In today's episode, White Castle CMO, Kim Bartley, discusses how and why their iconic restaurants continue to thrive despite fierce competition in the burger space.
When talking about competitive landscapes, most industries have something in common. You’ve got a few big fish with huge marketing budgets, and then you have the challengers, waking up each day looking for innovative ways to compete for the same customers in the same market.
Some challengers lean on creative marketing, some invent unique business models, others are absolute fanatics about building customer relationships. Today’s guest, Kim Bartley, is the CMO for a company that's happened to have mastered all three of those things. Yep, we are talking about White Castle.
From tactical Facebook advertising to strategically providing a medium for "Cravers" to share about their love for the brand, White Castle has been building community and customer loyalty from the top down.
In today’s interview, Kim explains how White Castle has been so successful in the face of steep competition and changing consumer tastes. She discusses restaurant marketing topics that apply to brands both big and small, including:
How can you leverage data to thrive in a market full of brands with huge ad budgets? (This is one of Kim's main teaching points in her lectures at Ohio State, and her answer is about as practical as any food and restaurant marketing advice you'll hear.)
What can marketing leadership do to build a more loyal fanbase? (A little preview to this answer...Kim herself makes time each day to respond directly to customer feedback about new products and store experiences. Listening to customers isn't just an afterthought.)
Did Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle influence the restaurants' sales?(Ok, this answer might not help your business, but I couldn't resist asking. Plus, it's fun getting to second-hand experience what transpired since the idea of the movie was first introduced.)
Today, we’re talking with Pat Warner, VP of Culture at the Waffle House. For those of you who are not familiar with the Waffle House brand, they have over 1800 locations in 25 states — they are huge!
They’ve also got social media presence that gotten them coverage on Colbert, ESPN, and TMZ — just to name a few. Waffle House has a case study of how to turn customers and employees into advocates for the brand and a lot of it comes from using social media and how it is intended to be used.
If you’re interested in strengthening your company’s culture and how to measure the impact of your social media efforts, you’ll to take a lot away from this interview with Pat.
Pat’s job is to focus on building the company’s culture, while always staying true to the brand. Here are a few key topics we discuss about how Waffle House has grown to 1,850 locations in a less than in-your-face restaurant marketing approach:
How can large restaurants listen to employee and customer sentiment at scale?
(You’ll enjoy this answer, because the tools Waffle House uses are at the fingertips of all CPG and restaurant marketing professionals.)
What are the driving forces behind culture at a successful restaurant brand? (Pat believes that each restaurant has its own personality, and you’ll get to hear how his corporate office enables, and even facilitates the uniqueness and culture people keep coming back for.)
Can social media be used for both PR and restaurant marketing? (Short answer: Yes. Social media is a perfect extension of the discussions being had in your restaurant – as you’ll hear from Pat, leveraging those conversations can land you on the Colbert Report when done well.)
Books mentioned in the episode:
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Crucial Conversations by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan
On the show today, we have Eric Pierce, Director of Strategy and Insights at New Hope Natural Media. We’re talking 2017 trends that are affecting natural products and CPG companies. While this interview may be more geared toward our CPG marketing nerds out there, the macro and cultural shifts Eric covers really apply to anyone with a business model that relies on selling what people eat or drink.
Restaurant marketing nerds, there’s knowledge for you to be gained here too.
Eric and his team are extremely tapped in to the industry, and having just released their 2017 Trends and Opportunities Forecast, it was the perfect time to have him on the show. You'll get to hear about the report in this episode.
If you're interested in where the industry is headed, new categories of products that are starting to emerge, or are looking for potential areas of opportunity for your brand, you're going to take a lot away from our interview with Eric.
In our conversation, Eric tackles the latest trends and how as a marketer you can make the most of what's going on. Here are just a few topics we touch on in the interview:
What categories within natural products industry are most rife with opportunity in 2017 and beyond? (Eric and his team's ability to see and contextualize macro level data puts them in a unique position to catch trends ahead of the market. I think you'll enjoy hearing his answer to this question.)
What are the biggest 2017 trends food and beverage companies should watch out for? (With their 2017 Trends and Opportunities Forecast hot off the press, Eric shares findings from what he and his team have been working on.)
What are some of the driving forces behind the shifts in consumer taste? (The food industry is changing, and Eric connects the dots between a few trends in technology that may have a correlation to why we demand different food than we did just a decade ago.)
Links discussed in the episode:
Blue Ocean Strategy
The Dorito Effect by Mike Schatzker
The Third Plate by Dan Barber
The End of Plenty by Joel K. Bourne
Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
The Soil Will Save Usby Kristin Ohlson
The Good Gut by Erica Sonnenburg and Justin L. Sonnenburg
The Hidden Half of Nature by Anne Biklé and David Montgomery
Life's Engines by Paul Falkowski
Food, Inc. (documentary)
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (documentary)