Marketing and Roast Beef Sandwiches

I love Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. When I see those shiny Arby’s coupons wedged into our apartment’s mailbox, it practically starts me drooling.

The mail was a little late this week, and since I used up our coupons from last week, I decided to go online and scrounge. After digging deep into Google, all I found was a disappointingly corporate page touting the greatness of Arby’s roast beef, and a stingy coupon worse than the ones I got in the mail. 

This blows my mind. Arby’s has a fan (me) who’s so dedicated that he’ll search through dozens of websites looking for coupons, on his own time, using his own computer, that’s he’s willing to print using his own paper and ink. And instead of being rewarded for my crazy dedication to beef, I’m being punished with a crappy coupon and a lot of corporate-speak. 

It doesn't have to be this way anymore. Imagine if Arby’s fired their current advertising agency, and started rewarding it’s loyal customers instead of penalizing them. They could eliminate all print ads overnight, and instead start writing a super-low budget blog about beef.

The blog would talk about meat, pitch new products, and offer amazing coupons every week. They can afford to offer genuinely great deals now, since they’ve stopped forking over tens of millions of dollars on advertising each year to interrupt people who aren't interested anyway. 

Arby’s could encourage workers all over the country to get creative and whip up new sandwich recipes, instead of just slicing meat all day. If they came up with a great combination, Arby's would sell it for one day only at the store as a special. Each week, one winner with the best single-day sales in the country would be submitted on the blog for voting. Each month, there’d be a new winner and stores would offer it nation-wide. And the Arby’s employee who created it would get a healthy stock option or scholarship, their choice.

Why won’t this happen at Arby’s anytime soon? It involves top-down change. And that terrifies the leaders of a company as large as Arby's.  If things don't work immediately, there’s just too much money on the line to lose, and the brave managers that are responsible get fired. And this is how so many big companies work: barring a sudden crisis at the company, no one is going to realize the ship is sinking until it’s too late.

We don’t have that excuse. If you’re a musician, you’re the president, middle management, marketing director, and chief burger flipper in your company. We’re in control. And we don’t have the luxury of pretending the old ways are always going to work. Be bold- start a blog. Interact with the people that love what you do. After all, it's doesn't take anything more than some time.