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DeWinter Marketing RANT: Marketing Promotion Case Study Shows Movie Theater Turning Customers Away Because Of A Promotion

DeWinter Marketing RANT: Marketing Promotion Case Study Shows Movie Theater Turning Customers Away Because of a Promotion

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In this Marketing RANT, I’m covering a Marketing Promotion Case Study that highlights how a movie theater chain offered a promotion that resulted in their staff turning customers AWAY. Read on and learn about the marketing promotion mistakes that were made, and how to avoid them in your own marketing promotions.

Marketing Promotion Case Study: Harkins Theatres Clerk Turns Away Customers Because of a Promotion

In this marketing promotion case study, a friend and I went to Harkins Theaters in metro Denver Colorado, and requested 2 tickets to a movie we wanted to see.

Once we requested the tickets, the clerk said:

“I can’t sell you tickets to this movie unless you give me your cell phone number and email for our rewards program. It will only take 30 seconds.”

We were flabbergasted, and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” The clerk insisted that we had to give him our personal information or he could NOT sell us tickets to that movie. We refused to give our personal information, and left the theater without seeing the movie.

Later that evening, I filed a complaint via the Harkins Theatres website. I hit the “submit” key several times & nothing happened. Since the website form didn’t appear to be working, I called the corporate office and left 2 separate messages, one with the customer service department and one with corporate management.

This happened on a Saturday night. The following Monday I called the theater in Denver and spoke with the manager. He was aware of what had happened and had received the complaint via the website Saturday night (although it was not clear on my end that the complaint had gone through). First, he apologized. Then, he explained what had happened.

Harkins Theatres was doing a marketing promotion in conjunction with that movie. The promotional offer was: “Sign up for our rewards program and you can see this particular movie for $5. If you don’t sign up for the rewards program, then the movie is the regular price.”

The manager said the ticket clerk did not know how to ring up the movie for those who declined to join the awards program. However, the ticket clerk never mentioned that there was a promotion.

The manager graciously offered us two free movie passes to come see the movie. We declined because the theater is such a long drive.

Harkins Theatres Marketing Promotion Case Study Learning Points

Any time a glitch of this magnitude is uncovered, it’s an opportunity to learn and to modify how promotions are deployed. Here are the key learning points from this Marketing Promotion Case Study:

Learning Point 1: Communicate the details of the marketing promotion to employees. If the Harkins Theatres employee who turned us away had been educated on the promotion & how to ring it up on the cash register, none of this would have happened.

Learning Point 2: Create promotion talking points for employees. Not only did the clerks need to know how to handle promotion payments, all ticket sales employees should have known how to talk about this promotion and be encouraged to mention it, and explain it.

Learning Point 3: Test your website’s form-based email. A) For starters, test it and make sure it’s working. B) Make sure a confirmation message appears to customers that says some version of: “We got your message. We’ll be in touch as soon as possible.”

Learning Point 4: Be proactive in responding to customer complaints. When we spoke, the Harkins Theatres manager was cordial, apologetic & offered free movie tickets. The only thing he did wrong was not get on the phone first thing Monday morning. I had to call him.

The key point of this Marketing Promotion Case Study: If you’re going to spend time & money on a marketing promotion for your business or non-profit, set yourself up to win, not lose, customers.

Need help structuring or deploying a marketing promotion? Contact DeWinter Marketing & PR for help!

Courtney DeWinter

Courtney DeWinter is the president & founder of Denver-based DeWinter Marketing & PR in Denver, Colorado. She is a marketing & PR consultant with 25+ years of experience in branding, marketing, public relations, websites & journalism.

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