Tag Archives: marketing

Your employees are your brand

What is a QSR brand? Is it your logo and advertising? Or is it your food?

Your brand is the sum total of the entire customer experience: your advertising, your social media activities, the customer service you provide, your community involvement, the restaurant design, the cleanliness of your washrooms… and the quality of your food. Every one of these factors can and will influence the opinion of your customers.

But there’s another aspect to your brand that’s as important as the food: your employees. Many QSRs make sizable investments in-store décor but don’t invest in comprehensive employee training.

QSRs are typically staffed by students working part-time positions. Managers may sometimes not see the value in training them because there is often high staff turnover. However, a well-trained and motivated employee is more likely to remain loyal and not look elsewhere.

The fact is that students are eager to learn and want to do well: there is a sense of well-being and satisfaction that comes from positive achievements.

QSR employees are often provided with basic training on how to assemble the food and serve customers. They may recognize that customer service is important, but not what to do… or why.

They’re told “what” to do, but the “why” is missing from the equation.

• Do your employees understand your brand values and what you stand for as an organization?
• How to they fit into – and contribute to – the delivery of your brand values?
• Do they understand how their contribution helps the company, and how it helps them personally to grow?

Educate your employees on how the skills they learn at your restaurant are life skills and are transferable. They will help them throughout their career and life.

Finally, remember that continued positive reinforcement is not just important but crucial: recognize and reward your employees successes and good work. Do it both in the moment – a quiet “you did a great job with that customer” goes a long way – and in a more formal manner with a rewards program that has achievable goals and rewards.

The end result: you’ll improve employee satisfaction, retain your best employees longer, and enhance your customers’ experience of your brand.

Marketing and esports: What you need to know

The esports Ecosystem

Esports is “the next big thing”… or so we’ve been told. According to Deloitte, $4.5B USD was invested in esports in 2018 alone. Esports is not without complexity and issues, but it also has the potential to become one of the most important entertainment platforms. What is it, how does it work, and how can marketers leverage it?

What does esports stand for?

Esports is the competitive practice of video games.

Esports word

The value chain of esports

Esports publishers, teams, athletes, broadcasters and streamers all share a common goal in esports: they want to engage the fans.

Esports publishers use their large R&D budgets to develop and maintain games. They create the games and own the intellectual property, which is the main difference with traditional sports such as the NBA, MLB or NFL where the club owners control the leagues. Esports games vary widely, from sport simulation to first-personal shooter. These games can be played with smartphones, desktop PCs or gaming consoles.

Esports events also vary widely, from local competitions to worldwide events that can fill stadiums. Like traditional sports, fans who attend games in person get to see performances by the most elite esports athletes. Click here to see the biggest event in esports in 2019.

Today, esports teams and individual athletes are viewed as professional as in any other sport and are gaining huge followings with fans.

Broadcasters and streamers create esports content for their online communities through platforms such as Twitch or Mixer, playing the game on their own or commenting someone else’s play. These broadcasters and streamers have also generated loyal esports followers.

Whether you are a food brand, a sports apparel company, or another brand that hopes to attract a young, digitally engaged audience, esports represents a growing and attractive opportunity.

Millennials: Healthy Eating vs Convenience

The past decade has seen an increasing consumer trend to move away from functional foods (food that is processed, modified, and/or contains additives) toward more basic, “whole foods”.

But millennials, more than any other age group, prioritize convenience over healthy eating. They spend less time on food preparation than any other age group. They eat at restaurants and get takeout food more than any other age group. And food delivery services and mobile ordering are increasingly popular with millennials.

Millennials say that they prefer healthy, whole foods over functional foods, but not at the expense of convenience, taste, and cost.

This represents a big opportunity for health food brands and quick service restaurants (QSRs). How can your brand deliver both healthy eating AND convenience?

Health food brands should consider offering packaged, prepared take-home meals that offer convenience without processed ingredients. It’s a growing category in groceries, and these meals could also be available via your own online ordering & delivery service.

Likewise, quick-service restaurants can offer complete “meal in a box” packages via their app or website, including home delivery, making it easy and convenient for consumers to have dinner delivered right to their door.

TikTok marketing tips. The new social phenomenon.

TikTok is a social media app for creating and sharing short videos. The app was launched in 2017 by ByteDance. While the app was originally mostly used to share music videos, it’s now a platform to showcase talent of all kinds: skateboarding, stand-up, dancing, fashion… On TikTok everything revolves around “sounds”. Most TikTok videos are up to 15 seconds long, although you can create stories up to 60 seconds in length. TikTok had over 1.1 billion installs as of March 2019, with more than 500 million new users each month.

Who uses TikTok?
66% of TikTok users are under 30 years old and two-thirds are female. TikTok presents a real opportunity to reach Generation Z.

How can brands use TikTok?
As with most social media platforms, brands can create their own channels and upload engaging content. The key to success is to create content that fits within the style and tone that users are accustomed to on TikTok. This means taking a “soft sell” approach and posting content that is entertaining and follows TikTok’s “talent showcase” format. Blatantly commercial content will be viewed negatively by TikTok’s Gen Z user base.

Brands can also work with influencers to spread their message on TikTok. As with Instagram, influencers are very popular on TikTok, with some accounts having up to 32 millions followers.

TikTok has also introduced an advertising platform, currently in beta testing in the US and Europe. Brand takeover, in-feed video, and hashtag challenges are available for advertisers.

“TikTok isn’t just for kids. It may seem so now… but “cool kids” are trendsetters as we all know, and then others follow. At minimum, for any brand that wants to hang out/understand/target the “cool kids” and their followers… they should be on TikTok.”
– Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director of General Catalyst (Invested in Snap)

More info here.

The New Age of Digital Advertising

This past summer, Google took steps to give users more control over their online privacy, allowing users to block or clear third-party cookies more easily.

The past few years have seen numerous media reports about how companies are harvesting and using seemingly personal data to do everything from delivering personalized advertising to influencing political opinions. Consequently, consumers have become increasingly leery of platforms like Facebook and Google.

In recent years, election interference in multiple countries and cyberattacks have resulted in new data privacy legislation, such as the EU’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. These new regulations control how brands and technology providers gather and use data, which in turn limits advertising capabilities.

Google hasn’t eliminated cookies, because cookies are also used to keep users signed in to favourite websites. But Google and other online providers recognize that cookie technology can be exploited and is under fire from legislators, and eventually new, more secure technology will take its place. Brands must prepare for a cookie-less future.

The demise of cookies will transform how brands and publishers gather and utilize data. As more users block third-party cookies, targeted advertising won’t be as easy as it was during the cookie era. Brands will have to rethink how they reach their target audience, spread their message and trigger interest.

Customization and pinpoint targeting are currently the greatest benefits of digital advertising. Until technology companies find new, less invasive methods of online targeting, digital marketing will become more of a mass marketing platform.

In the cookie-less world, creativity will be the most important factor in order to engage your online audience, encourage conversation and sharing, and provide value to your customers.

Advertising QSRs in 2019: Change the Social Channel

What social media channels are you using to promote your QSR chain? When it comes to QSRs and social marketing, it might be time for you to change the channel.

Owned social: When your social marketing is restricted to your “owned” social channels, the odds are you won’t win new customers. Why not? The content on your channels will only be seen by people who follow your channel. And if they follow your channel, it’s because they already know and like what you do. You’re preaching to the converted.

Paid social: If you want to reach beyond your current followers, you could invest in a “paid social” campaign – either by “boosting” your post or creating a stand-alone paid ad on Facebook and/or Instagram. Stand-alone ads give you more targeting tools than boosted posts: detailed demographic, geotargeting and filtering by interests. Paid social is certainly a more effective means of reaching new potential customers. However, there are inherent drawbacks for businesses like QSRs. Facebook and Instagram ads are most effective when you can establish focused target audiences whose interests directly align with your offering. But there is no “typical” QSR customer demographic: they range from pre-teens to seniors. And while Facebook interest keywords are fairly detailed (e.g. “fried chicken”, “fast food, “fast casual restaurant”) it simply means that people have “expressed an interest in” the keyword. Facebook tracks both the pages that users follow and the content of their posts and comments, and uses that data to target users with related advertising. In fact, their “interest” may actually be negative: “I would never eat fast food fried chicken!” Still, paid social is inexpensive and can be effective with the right targeting, a motivating offer and a measurable goal. A recent Facebook campaign by Church’s Chicken resulted in an 8X return on ad spend. The geotargeted campaign tracked store visits and spend per person.

Influencers: Many brands focus their social dollars on an influencer strategy: paying high profile social media users to promote their products. By 2020, it’s estimated that $8 billion will be spent on Instagram influencer marketing alone. It makes sense: people trust recommendations from real people more than they trust advertising and promotions from brands. But as more and more social media users jump into the pool and label themselves as “influencers”, their impact becomes more and more diluted. There’s a glut of influencer content. As a brand, you’re paying for access to their followers and the “influence” they have over their followers. Keep in mind, however, that many social users follow influencers not because they blindly adhere to the influencer’s recommendations, but because they want free stuff. The keys to influencer marketing are to find influencers who have strong, trusted reputations in the restaurant or food fields, and to implement systems to measure the outcome.

Local media channels: Another viable option on social media is to promote your restaurant via restaurant review websites and blogs. They are trusted sources for information and reviews of restaurants and fast-casual chains. For example, Toronto’s blogTO has over 500,000 followers on Instagram who look to their content for recommendations on events, activities and the latest and best dining options. But as with any social campaign, make sure you develop a program with trackable ROI: a discount that can only be redeemed via an app, or a new menu offering that is only promoted via the media partner.

There are multiple opportunities to promote your QSR via social media. A successful campaign could incorporate all of them. But no matter which channels you choose, the key is to execute a campaign that’s trackable and measurable. Likes, comments and shares aren’t enough; you need to drive and measure the impact on in-store sales.

Collision (of) Course.

Aside from the star-studded cast of actors, business tycoons and athletes, I didn’t know what to expect with Collision 2019.
As a Collision noob, I took this opportunity to learn, but more importantly find inspiring stories and start-ups with interesting trajectories. Let’s face it – we live in some tough times, and the world needs a lot more positivity.
Upon arriving, I instantly got the impression this was going to be unlike any other conference I’d attended. As a creative, it’s my job to feel out trends and to seek out what works and what doesn’t. For me, Collision was about the struggles and challenges small business faces day in and day out. The hustle was strong, and the pitches were equally so. Many were nervous, and some were less polished. Either way, it was refreshing to see so many bold ideas pushed into a public space for all to see.
Going through the schedule, I knew of most of the heavyweight speakers, so I sought out speakers who were new to me.
With that in mind, here are my top three moments of Collision 2019.
Marketing Amid Disruption with Linda Boff
(Chief Marketing Officer at GE)
What struck me about Linda’s keynote was how she was able to pivot General Electric’s 127-year-old brand to be more in tune with today’s energy conversation. Their clean Instagram feed not only highlights their innovations, it includes the human aspect. People make these achievements possible.

In Defense of the “Jack-Of-All-Trades” with Graham McDonnell 
(Creative Director, New York Times)
Graham’s talk resonated with me on various levels. We’re both musicians, both creatives, and both struggle with trying to take on everything. He spent 30 minutes diving deep into the Specialist vs Generalist debate, and by the end I asked myself one question: Where would I be if I didn’t try to at least learn one more thing?
Here is a link to his bio.
Leadership Lessons
Terrell Owens (Professional athlete), Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite), Alex Kantrowitz (Buzzfeed)
These three speakers were brutally honest and as hard as nails in telling it like it is. Determination and perseverance are among the most important keys to success. As an athlete, I’ve learned that what you put in is what you get out. If you take short cuts, in business or in life, your performance undoubtably suffers.

Click here for more info on Collision 2020!

Exclusive inclusivity – Part two: Feeding our social needs

What motivates consumers to attend specific arts, entertainment or sports programming? Recent behavioral research has identified consumer tendencies towards products and experiences which reflect their ideal self-image.

We’ve always been driven by a need for self-actualization and self-fulfillment. We chose to participate in activities and events that bolster our ideal self-image. Are you an Eagles-loving NFL fan, or is an NBA game and DJ Khaled concert more your style?

What’s different today is that we have the social tools that enable these needs: we constantly curate and define our image via our social channels. Our social content says to the world: “here’s who I am.”

But here’s the catch: while we want to stand out from the pack and be seen as individuals, we also tend to seek experiences where we’ll be among our peers and where we’ll feel comfortable.

How does this impact arts, entertainment and sports marketing? The best entertainment marketing communicates “exclusive inclusivity”. It creates an attitude and image that sets the experience apart as unique but that also mirrors the attitude of the target audience. It says “you’re unique, but you’ll also fit in”. It taps into the psychographic needs of its target audience and encourages us to feel good about our decision to attend and about sharing the experience with others.

Our self-image changes over time – as do our entertainment choices. Field Day’s annual research shows clear and predictable differences in our live entertainment choices based on age, gender, education and geographic location. And those differences are influenced by our psychographic needs. The illustration below shows the differences in entertainment choices of an urban female millennial vs a suburban male boomer.

Tapping into the needs, motivations and idealized self-image of your target demographic and creating an atmosphere of “exclusive inclusivity” is key to marketing success.

Is ethical marketing risky?

Ethical marketing has seen a big rise in popularity and effectiveness in the last five years, but consumers are now expecting more from brands in their social actions. In 2019, brands with a clear social conscience are leading the way with consumers. According to the Shelton Group, 86% of consumers want brands to take a stand on social issues. In 2018, few campaigns were more popular than Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad.

In 2019, consumers want to align themselves with brands that reflect their own ethics and principles. The challenge with ethical marketing is that consumers expect action and not just words and pretty pictures. While consumers sometimes feel powerless to implement social change on a large scale, they know that corporations often have the financial and political clout to influence change.

For example, Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for racial bias training (internal influence), while Patagonia sued the US government in a bid to protect Bears Ears National Monument and coordinated the fight to protect this public land (external influence).

Ethical marketing is far from traditional marketing and it may seem risky. It takes visionary internal leadership to define a company’s moral values and to make them integral to a company’s ethos. It requires close collaboration between operations, public relations and marketing.

But when it’s done right, ethical and social marketing brings to light the core values of a company, and in doing so has a far deeper and longer lasting impact than a traditional ad campaign. It’s not about a product; it’s about a way of living.

Franchising and the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Think back to when you opened your own business. That first location was a labour of love. You sweated over every decision, large and small: products, pricing, suppliers, decor, equipment… You took on a huge risk in launching your own business and nothing happened without your careful consideration.

Within a few years you were successful enough that you started to think about expansion. And that’s when someone whispered the magic word in your ear: “franchising”. Why franchising? It allows you to expand quickly without shouldering the debt and risk. But when franchisees are the ones carrying the financial burden, they want to ensure their investment will pay off. Ideally, they want a say in the decision-making, or at the very least they need to trust that the decisions are being made by a team of qualified professionals.

But you’ve always made all the decisions, and it’s worked so far. Why change? When all of the decisions flow through you, you create a bottleneck and nothing happens quickly. But more importantly, you don’t necessarily have the time or expertise to make effective decisions on every aspect of your growing business.

In your early days, you may have enjoyed designing your own advertising or choosing the colour of your wall paint, but now those tasks are simply distractions from the real work you should be doing. When franchisees see the CEO involved in every minute decision, they will quickly lose trust that they are part of a well-managed organization.

This is when you need to let go of your entrepreneur mindset and relinquish control.

One common solution is to engage your franchisees, share your plans, and solicit their input. But here’s where the danger lies: like you, franchisees are entrepreneurs who don’t necessarily have the expertise to make effective decisions on every area of the business. If you give your franchisees decision-making power you likely won’t get the business results you need.

Make sure you hire qualified professionals in each key area of your business – from franchising to operations – and empower them to do their jobs. This isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to franchising. Regardless of the industry, great leaders know how to delegate. When your franchisees see a management team that is skilled, efficient and effective – and more importantly, when they see the financial results – they’ll recognize that their future is in good hands and you’ll gain their lasting trust.