The Embers are Being Stoked.
Restaurant industry conferences over the last year have exploded with service provider panels selling apps, loyalty, and other marketing technology solutions. The iconic Chris Sullivan, founder of Outback Steakhouse, made an impassioned plea to marketers to adopt a new way of marketing to guests leveraging technology. He asked MEG Spring 2014 marketing attendees, “Who in your organization will champion technology? Your CEO? Your CIO? You will because it is important to the guest!”
The general feeling from recent industry conferences is that it is now not “if” these technologies will be adopted by restaurants but “when” and who will emerge as our industry’s Digital Pacesetter.
The Industry Needs Thought Leaders….and a New Marketing Playbook
The industry has been recently stuck in a cycle of re-running the same Marketing Playbook with diminishing returns with increasing outside pressure on margins from commodity price increases, healthcare and wage reform. There is a desperate need for marketing to drive sales profitably and expand margins.
The truth is that we know the old Playbook doesn’t work but what will the new Playbook look like? And who has the knowledge, talent and resources to figure it out? The restaurant category is in need of a total re-think of our standard go-to market plans.
I believe that technology that enhances the guest experience and captures data to power one-to-one data-driven marketing is part of the solution for our industry. The other half of the equation is for evolved thought-leadership from our Marketing teams.
Marketers Should Lead the Conversation…Not Providers
Marketers who recognize the value could spend months in capability reviews and webinars just to keep up to date. And many marketing teams are in analysis paralysis due to lack of resources and talent to conceptualize a new Marketing Playbook. Other brands that have adopted marketing technology are driving decisions based on tactical vendor selection versus C-level adoption of data-driven, cross-functional, cross-channel strategies.
The truth is that vendor selection has historically led the data-driven marketing discussion in the industry. However, that is beginning to change. Now more than ever before, proactive restaurant marketers are creating enterprise data strategies.
Before vendor selection begins, brands are mapping cross channel integrated consumer experiences with buy-in from all C-level executives. Vendor selection does not matter. Strategy matters. Starting matters. The vendor selection process should not overshadow the more important strategic discussion of the use cases for data-driven marketing.
There Must Be a Better Way.
Data-driven Marketing is a strategy, not a program, that requires CEO/CFO sponsorship because it is a cross departmental effort with cross channel execution. It relies on effective data capture through adoption of technologies that enhance the guest experience. Data enables guest segmentation for marketers to execute always-on one-to-one marketing. It can be automated. And it will transform restaurant marketing forever.