By Mark Davenport
Apr 13, 2013

When a Multi-Channel Marketing Opportunity Falls Flat

If you traveled through DC's Metro Center recently, you probably noticed it's been plastered with posters from the restaurant chain, TGIFridays. They contain cryptic messages like: "No more cheese at Friday’s“ and “” (the latter paired with a huge question mark). Since apparently they bought every ad space in the enormous station, this must have been a huge campaign for them.

I don't recall ever eating at a TGIFriday's, but I was intrigued nonetheless – probably as were many of my fellow commuters. What does it mean? Are they literally removing cheese from their kitchens?

While waiting for the train, I decided to visit the site on my iPhone. And what came up on the screen were tiny little words and pictures of restaurant interiors. Some type of Javascript was interfering with normal page behavior, so I couldn't even explore by zooming. Navigation controls hardly worked.

Swing and a miss, Friday's.

When building any online experience, one of the most important considerations is understanding who is coming to the site and why, and these days – from where. On average, 10% of users are viewing most websites via mobile, so businesses must consider the experience they will have when viewing their sites on hand-helds. This is imperative if you are running a major offline marketing campaign geared to commuters, enticing them to explore your website immediately. In this case 100% of users will be using their mobile devices. But somehow, TGIFriday's decided to build a desktop-only version of a site aimed specifically at commuters.

Perhaps they thought we would be so excited that we would write down the URL and go visit it later at our offices. But with busy lives and short attention spans, that seems unlikely to happen. Obviously, Friday's should have leveraged the fleeting intrigue they could generate in their five-minute window with a commuter – and built a mobile friendly version of their website.

As online strategy consultants, we see this inside-out view of the world in more subtle ways every day. Sometimes it's organizations that use their own internal jargon in site content, rather than the keywords their intended visitors type into Google searches. Or they lump together content for distinct audiences and expect users to sort it out themselves. Or they talk about product features rather than the benefits that customers will enjoy. In today's economy, competitive advantage increasingly relies on surrounding your products and services with experiences your audiences find meaningful.

This strategy must rest on a foundation of understanding what your audiences need, how they think and what motivates them. From there, an organization must translate its learnings into all its customer touch points. This is especially true for mobile, where a user’s location influences their needs at that moment.

TGIFriday's may be losing the cheese (in its décor, it turns out, not in the menu), but maybe that's what its customers really liked about the place. I hope they at least researched that.

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