Marketing Grand Slams 2010-11-01
Posted Date November 2010
Standout food and service are great, but not necessarily enough to ensure survival, let alone growth, in this environment. Last rites have been read the past couple of years to plenty of restaurants that did a good job of providing both. In many cases it comes down to marketing and the power of a good idea that separates the haves (i.e., places with buzz, customers, profitability…) from the have nots. Here's a look at great marketing moves some made this year to keep them in the "haves" column.
Idea: Create-Your-Own Powerhouse Salad Contest
Restaurant: Saladworks, 100+ units in 11 states
Goal: Create excitement, get new recipe ideas, boost fan interaction with the brand
Execution: Via Facebook and Twitter, fans were invited to submit recipes for their own signature salads using ingredients from the chain's 50-item True Nutrition menu, plus up to two ingredients not on the menu. Three winning salads named for their creators were featured systemwide as seasonal LTOs during 2010. Beyond bragging rights, each winner was awarded $500.
Results: Several thousand recipes poured in during the five-week contest entry period and several thousand new Facebook and Twitter fans signed on. "The social media buzz extended as we rolled out the three winning salads one by one throughout the year," says John Scardapane, founder, president and ceo. "By getting submissions from around the country, we also got insight into regional taste preferences and by inviting the use of up to two ingredients that we don't currently carry, we got ideas for new items to add to our menu." The contest also helped create awareness and trial of new ingredients recently added to Saladworks' menu. The company realized a 5 percent to 8 percent bump in comp-store sales for a few weeks following each LTO introduction. But the best long-term result, Scardapane says, is the social media buzz and customer interaction generated.
Why it worked: Customers appreciated that their ideas were solicited and put back into the brand; it provided a peek at ingredients and combinations that the chain's fan base is most interested in now; the R&D team got a huge infusion of fresh ideas; and it was cheap, with just three $500 prizes awarded and virtually all of the marketing taking place in free online space.