How Teriyaki Madness Turned a Major Marketing Oops into a Win

Teriyaki Madness (TMAD) had the “bowls” to admit they messed up and turned the mistake into a unique marketing opportunity.

In late February, a marketing team member was training a coworker on how to send five winners of a “Free Bowls for a Year” drawing their notifications at once instead of one at a time. Instead of sending it to just one, it was accidentally sent to a different segment of Mad Rewards members that included 8,300 people!

The brand turned this honest mistake into a new marketing campaign: the 8,300 Club. Those who received the incorrect email received a free bowl and were also welcomed into the super-exclusive, super-secret club. In addition to receiving double rewards points for a year to earn free food faster, the 8,300 Club will receive special perks like exclusive contests, invitations to new product tastings, and other special surprises throughout the year.

“We sent the email to correct the situation within about 20 minutes of the first winner email,” TMAD CMO Jodi Boyce told Modern Restaurant Managment (MRM) magazine. “We also gave all 8,300 members one free bowl. We got about 250 emails – which isn’t too bad from 8,300 – and we personally answered all of them. For the most part, once we explained what happened they were very gracious.

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’ve got the bowls to admit we messed up, and now we’re making it up to you…Welcome to the 8300 Club!’ They were automatically enrolled and now they will get special deals, contests, offers or other perks not available to others. So far, it’s been well-received! Many people were impressed we owned the mistake and are showing customers how much we really do appreciate them.”

Boyce explained TMAD’s loyalty program has a lot of data and that loyalty guests spend 16-19 percent more than non-loyalty guests.

“In Q1, we made it a priority for our shops to get as many customers to download our app as possible. And we added extra incentive to download the app for customers – each week, we picked one random winner (from the segment of customers who placed an order in the app that week) to win free bowls for a year. In addition to the promotion, internally, we have tasked our corporate team to find efficiencies in their various roles and tasks because we’re growing like crazy and plan to be at 200 open shops by the end of 2023.”

The Seattle-style teriyaki shop recently announced a massive franchise deal — the largest in the brand’s history — for the development of 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 “mistake” has had a remarkable return on investment.

“Of the 8,300 people in the 8,300 Club, since we launched it around March 24, 4,928 of those 8,300 guests have spent $253,845 to date,” said Boyce. “We spent about $25k for the free bowl food cost that was given away/redeemed, so that’s a 915-percent ROI! The sales the 8300 Club represented in the past 40-ish days is around 15 percent of our loyalty sales. Also, in the same time period, our ‘regular’ Mad Rewards members have visited 1.72 times on average whereas our 8300 Club members have visited 2.69 times in the same time period.”

What lessons has the brand learned?

“We have a very forgiving culture,” Boyce pointed out. “We all wear a lot of hats, move fast, and value people who take initiative. We will slow down and verify before we send communications out publicly, but overall, this mistake was short-lived and turned into a positive for the customers and our brand.”

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