Number 5: Ready, Aim, Fire

The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Restaurant Marketing

NUMBER FIVE: Marketing is a “ready, aim, fire” discipline in a “ready, fire, aim” industry.

A number of years ago I worked for an operator that used the expression, “I’m just throwing spit wads on the wall.”  Having taught high school prior to getting into marketing, I cringed at the thought. But it made me realize that Operations and Marketing are wired differently. Marketers and chefs imagine or create new programs and products, while operators are the ones we count on to make them happen (sometimes against all odds and in ways that defy belief).

* Operators are like the Dunkin’ Donuts advertising persona from years ago…they’re the guys that “make the donuts” while the marketers and chefs are trying to come up with bigger and better ideas for donuts.

* But the faster the industry moves, marketers sometimes have to develop the strategy after the tactics are in place. “Here’s what we’re doing…how does it connect to our customers?”

* I loved the recent example from California. California is the first state to require menu labeling (even though Massachusetts, Oregon, Connecticut and Maine are not far behind). In an attempt to aim first, Panda Express and Taco Bell are among those taking the opportunity to actively promote more healthful items. El Pollo Loco, in addition to its high profile throw down with KFC, is adding drive-thru speaker wraps touting the fact that nutrition information is available on request.

* As challenging as it may seem, this is actually part of the fun of the restaurant business. The expression I used to use with my team at the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group was, “It’s like trying to shoe a galloping horse.”

Until next time, let me know your thoughts.