A Night Out with Restaurant Executives, a Waterfall Sponsored Dinner & Cocktail Reception in Atlanta

A Night Out with Restaurant Executives, a Waterfall Sponsored Dinner & Cocktail Reception in Atlanta

We recently had the pleasure of hosting, along with Rob Crews, a former restaurant CMO, an intimate networking dinner and cocktail reception for restaurant industry executives in Atlanta. The dinner was made possible by Waterfall, a leading mobile messaging solution provider, and Mblox, a global messaging and aggregation services provider.

The purpose of the dinner was to bring restaurant marketing executives, complimentary food service companies, and MarTech providers together to discuss the role of digital marketing, including messaging, within a restaurant’s marketing mix. 

Throughout the evening new relationships were formed, food was enjoyed and an interactive discussion around digital was had. Three key themes emerged during the evening, 1) looking beyond media, 2) developing and managing locally relevant content, and 3) managing the complexity of modern-day communications.

1. Looking beyond media

Rob Crews opened up the evening with a discussion on how digital is fundamentally transforming consumer behavior. This transformation is necessitating that restaurant executives reevaluate their marketing spend and start considering how to strategically interlace digital throughout their marketing efforts.  Rob explained how the cost of mass media to reach today’s digitally savvy consumer is rising faster than most restaurant’s growth. Consequently, restaurants are becoming less media efficient. The group had a really engaging, in-depth conversation around this topic.

 2. Developing and managing locally relevant content

During the evening, an executive from a leading restaurant with hundreds of locations throughout the world discussed many challenges his brand faces and how they are able to overcome them.

In particular, one of the main challenges they face is managing the processes for ensuring each restaurant around world has locally relevant content. 

While the actual product does not vary drastically from city to city, the method of promoting it does. He noted how it is very important to stay relevant to people by regularly publishing  locally relevant promotional content on media channels such as TV, billboard advertisements, and social media platforms. 

The brand leaves this job in the hands of the local manager of each restaurant. This requires a large degree of trust between the headquarters and the local restaurant as one restaurant can easily jeopardize the entire brand’s reputation with one poorly worded tweet or promotion.

So how does the brand’s headquarters and the franchise stay coordinated? It starts with the headquarters’ strategy; their allocation of the appropriate technology, and education of the restaurant’s franchise owners on the available content and tools they can use to effectively serve their customers locally.

Each local manager joins a monthly conference call where they discuss the do’s and don’ts of the promotional content as well as how to use their promotional tools. While there is no sure-fire way to guarantee that these mistakes never occur, this method has proved successful for this particular franchise this far.

He also noted that another huge factor of their success is partnering with experts to ensure that they achieve meaningful reach with their marketing.

Solutions like Waterfall and their strategic partner, Mblox, make the type of reach he was talking about possible. Waterfall takes the complexity out of producing direct communication campaigns that both amaze and delight people. They handle all the technology so that the restaurant marketers, even at the local franchise level, have a simple tool to acquire new customers and keep current customer engaged satisfied. 

 3. Managing the complexity of modern-day communications

As for the final theme, a former marketing leader at Coca-Cola explained how the Internationally recognized brand maintains its status as a thought leader across the world. He exclaimed that when you become that big, in this case, an 80-billion-dollar company, internal communications become much more challenging. 

Communication becomes more difficult as a brand grows. What might be the decision of one person in a small company, becomes the collective decision of many in a big company, like Coca-Cola. Discussion within the brand between employees is just as important, if not more, than the conversation being had with consumers. Employees use text messaging not just for conversation with customers, but across every stage of operation. Companies like Waterfall help with managing internal as well external communications.

The consensus of those in attendance was that digital is playing an increasingly larger role in a restaurant’s ability to drive foot traffic and engage new and existing customers, not just in aggregate but on an individual by individual basis.

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Michael Becker is an intentionally recognized identity & personal information management solutions strategic advisor, speaker, entrepreneur, and academic. He advises companies on personal information economy business strategy, product development, business development, and sales & marketing strategies. He also represents them at leading trade groups, including the Mobile Ecosystem Forum. Michael is an advisor to Assurant, Predii, Privowny, and Phoji. He is the co-author of Mobile Marketing for Dummies and a number of other books and articles related to mobile marketing, identity, and personal information management. He is on the faculty of marketing of the Association of National Advertisers and National University. A serial entrepreneur, Michael founded Identity Praxis, co-founded mCordis and The Connected Marketer Institute, was a founding member of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and was on the MMA board of directors for ten years and was MMA’s North American Managing Director for three years. In 2004, Michael co-founded iLoop Mobile, a leading messaging solutions provider. In 2014, Michael was awarded the 2014 Marketing EDGE Edward Mayer Education Leadership Award for his commitment to marketing education.


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