Designing marketing campaigns to promote growth, sustainability

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When the word “marketing” pops up, the initial thought is of pushing out the name of a brand or new product or service, but today’s marketing is playing a much bigger role for fast casual brands — specifically within the customer experience.

It means being fast, nimble, responsive and pivoting quick when something doesn’t work. As a panel discussion revealed at the recent three-day Fast Casual Executive Summit, marketing has become a sophisticated and invaluable tool fast casuals are depending on for growth, sustainability and success.

The annual summit, run by Fast Casual’s parent company, Networld Media Group, draws restaurant executives interested in learning and networking via interactive sessions.

The session, “How to execute winning marketing campaigns,” was sponsored by GFX International, a design, printing, execution and logistics partner solving in-store issues for retailers and brands and moderated by GFX Director of Business Development Katie Thorstenson.

Marketing in 2018

Marketing, according to Susie Fogelson, founder of consultancy F&Co.; Rachel Layton, vice president of marketing for Taziki’s Mediterranean Café and Billie Jo Waara, chief marketing officer at Cici’s Pizza, is about focus, alignment and using big and deep data to develop and drive strategy.

That last element — data — is critical to ensuring the marketing campaign is on target from the get-go whether it’s promoting a new menu item or ordering option.

“You need to distill the data to stay focused on goals,” said Layton.

That focus for CICi’s, said Waara, is ensuring the marketing lens is on “what’s core for the guest,” and leaving some “room” to iterate as marketing can sometimes be a trial and error, learning experience.

Marketing for fast casuals goes beyond just promoting a limited-time offer or a new menu item. It’s helping brand connect with food culture and connect with consumers.

“You tell the food story, the culture, brand. Food is multicultural and inclusive,” said Fogelson.

It’s playing a key role for Taziki’s, which aims to scale and grow in the next five years and so marketing, said Layton, must have buy-in from everyone, especially those on the front lines.

“That frontline is telling your story to customers,” she said.

Focus, focus, focus

At Cici’s marketing is about staying true to its core and “being true and highly focused in what you’re trying to be as a brand,” said Waara, adding it’s about “our story.”

The brand’s marketing campaigns are targeting value, variety, fun. “What we offer,” she said.

A key aspect is balancing new innovations with what the brand is doing at its core.

“Alignment is the real key to success of marketing campaigns,” said Waara, adding that the marketing team is asking “are we understanding the goals?”

Creating local and personalized messaging

Crafting local and personalized marketing requires a team brand effort and data, said the panelists.
At Taziki the effort starts with the people within the brand — staff and on up — from developing ideas to social media aspects.
“It’s grassroots marketing,” said Layton.

At Cici’s the first step is identifying the issue to be solved — whether it’s getting the word out about new food or a payment option — and eliminating guest pain points.

“How will the LTO different from what’s down the street, it’s about understanding how diners use Cici’s every day. It’s about celebrating the guest.”

Marketing for a fast casual, said Fogelson, is all about telling the food story.

“It’s a way for a brand to make an emotional connection with the food consumers, strategic positioning that resonates with the customer.”
Waara views marketing as channels allowing a brand to connect with the guest wherever they are — in and out of the restaurant.

“You need to build a roadmap, and you’re not going to get there overnight. Just stay true to what you’re striving to communicate. It’s about quality, not quantity.”


Republished with permission from FastCasual.

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