Stop and Look Around

Take these social sightings and turn them into c-store sensations.

Kevin Higar, Author, Foodservice Marketing Consultant

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Capitalizing at the C-Store Level: Could there be a better foundation for your social media dialogue? Core elements of the concept create the common theme of messages, and unexpected offerings from time to time will keep your customers engaged, in the know and returning.

No. 6: On Location

I was recently in Hoboken, N.J. In case that city doesn’t ring a bell, it’s the home of Carlo’s Bakery, or the “Cake Boss,” as it’s affectionately known on TV. There was a three-hour wait to get inside the establishment. I’ve also been to The Thurman Café in Columbus, Ohio, which was featured on “Man vs. Food” a few years ago. I spoke with the manager during my lunch and he indicated the increase in business since the restaurant and its unique burger (the size of a Volkswagen) were featured on the show has been nothing short of phenomenal. People love unique. They want to physically stand and experience where those achieving cultural differentiation on television have gone through their paces. Even 30 years after the original “Dallas” TV series went off the air, as I drive by Southfork Ranch near my home in Dallas, tourists flock to look at the house they saw during the show.

Capitalizing at the C-Store Level: What makes a visit to your establishment unique? Contemporary communication tools such as Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook make it easy and inexpensive to build and communicate why your c-store is a rock star that must be visited to experience. At the same time, the growing returns many concepts are experiencing with old-school local marketing means traditional engagement avenues such as the local news, morning talk shows or radio can also help you develop a persona people want to experience. Do a white-space analysis and identify your true strategic differentiation. Then communicate it in a socially relevant manner. 

No. 7: Cross-Training Life

In 2012, Stand Up MN and Streaming Studios teamed up with the Maple Grove Triathlon in Minnesota to create a truly unique cross-training experience. Participants began with 30 minutes of vigorous paddle-boarding on the Mississippi River, then connected to anchors and cranked up an intense Pilates workout right there on the water. The overriding objective was enhanced fitness (mine would be not getting seasick), but participants achieved this goal by piecing together a variety of little activities to get there.

Millennials are strong proponents of this philosophy. In the workplace, the tough working situation and their need to generate income has led to an employment strategy that often means engaging in small amounts of work here and there, often in unrelated fields. MTV has dubbed this activity “sidetrepreneurism.” This whole idea of taking a little here and a little there and creating a desired outcome is a mindset they’re applying to multiple aspects of daily life.

Capitalizing at the C-Store Level: Create a marketing message that assures consumers the concept’s foodservice program has the ability to successfully integrate with their lifestyles. The “daily life” cross-training mindset many of these individuals possess is appealed to by offering a variety of customizable bundling options and perhaps small-plate selections that can be combined to achieve overall meal solution objectives. This might mean pairing sweet and savory items (satisfying multiple taste buds), a breakfast item for now and a lunch item for later (one stop before work and two day-parts satisfied), or healthy and indulgent selections sharing the same proverbial plate (satisfying a balanced-meal mindset).

No. 8: Open Floor Plans Are Hot

When people were asked to look at pictures of a rolling savannah and a vine-cluttered jungle and then choose one to live in, almost every respondent opted for the wide-open environment. One of the most deeply rooted explanations for this can be traced back to our earliest years of existence. Cluttered spaces such as forests made it very difficult to spot predators. In an open field, potentially harmful or stressful situations immediately presented themselves. Humans could quickly identify the best course of action.

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