Restaurants Rise: How marketing is changing in a post-COVID-19 world

This article is shared courtesy of NRN.com and can be found at the following link: https://www.nrn.com/marketing/restaurants-rise-how-marketing-changing-post-covid-19-world

Written by Joanna Fantozzi – June 8′ 2020

As consumer confidence and priorities change, so should restaurant strategies. What might have worked as an on-brand marketing message before the pandemic hit could be tone-deaf or miss the mark in what has become a changed industry.

On day four of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality’s Restaurants Rise digital summit, Chris Hollander, chief marketing officer of Panera Bread, and Gje Greene-Wallace, director of marketing for 20-unit, Texas-based seafood chain Fish City Grill and sister concept Half Shells, spoke about how their marketing and communications strategies shifted over the past couple of months to prioritize building human connections as well as safety policies.

Here’s what we learned from the “Marketing Matters: How to reach guests the right way in a changed world” session on June 5, sponsored by SevenRooms and moderated by Nation’s Restaurant News executive editor Lisa Jennings.

Learn to be flexible

Two weeks before the pandemic began in earnest across the United States, Panera Bread launched what was supposed to be a revolutionary coffee subscription program. But they had to pivot quickly when it became clear that to-go coffee was the last thing on consumers’ minds.

“We had an ad ready to go featuring hordes of people descending on a Panera Cafe and we paused that and instead focused more on reminding people how they can still enjoy Panera with new experiences,” Hollander said.

 

Stand out from a sea of sameness

It’s very easy to get caught up in trying the same strategies that everyone else is doing both during the pandemic and as everything is beginning to calm down, but the best marketing strategy is about standing out while also appealing to what the consumer wants.

But the focus on safety will remain a piece of the brand’s messaging going forward, Hollander said.

Visibility of safety and sanitation policies is vital

It’s not enough to simply tell customers what you’re doing to keep them safe and healthy: You have to show them as well.

“Up until now, no one wanted to know what was happening behind the curtain,” Greene-Wallace said. “Our team members were good about washing our hands, but now we put in a dining room timer that goes off every 20 minutes and everyone stops what they’re doing to wash their hands. Customers can see what’s happening live.”

Greene-Wallace also said that they have hired a team member dedicated entirely to cleaning and sanitation, and as a result, customers will always see someone wiping down counters and sanitizing other surfaces.

 

Value personal connection

One of the most important aspects of their new marketing strategy, Greene-Wallace realized, was how much her customers missed personal interactions. So they decided to make their team members a large part of their messaging.

“People were starving for connection and missing their family and friends, so we took a new step and stopped trying to sell the same experience as always,” Greene-Wallace, left, said. “We featured team members in our social media posts and marketing materials so they can see faces of the people they remember seeing holding signs like ‘we miss you’ and ‘stay strong.’”

Listen to what the customer wants

An important part of being flexible in the age of coronavirus is listening to what the customer wants because it may be different than you expect. Although Panera Bread began offering groceries as part of their emergency plan during the peak of the pandemic, that availability might continue as long as customer demand remains high.

At Fish City Grill, the plan is to continue offering the popular family meal packs even as dining rooms reopen, although certain features of their coronavirus-era business plan, like in-house delivery, will be phased out if they are not worth the cost.

“The playbook is totally different today,” Greene-Wallace said. “People are responding well today to what might have been over-messaging a few years ago.”

 

 

 

Your Recruitment Coach: An Interview is Really an Audition!

Back

What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • I would like to personally thank Ken for all his help in helping me to find a job. On June 1st I was released from my job of 11 years. I was unsure of what my next steps would be. I haven't been through an interview in years and I felt like I was unprepared. Ken took the time to help me step by step. He first gathered all my personal information and work history. He built a resume from all of that information and articulated my accomplishments in a way I never could have. He sent me tips on what to wear, questions to ask, and called after my interviews to see how it went. He gave me support and encouragement when I was at my absolute lowest. I couldn't have asked for a better recruiter! Thank you again Ken! Thanks, Again, KenGeneral Manager, Logan's Road House, Chattanooga TN
  • Ken Schreifels was a great help during the whole process from start to finish. He was with me every step of the way with tips and words of encouragement. If I had any questions or concerns, no matter what time of day it was, he was there to answer it. I would recommend Ken to anyone. Thank you, William  I Would Recommend Ken to Anyone Looking for a New JobGeneral Manager, Fuddruckers, New Jersey
  • David Israel was a pleasure to work with and was instrumental in helping me find an excellent career opportunity .

    David was extremely professional and took the time to really listen to where I was in my career and what I was looking for. As a result of the work he did to connect me with the right opportunity, I was able to obtain a great starting salary and great benefits as well. I would highly recommend David’s services to both job seekers and employers. Josh Axmacher David Israel was a pleasure to work with!
  • Tim was nothing but helpful from the start!

    I was originally contacted by Tim as a reference for someone who used to work for me. He must have recognized that I myself was a good fit, because within a few minutes the conversation turned to me applying for the job.  He was always pushing for me. He was there to help with everything, every step of the way, and was in constant communication. He played a massive role in me landing an amazing job with an even better company. I can't stress enough how awesome this guy was. Tim will coach you through the entire process and be your biggest advocate. He has a lifetime of experience and knows exactly what companies are looking for. A+, 10/10, two thumbs up, 5-stars. Thanks for everything Tim! Brock Kinley Tim was nothing but helpful from the start
  • Tim was very patient and thorough when going through the process of trying to find employment for me and my skills. I appreciate the time and effort he put in for me and I would recommend Tim Walker & Patrice and Associates to anyone looking for great opportunities. Carolyn Floyd Tim was very patient & thorough!