Living Large: Brands Describe Marketing Tactics

Bottle & Bottega has a rich arsenal of photos and video to deploy in its marketing efforts. “We’re obviously very digital media-heavy, because we have so much great content every night,” says Nancy Bigley, CEO of the art-making and wine-sipping franchise. “We have pictures and video of people every night, having fun.”

Her franchise provides “a lot of tools” to franchisees, including an individual Facebook page for each operator, and now an individual LinkedIn page as well. Google Adwords is a must, plus Twitter and Instagram.

Corporate develops all the platforms, making sure the branding is consistent, and provides those tools to franchisees as part of their start-up package. Franchisees have the ability to post to their pages, and corporate reserves the right to take things down.

But for now they’re drawing the line at Pinterest, even though that platform is “huge in the art world. You’ve got to prioritize, because you can’t have everything,” she says. Her PR firm, All Points PR in Chicago, advises where to invest. “Where are the key places we need to be? What are people using the most?” are the questions she is keen to answer. “There might be something cool to use,” but if Bottle & Bottega’s core customers aren’t there in sufficient numbers, they will pass for now.

“People can post anywhere, so you have to be mindful what’s going on in your studios. Because if you don’t do it right, it’s going to get out there.”
— Nancy Bigley, Bottle & Bottega

All that social media leads to the inevitable—all kinds of customers able to say whatever they want about their experience, which is the new reality for any business, retail especially.

“It’s scary in some ways,” Bigley says. “I also think it puts the focus where it should be, which is on guest service. You have to be even more diligent about guest service.” Her staff trains operators on this subject “from day one. We say, people can post anywhere, so you have to be mindful what’s going on in your studios. Because if you don’t do it right, it’s going to get out there.”

Despite all the high-tech tools, there’s no substitute for being alert during every Bottle & Bottega event. “We’re in a happy business, so if anybody has a frown on their face you better get over to them right now. There’s got to be a reason,” she says, and an old-school, face-to-face intervention can go a long way to avert the dreaded negative post.

Trying for trust

Reaching the end-user customer is a little difficult for Executive Care, because they sell homecare services indirectly, through referral partners such as hospitals or nursing homes.

Plus, unlike a plumber or an electrician, “we’re selling a very personal type of service,” says CEO Lenny Verkhoglaz, so people go to a trusted source before they purchase—probably not to a Google search, but rather to a friend or relative or social worker or discharge planner.

Executive Care had good news to report in September on the franchise sales front. They’ve added two units in Naples, Florida, and one in Houston. When it comes to marketing to consumers, the franchise’s top sales channel is direct referral marketing, the press-the-flesh, face-to-face kind, so strong community engagement on the part of franchisees is “very, very important.” Operators are encouraged to participate in Alzheimer’s walks or sponsor cancer drives. “To be known, to be respected in the community,” is the goal.

“You are an authority on senior care, and you are a trusted and quality partner,” is the position operators aim to reach, he says.

The second channel is organic search, to try to move higher in search results. Blogging is an important part of this effort, and the franchise employs a social media specialist and a blogger to post for individual franchisees, thus taking care of a task most operators don’t enjoy, at least at Executive Care.

Continuous publishing is the mandate on a variety of social media platforms. “It’s not an easy topic to tackle,” Verkhoglaz says, and all franchises are trying to figure out the magic formula to reach customers the right way. “Everybody’s doing it and everybody’s putting money into it. It’s a crapshoot.

“You might be up one day and the next day someone will push you down,” he adds. “You have to constantly work, work, work at it.”

Executive Care also uses low-tech marketing tools, including giveaways to hand out at community events with contact information. “We try to give out good stuff. We don’t want to put garbage on people’s desks,” he says. “We put out quality materials that people actually use.”

A good time

CEO Tom Lewison takes a thorough approach to all things at Wild Wing Cafe, and marketing to consumers is no exception. Their effort started with an analysis of the brand, with the goal to identify the brand persona and brand pillars.

“Ultimately, that leads into our brand positioning, who we are and how we represent ourselves,” he says.

Wild Wing Cafe is different from many restaurant chains, hosting many events each year including live concerts. “We throw big parties, big events in our restaurants,” he says, so they emphasize the “wild” part of their name. “We’re irreverent in our marketing. We have fun with it,” Lewison says, including a campaign being developed now by a new ad agency called A Big Idea Group.

They use radio ads, TV ads, digital work and public relations among other tools, and all with the message that guests will have a good time. For example, point of purchase materials in stores have bright, vibrant colors and an unconventional look. Menus feature a guitar with wings and the tagline: Where great food rocks. “We try to articulate the fun factor in Wild Wing Cafe. You’re going to enjoy yourselves,” he says.

If people don’t, Lewison is calm. “You really can’t do much about it, other than trying to  influence the next transaction,” says Lewison about negative posts about his restaurants. To that end, he’s launching a Voice of the Guest program, and one element will be a way to pull all the social media comments into one database, wherever it comes from.

“We’ll be able to analyze, what are the top three things we’re getting banged up on, and what are the top things people like?” he says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what it says.”

Wild Wing is also adding a new position at each restaurant, a promotional specialist, charged with creating each restaurant’s event calendar and staging the events. They’ve also started a social media squad at each restaurant, bringing in for training those employees who are always on their phones anyway, and asking them to officially post.

“There’s so much power there, because they know what’s going on. ‘We have this great brand that’s crushing it tonight. Come out and see them,’” might be one of the posts. Lewison hopes the grab bag of strategies will keep Wild Wing Cafe crushing it, as well.

“We’ll be able to analyze, what are the top three things we’re getting banged up on, and what are the top things people like?
I’m looking forward to seeing what it says.”
— Tom Lewison, Wild Wing Cafe