Ruby Tuesday Marketing Mistake: Birthday Program

Today I experienced a Ruby Tuesday Marketing mistake. You might consider it an operations mistake or just a miscommunication, but you’d be wrong. While birthday promotions involve the restaurant staff and the operations department, they are a type of “rewards program” designed by the marketing folks.

Today’s my birthday so I took a couple of my friends to Ruby Tuesday so I could get one of those fabulous handcrafted burgers. (You get a handcrafted burger on your birthday for free!) I checked my e-mail for a coupon from their SoConnected email club, but didn’t get anything. So I took my driver’s license that showed my birth date.

Unfortunately our waitress had never heard of the free burger on your birthday promotion, laughed about it and said she’d check with the manager. The manager came over and reluctantly gave me the burger for my birthday. (After asking for a coupon and checking my ID, of course.) But none of this is the problem, really. The manager may have people trying to get free stuff all the time and may have to be a little cautious – no issue.

The problem came when the manager left our table without talking up the program to my friends at the table. Even if I was supposed to have a coupon, it was my birthday and I was excited to be there. And even if I hadn’t been a member of the SoConnected program, I could have easily signed up. Furthermore, no employee was willing to share in that excitement thus doing their part to promote the value of the SoConnected program. We left with a bad taste in our mouth, my friends still aren’t members of their birthday “club” and no one else in the restaurant asked if they could be part of the program either.

The problem is the employees aren’t in sync with the goals of the marketing department, the effect of word-of-mouth marketing, the impact of social media or the lifetime value of customers in the SoConnected program. They also don’t understand the viral nature of singing happy birthday or anything else that brings attention to the program – in action.

Just so you know, the Ruby Tuesday program involves acquiring the customer’s email address, which gives customers access to specials, discounts and other value propositions.

In theory this is a the kind of program every business should consider. The problem that many business make – and the reason behind the Ruby Tuesday marketing mistake – is that the program and its goals must be communicated to everyone in the organization. It is clear to me that there exists a huge rift behind the goals of the marketing department and the role of the restaurant group in attaining those goals.