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Failing the Kevlar Test

So, you’re interested to know more? About a time when things didn’t go as planned? Years ago, my first big corporate marketing project after transitioning from a Starbucks field marketing position was to develop an in-store marketing campaign to support a new product launch.

So, you’re interested to know more? About a time when things didn’t go as planned?

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Years ago, my first big corporate marketing project after transitioning from a Starbucks field marketing position was to develop an in-store marketing campaign to support a new product launch.

Having been in the field and witnessed previous promotions that didn’t necessarily have flawless execution, I was determined to make this one go without a hitch.

So there I am in my new marketing role… I’m maximizing opportunities. I’m leveraging my contacts. I’m looking for the low hanging fruit. I’m connecting and reaching out to co-workers. I’m over-using lots of jargon.

From start to finish, it took around 9 months putting together the strategy, working with the cross-functional team, developing the creative, writing partner (employee) training materials, and creating the in-store programming. That’s 270 days of working out details. I was proud of the accomplishment – so far.

The single most important tactic for this promotion, in fact the linchpin, was a customer take-away piece which featured a bounce-back coupon offer.

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I worked with the retail system team to assign a numeric code for the coupon so we could track redemptions. I meticulously determined the optimal quantity to send to all our stores. Training materials were developed for store partners (employees). The field marketing teams were 100% in the loop. And, I triple and quadruple-checked with the printer, making sure all marketing collateral, including the take-aways, were all on schedule.

I was confident all was set for the new product to launch flawlessly. Bulletproof. Kevlar.

So our promotion launches. The signage has been posted and the new products are gaining trial. But when I visited stores, no take-aways were to be found anywhere.

Geez, did the printer not get the pieces to the warehouse? I immediately called the warehouse and they confirmed that they had received the 2,300 cases. Delivery confirmed. *Phew*

A few days later when running my sales reports, I saw that we still hadn’t recorded any redemptions. Was the POS code not working? Check with IT–the registers were updated.

Hmmm…

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I called back to the warehouse to check on the shipment OUT of those pieces. They let me know they had 2,300 cases on-hand.

I was so concerned about ensuring they’d get to the warehouse on time, I never asked/thought about getting them from the warehouse to the stores!

There is this small piece of paper I hadn’t known about. It’s half-page in size. I was supposed to mark an “X” in the “ALL STORES” box and write “APRIL 23” on the ‘ship date’ line.

This 1/2 sheet of paper prevented the key piece of the promotion from being shipped to the 2000+ stores.

That’s a moment where I failed the Kevlar test.

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