Above The Call Marketing – Where’s The Surprise In Your Offering?

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I wonder how many marketing teams spend the bulk of their time just trying to meet a number and/or are hell bent on cutting costs (e.g. to make up for slowing ‘organic’ sales)?

Going Above The Call In A Chain?

above the call Pret A Manger

When you go into a fast-service (aka fast food) lunch shop, such as Pret A Manger (PAM), you would have thought they would have lunch “deals.” At least, that was what I expected. Wrong. Everything is à la carte. Thus, on a recent visit to a Pret A Manger in Soho, London, I ordered what I wanted.* The service was fast and friendly. The server asked if that was all I wanted? I replied, yes. Then he asked: would you like a cup of coffee, on the house?

Creating Delight

I was totally taken aback. What an effect. When I did a little research for this post, I discovered that PAM has a “random acts of kindness” loyalty scheme. Without having to dig out from my wallet a tattered loyalty card to get a stamp, or such like, they graciously added in a latte. As opposed to the idea of getting a small discount for ordering a preset “deal,” they have generalized the idea of surprising the customer with a free offer. Of the 1.5 million cups of coffee they distribute every week, 1 million of these are free. That’s a well-scaled program. And it must be working for them, since their like-for-like sales were up 7.5% in 2015. Of course, their success really comes from a great product offering, good retail locations and much more. But, the random-act-of-kindness concept is a supreme example of what I call “Above The Call Marketing.” It was not needed, but it’s a bonus that creates an extra step in your gait.

How many marketing teams are prepared to instill a random act of kindness as part of their brand gestalt? I have to believe it’s a motivating factor for the chap serving me, too: to see my surprised look!

Your thoughts?


*It was an avocado wrap, which it turns out, is extremely trendy. In fact, PAM sold a total of 5 million avocados in 2015.

3 Comments, RSS

  1. Uri

    Hi Minter,

    Thank you for this article. I heard about PAM’s free coffee scheme but I personally do not feel the numbers are correct. Neither myself not anyone I know ever received even one these free” lattes. While this is not hard fact, but I’m not sure if this feeling I have that I’m not special enough is doing the trick. As an individual I now feel this is just a publicity stunt. Again I might be wrong on the stats but as an individual I am not happy with this scheme at all.

    Maybe one day I will be proven wrong. In any case keep reporting on these initiatives as they do come from a great place and it’s refreshing to learn about them.

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