Of Cracker Jack, Cereal Boxes and Customer Expectations

by Ken Mueller on August 29, 2012 · 1 comment

A picture of an old Cracker Jack box

Don’t raise my expectations only to dash them.

I grew up in the 70s and have fond memories of getting a box of Cracker Jack. If you were anything like me, the food itself was good, but the real draw was the prize. I’d open the box and dig to the bottom, hoping to find something cool. I remember getting rings, glow in the dark toys, and all sorts of other objects. Fast forward a few decades and it’s a very different story. Today’s prizes always seem to be something flat pressed between two pieces of thin cardboard. Often a stick on tattoo or something else that pales in to comparison to the prizes of my youth.

Cereal boxes were also a source of excitement. My mom would come home from the grocery store and we’d eagerly await to see which, if any, of the sugary variety she would have purchased. After all, not only were they the best cereals (skip the All Bran, thank you) but they often had toys inside. Perhaps a Matchbox car or some kind of whistle or a toy that could be used in the bathtub. And we knew about these toys because they were advertised on the television commercials. This is probably one of the reasons why my mom didn’t like taking us to the store: she knew we would lobby for the cereal with the highest sugar content and coolest prize. But again, I feel like I don’t often see many cereals touting prizes, and when they do, they just don’t seem as exciting.

Times have changed, but of course the kids of today don’t know any different. They aren’t aware of how wonderful things were in the “good old days.”

As we offer things to our customers, whether it be a special deal or discount, the outcome must meet or exceed the expectations. Don’t promise me a great prize if all I get is some useless trinket or miniscule discount. If you’re using Foursquare or Facebook Deals, make sure you’re offering me something worthwhile. Certainly you don’t want to break the bank, but give me a reason to check in to your business. If you’re gonna offer something, make it worthwhile. Don’t leave me saying “oh…that’s it?”. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to have some level of perceived value for the customer.

This doesn’t mean you always have to offer some kind of special deal, but that’s one of the top reasons that people connect with businesses on social media: to get special deals and discounts. It’s not only what they want, it’s what they expect.

Just make sure that whatever you offer is worth their while, and certainly don’t over promise and under deliver. Never leave them disappointed. Of course a big part of that is not just offering them something, but communicating it to them clearly.

What are you offering, and how are you making sure you aren’t disappointing your customers?



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