Monday, June 6

Inconsistent Marketing

If there's one thing that makes me crazy, it's marketing that is inconsistent from element to element.  In fact, consistency is one of the key tenants to my book "The Experience Effect."  A brand can't deliver a great experience if it's not consistent at each interaction.

Which is why I personally had a very frustrating morning the other day.

As I  was walking to work, and I walked by the same Pret A Manger that I pass every day (if you are not familiar with the brand it's a small little breakfast/lunch shop).  I rarely go in, don't know why, but it's just not in my consideration set.

Well this particular morning I noticed a billboard on the street in front of the restaurant advertising their oatmeal.  Steel cut oatmeal.  And on top of the bowl of oatmeal was a huge raspberry and a huge blueberry.  Well I love my oatmeal and I love raspberries and blueberries -- so I just had to stop in.

The place was empty, so I walked right up to the counter and ordered oatmeal with raspberries and blueberries.  The woman looked at me like I was crazy.

"We don't have that," she said to me in total confidence.

"Well you have a big sign outside that says that you do, " I replied in total confidence.

"No we don't," she replied, "All we have is brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins."

The conversation continued to the point where I quickly figured out that I was only going to get oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins -- and in fact I HAD to have all three of those ingredients, even if I didn't want them all.

I gave in and bought it anyway -- and of course it all tasted terrible because at this point the experience had been so awful.  I was so bummed.  That billboard got me so craving my oatmeal that it set me up for even greater disappointment.

Just to make sure I wasn't crazy, on the way out I double checked and sure enough, there was the sign with oatmeal and a raspberry and a blueberry on top.  There is nothing I hate more than inconsistent marketing -- it makes the brand nothing short of disappointing.

What's your experience?  Jim.


  1. I agree with your comments, Jim and it is a shame. PRET is one of my favorites, as they use all local and usually organic ingredients, they change the menu items up to reflect seasonal additions, and usually, the customer service is very good. BUT, you are correct, they don't market themselves properly at all! For example, they have free WiFi, but it takes a lot of "exploring" (ie - I had to ask) to discover that! There is one right across the street from a Starbucks @ Union Square. It is large, clean, great coffee, fresh food (they move the sandwiches every 2 hours), and while they are busy - the Starbucks next door does triple the business. Why? Not because of quality or service - but truly because of their marketing (or lack there of).

    Oh - and not to mention, they have a great arrangement with City Harvest - so they have a huge opportunity to capitalize on "Social Marketing" as well! Tis a shame, as they are a nice alternative to the Starbucks and other "fast food" options.

    I think you need a new client! :)

  2. Your point is well take, but Pret especially seems like an offender. I've just taken them off my consideration set, in fact.

  3. That's why we chose this crazy business ... marketing can make or break a brand! And it's the consistent experience that drives engagement! JIM

  4. Why is Pret promoting/introducing oatmeal in June? That's my first thought.

    Jamba Juice introduced oatmeal after they expanded to NY and the winter rolled around. Jamba never had anything other than smoothies on the menu when the business was exclusive to Southern California. Timing and product fit should be part of the plan as well.

  5. Good point! Oatmeal is a hearty fall-winter kind of food, isn't it? Although I do eat it year round. But you are absolutely right ... JIM