tell the story – the kid did. Panera didn’t manufacture anything (except the chowder and cookies). This resonates because it’s real.
The best marketing these days tends to be just like this - treating your customers well and letting them tell the story for you. Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other review sites are all about this, and their comments often get ported to other social sites (the usual suspects). More time on service training and less on trying to create viral media might just get you to the same destination.
Did you see the story? What do you think?
Filed under: Helpful Hints, Reality checks | Tagged: Corporate social responsibility, Customer Management, Customer service, marketing, Marketing and Advertising, Panera, Panera Bread, Social marketing | 1 Comment »