Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Marketing
marketing insights: New Year’s unresolutions


As the calendar turns to a brand new year, we traditionally make our list of resolutions. Before we go too far adding more items to our to-do list, why not consider the flip side of the equation? What are those things that we should stop ourselves from doing? The world is changing so rapidly that it makes sense to have a sanity check now and then. What are those habits or tendencies that won’t serve us well going forward? What should we resolve to avoid doing?

As the calendar turns to a brand new year, we traditionally make our
list of resolutions. Before we go too far adding more items to our
to-do list, why not consider the flip side of the equation? What are
those things that we should stop ourselves from doing? The world is
changing so rapidly that it makes sense to have a sanity check now and
then. What are those habits or tendencies that won’t serve us well
going forward? What should we resolve to avoid doing?


Don’t ignore the go-local trend
Canadians are feeling pretty passionate about eating and drinking
local. This trend is driven by several factors, meaning it likely has
legs and will be a long-term shift. Factors making this trend ripe for
the targeting include health concerns, a desire to support local
businesses (either provincial or national) and concerns about the
environmental impact of transporting ingredients from afar. For
instance, VQA wines have grown by double digits in sales this year so
if you have a wine list, be make sure to include some Canadian wines.
Develop menu items with local ingredients and promote it aggressively.
If you are a local business yourself, be sure to play that card in your
advertising.


Don’t put off revamping your staff training
During a recession, businesses typically cut back on staff. Canadians
have been waiting much longer to be served and have many times
interacted with front line workers who are overworked, exhausted and
poorly trained. Take this opportunity to make sure that your teams have
stellar product knowledge, mentoring and a chance to role-play some
up-selling techniques. You may just discover that if you move the
needle up just a bit on the service excellence, customers will respond
emphatically because other businesses are still just trying to keep up.

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Don’t cut your marketing budget
Marketing is the process of solving consumer problems profitably. Have
you noticed that your monthly credit card bills no longer come with 50
different inserts selling other financial products? Big companies have
cut their marketing budgets so there are fewer ads, billboards, and
direct mail pieces in our mailboxes. This is a great time to go where
others have left a void. A smartly designed flyer promoting that new
“local pizza” will now have a better chance of getting noticed. By this
time next year it’s likely the marketers at big companies will be back
in full swing again so act now while things are still quiet.


Don’t ignore customer input
Marketing used to be somewhat of a one-way conversation. Businesses
would build brands, sell them and consumers provided very little input
or feedback. The Internet has changed all of that. Consumers are
talking back big time. Peer-to-peer reviews of products is one of the
most effective marketing tools available to businesses today. Amazon
does it with its customer reviews and Business Week estimates that in
the 15 years that Amazon has allowed customers to post its product
reviews, more than five million consumers have posted tens of millions
of reviews on Amazon.com. By amassing one of the world’s largest
collections of consumer opinions, the site has become a leading source
of product reviews. These reviews serve other purposes. They are lures
which entice more consumers to the Amazon site. “You increasingly look
at Amazon for reviews,” says Sebastian Thomas, head of U.S. Technology
Research at RCM Capital as quoted in Business Week. “It will be hard
for someone else to build that scale.” If you have a website, consider
having a place for consumers to review their meals. If you don’t, make
sure you provide a feedback form along with the bill. 


Don’t assume that if you build it, they will come
Technology has turned the rules of retailing on their head. Consumers
now gather in clusters on sites like Facebook and Twitter. They
download cool applications for their smartphones. Some of these
applications are mind blowing. Pizza Hut launched an application for
the iPhone this year called The Pizza Hut iPhone App. It not only
allows customers to order a pizza, it also boasts a virtual fridge loaded with coupons
to add to your order and a free game called Pizza Hut Racer that you
can play while waiting for your food to arrive. Just in case you think
this type of gizmo only appeals to a small niche market, consider the
metrics. Downloads of the application topped 100,000 within the first
two weeks of its launch. We need to start going to the customers where
they’re gathering and listening. Otherwise, we’ll end up talking to
ourselves.

If you look at this not-to-do list closely, there’s a consistent theme
afoot. It’s all about getting closer to the customer so we can give
them exactly what they want. Don’t let anything get between you and the
people who really pay the bills. Now that’s a resolution worth keeping.


Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the
food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She
specializes in retail brand strategies.


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