What Happens When a Promotion Isn’t Pure Gold?

We work day-to-day as experts in the digital and traditional marketing environment, but even we strikeout at attempts to incite engagement. Our recent failed promotion handed us a healthy dose of humility, but we’ll learn from it and share those lessons with others.

In October, we set into motion an exciting, fun and timely promotion. Always looking for creative ways to show appreciation for our great clients, we began with that goal in mind and tied it in with Halloween.

What we thought would be exciting for our audience turned out to be exciting for about four people – us. Is a promotion successful if no one talks about it? No. And though we aimed to have it “talked” about on Facebook, even some response via other channels – email or phone calls would have sufficed. We got neither.

Summary of promo

Following in the footsteps of Willy Wonka, we sent out sweet-filled packages of chocolate bars and notes of thanks. Six of the packages contained a bonus surprise of golden tickets to be redeemed for a prize. Simplicity is valuable, so the note also contained instructions – find a golden ticket, post a photo on Facebook. Once the packages went out, teasers were posted on both Facebook and Twitter.


In our minds, we pictured golden ticket winners enthusiastically jumping for joy, primed to post a silly photo come Halloween. Client appreciation was key here but boosting engagement through social media would’ve been a bull’s-eye hit for our efforts.

Actual Outcome

How many Facebook “winner” photos were posted? One. And it was three days after Halloween.

Though grateful to the individual who did post a picture, our team was feeling disappointment and maybe even a little embarrassed that day. Since one of us won a costume contest that morning and one was dressed as Wonder Woman, that’s saying a lot.

We did get a few “thank you” emails for a week or two and we appreciated those people reaching out. We considered many reasons for the less than stellar response and will look to these questions when it comes time for another promotional campaign:

  • What is best the way to get information out to our wide base of clients? Is it assumptive that everyone is on social media now? Though most people have a Facebook account, we can’t assume they check it every day, or even every week.
  • Is getting something in the traditional mail becoming so obsolete that people don’t even check their mailboxes at work on a regular basis?
  • We missed one channel of engagement: would an e-blast teaser about the promotion served better?
  • I shudder to say it – but do people really not read anymore? Could the golden tickets have been tossed as people ripped into the chocolate bar anticipating their tasty treat?
  • Did the chocolate go missing? Are there a bunch of chocolate thieves out there?!

Lesson Learned

We definitely won’t stop showing appreciation for our clients. We also won’t stop exploring the best ways to use social media for engagement and how to best develop response-garnering campaigns. We’ve taken the futile Halloween promotion with a grain of salt and will initiate a different plan of attack next time.

Moral of the story: live and learn. Social media allows for a good many experiments, and fail or feat, we’ll keep digging for those best practices!