Teriyaki Madness (TMAD) had the “bowls” to admit they messed up and turned the mistake into a once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity.
In late February, a member of the marketing team was training a co-worker on how to send five “Free Bowls for a Year” winners to draw their notifications at once instead of one at a time. Instead of sending it to just one, it was accidentally sent to another segment of Mad Rewards members which included 8,300 people!
The brand turned this honest mistake into a new marketing campaign: the 8,300 Club. Those who received the wrong email received a free bowl and were also welcomed into the super-exclusive, super-secret club. In addition to receiving double reward points for a year to earn free food faster, Club 8,300 will receive special benefits like exclusive contests, invitations to new product tastings and other special surprises while throughout the year.
“We sent the email to correct the situation within approximately 20 minutes of the winner’s first email,” Jodi Boyce, CMO of TMAD, told Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine. “We also gave away a free bowl to all 8,300 members. We got around 250 emails – not too bad for 8,300 – and we personally responded to each of them. For the most part, a time we explained what had happened, they were very kind.
TMAD executives knew they wanted to turn this into some sort of positive and it took about three weeks to launch the 8,300 Club, Boyce explained.
“We sent another email to those 8,300 people and said, ‘We have the balls to admit we screwed up, and now we’re catching up… Welcome to Club 8300!’ They have been automatically enrolled and they will now receive special offers, contests, offers or other benefits not available to others. So far it has been well received! A lot of people have been impressed that we’ve caught on to the error and are showing customers how much we truly appreciate them.”
Boyce explained that TMAD’s loyalty program is data-heavy and that loyal customers spend 16-19% more than non-loyal customers.
“In Q1, we made our stores a priority to get as many customers as possible to download our app. And we added an extra incentive to download the app for customers – each week we picked a random winner. (in the customer segment that placed an in-app order that week) to earn free bowls for a year. In addition to the promotion, internally we tasked our corporate team with finding efficiencies in their different roles and tasks as we grow like crazy and plan to be at 200 stores open by the end of 2023.”
The Seattle-style teriyaki shop recently announced a massive franchise deal — the biggest in the brand’s history — to develop 35 units across the country. So far in 2022, Teriyaki Madness has sold 72 franchise units and plans to open 30 more locations by the end of the year.
And “the error” had a remarkable return on investment.
“Of the 8,300 people at Club 8,300, since we launched around March 24, 4,928 of those 8,300 guests have spent $253,845 to date,” Boyce said. “We spent about $25,000 on the cost of free food that was donated/redeemed, so that’s a 915% return on investment! The sales that the 8300 Club has accounted for over the last 40 days is about 15% of our loyalty sales. , during the same period, our “regular” Mad Rewards members visited 1.72 times on average, while our 8300 Club members visited 2.69 times during the same period.”
What lessons has the brand learned?
“We have a very forgiving culture,” Boyce pointed out. “We all wear a lot of hats, act quickly and appreciate people who take the initiative. We’ll slow down and double-check before sending public communications, but overall this mistake was short-lived and turned into positive for customers and our brand.”