Tuesday, October 21, 2008

'The Promotional Pundit:' Old September 25, 2008 Online Coupon Post Removed From the Fresh & Easy Company Marketing Blog; See My Past Columns

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market director of marketing Simon Uwins or one of the grocery chain's marketing staffers has removed the September 25, 2008 post about the grocer's first online coupon from the company marketing Blog as I suggested in my recent columns should be done.

Read my past columns on the topic at the links below to learn what I wrote about the issue:

>October 10, 2008: 'The Promotional Pundit': Keeping the Marketing and Promotional Eye On the Ball; Fixing A Promotional Fiasco Fresh & Easy Isn't Even Aware Of

>October12, 2008: 'The Promotional Pundit:' More On the Online Coupon Fiasco: Tesco Fresh & Easy's Marketing Department to Launch A New Online Coupon Early Next Week

>October 13, 2008: 'The Promotional Pundit': Tesco Fresh & Easy Launches New $6-off Online Coupon Today; Post on Corp. Marketing Blog Remains -- Adding Insult to Injury

The old, September 25 post remained on the Fresh & Easy corporate marketing Blog until at least late last week.

The Promotional Pundit was alerted by a regular reader of the column yesterday that it had been removed.

It's good to see somebody at Fresh & Easy agreed with the Promotional Pundit and a number of Fresh & Easy Buzz readers who emailed me about the issue. Even more so, it's good the retailer is willing to self-correct.

Their were a number of readers of the Fresh & Easy marketing Blog who made comments on the Blog's September 25 post about being disappointed about not being able to get their online coupon when they clicked the link on the post, as you can read about and view in my previous columns linked above. When the readers/consumers clicked the link to go to the page where the coupon was supposed to be located, they were greeted with a message telling them the coupon had expired -- but suggesting they should go to their nearest Fresh & Easy market for great in-store low prices. Of course, since they were invited to obtain a coupon so they could enjoy "lower" prices, that wasn't a very pleasing solution to them.

As I wrote about in this October 13 column, "'The Promotional Pundit': Tesco Fresh & Easy Launches New $6-off Online Coupon Today; Post on Corp. Marketing Blog Remains -- Adding Insult to Injury," Fresh & Easy issued a new online coupon on October 13. That online coupon is being promoted on the homepage of the freshandeasy.com Web site. It isn't being promoted at all at present on Mr. Uwins' Fresh & Easy company marketing Blog. No new post regarding the new coupon replaced the September 25 post which I suggested needed to be removed -- and now has been removed from the Fresh & Easy company marketing Blog.

Even though the seven readers of the Fresh & Easy marketing Blog won't get an answer from Mr. Uwins or anybody else at Fresh & Easy to their comments about not being able to obtain their online coupon, at least by removing the post no further damage will be done from a marketing, branding and customer relations standpoint to Fresh & Easy.

That's the best thing a marketer can do in such a situation, which is why the Promotional Pundit suggested it needed to be done.

The comments from the seven consumers should have each been answered on the September 25 Blog post first though, telling each one about the new $6-off purchases of $30 or more online coupon, and providing the link to it on the homepage of the freshandeasy.com Web site. That would have been good customer service.

If a retailer uses a Blog as a marketing tool, it automatically becomes an interactive customer service tool as well. As a result, it is incumbent on the retailer to them answer readers comments -- positive or negative -- just like that retailer expects store-level employees to respond to questions from customers in-store. The Blog is in many ways merely an electronic extension of a physical storefront after all.

However, since the September 25 post is now gone (a positive event), it's a moot point in terms of responding to the comments from the readers/consumers. At least by removing the old post Fresh & Easy's marketing department is correcting a mistake, which I congratulate them for doing.

The first rule of marketing is: "But first, do no harm." An appendix to that rule is: "If you cause harm, immediately prevent further harm."

Fresh & Easy was slow on the draw in preventing further reputational harm by talking so long to delete the September 25 post. But at least they have now done so. That's a positive thing in terms of preventing additional marketing, branding and customer relations harm to the company.

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