Fears, Franks & Fierce Marketing

Kevin Higar, Author, Foodservice Marketing Consultant

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People love lists. Every time I’m about to engage in what my wife, Carol, considers foolish behavior, she sticks one under my nose. In most cases, it contains interactions with lawn and garden tools and an occasional unexpected garter snake in the yard that typically causes me to scream like a little girl.

On a technical level, experts will tell you people are drawn to lists because they offer created categories we can immediately identify as captivating or worthwhile. In mere moments, one can determine the amount of time and effort needed to consume these numbered insights, and readers can decide whether or not to proceed.

My guess is there are still New Year’s resolution lists occupying your life. While some of them are probably personal in nature (one of mine is to become more symbiotic with reptiles), I’ll bet at least one addresses business improvement.

Local Heroes

While I’m not Carnac the Magnificent (if you’re over 50 you probably get that reference; if you’re younger than that, find a really old person and ask them), I’m sure your business-improvement list addresses ways to attract and retain more customers. Here, perhaps, is a solution for your list: three critical elements of effective local store marketing (LSM) programs (coincidentally presented in the form of a list).

1. LSM messages develop customer awareness and repeat usage by illustrating lifestyle integration possibilities. If you want to capture someone’s attention, it’s critical to speak to their “consumer behavior motivators.” Why should customers spend their hard-earned dollars on a meal or snack solution specifically at your establishment? Some message suggestions include:

▶ Focus on your concept’s core: Consumers have shown a strong propensity toward supporting concepts that embrace values and causes they agree with.

▶ Emphasize preparation prowess: How do your culinary skills create memorable flavors customers will crave—and can be purchased only at your operation?

▶ Indulgence: Give consumers “permission” and “a reason” to treat themselves or others. Create and communicate a variety of calendar and social-based occasions or justifications during which people can rationalize a small, affordable indulgence.

2. Target “immediate locale” customers: You’d be surprised how many concepts don’t know their customer base and what should be emphasized. Millennials consider mobile technology a vital fit with their busy, highly connected lifestyles; Gen-Xers are most likely to be married with children; baby boomers have established foodservice purchasing and usage behaviors.

3. Both short and long-term customer interaction strategies are blended into the program: Develop incentives that draw in customers both today and down the road.

Doggone Targeted

Ready for an example? Consider Phoenix- based food truck Short Leash Hotdogs. While its menu is limited primarily to a few hot dogs, customer behavior motivators are captured through the unique flavor profiles topping each creation. Interestingly, each hot dog on the menu has a flavor profile inspired by an actual canine the founders either owned or knew. The dogs’ individual personalities have been translated into various toppings, and the final product bears each dog’s name and picture on the menu board.

The concept does a great job targeting “immediate locale” customers. As the concept talks to its “regulars” and learns about their pets, each week the founders create a special hot dog of the week. This LTO is based on one of the customers’ dogs (see photo), again re-creating the pooch’s personality via various ingredients. Talk about knowing and connecting with your customer base!

Finally, by offering both core and limited-time hot dog creations (communicated via various social media channels), the concept fulfills our third critical LSM element.

If you’d like more information on specific tactics that can be applied to the three critical elements I’ve outlined regarding LSM programs in emerging or mature markets, email me. I’ve got a few more lists I think you’ll find helpful. Trust me—I’d much rather be sitting safely in my study shooting out helpful emails to you vs. battling the scary reptiles lurking near my tomato plants.

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