Posts tagged marketing consulting

Restaurant & Franchise Branding Consultant, Ellish Marketing Group, Completes Brand Positioning Work for Umami Burger®

Umami Burger logo

Umami Restaruant Group, operator of Umami Burger selected Ellish Marketing Group, international restaurant and franchise consultants, to work with the management leadership team to define the Umami brand positioning and brand architecture.

Using the Ellish Marketing Group methodology, the management leadership team participated in a multi-day brand discovery to see best competitive brands and other hot on trend restaurant concepts followed by a one-day proprietary Brand Positioning Session led by Warren Ellish, Ellish Marketing Groups CEO and President.

Ellish Marketing Group is also conducting menu engineering work and consumer research for Umami Burger.

The development of a pre-emptive, ownable and defendable brand positioning for Umami Burger was a priority project for new CEO Paul Clayton.  The end result of the brand positioning work from Ellish Marketing Group is a more focused and more competitive burger brand.

Marketing Executive One-On-One Coaching: An MBA Student’s Perspective

 The two-day coaching annual Marketing Executive Coaching Program held at the Johnson School at Cornell University inspired Sydney Chernish, MBA ’16, to surround herself with smart, like-minded people who will push her to excellence. The below article was written by Sydney Cherish, MBA ’16, a first year Johnson marketing MBA student, who participated in the 8th Annual Marketing Executive Coaching Program and was published on the Johnson Cornell University web site.

After finishing two weeks that were jam-packed with Battle of the Brands, midterms and corporate briefings, participating in the Marketing Executive One-on-One Coaching program was a welcome break from our usual madness. This annual mentoring program, hosted by Warren Ellish ’77, MBA ’78, visiting senior lecturer of marketing and president and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group, brings top marketing executives back to campus to mentor Johnson MBAs focused on marketing. The opportunity to interact with leading marketing executives as well as the break in routine enabled us to take a step back and reflect on the bigger picture of why we’re here at business school.

I knew I would have the opportunity to interact with accomplished, executive-level marketers by participating in the Marketing Executive One-on-One Coaching. What I did not anticipate was how incredibly kind and invested these executives would be in our personal development and future success. For two days, 36 executives took time out of their careers (or retirement in a few cases) to come to Ithaca to participate in panel discussions, one-on-one coaching sessions, Q&A forums, and, of course, lots of good food and conversation.

I was scheduled to have individual conversations with three executives. We spent those hours chatting about their past experiences, some of their favorite projects, what they value in an employee, and what they think makes a good marketer. During this time, each one also strove to understand my career aspirations and what was important to my personal development. Based on our conversations, they each gave me advice on my career as well as how to craft my story. Each of the executives brought unique backgrounds, experiences, and points of view to our exchanges, but one common theme surfaced throughout all of our conversations: each executive stressed the importance of finding the right company fit. They credited their career successes to finding a culture where they could thrive and grow.

The importance of culture was not a new concept to me; fit and culture were two of my main criteria in choosing which business school to attend, and why I ultimately chose to come to Johnson. However, as we’ve all become increasingly stressed out about finding a summer internship, I’ve noticed a tendency to broaden my search criteria in order to be sure I would have something rather than the right thing for me. The executives’ echoes about fit were a welcome reminder at the right time; I recommitted to putting fit as a top criteria for my job selection. I want to surround myself with smart, like-minded people who will push me to excellence, while building a network that will last for the rest of my life.

Next year, I will encourage each and every MBA student focused on marketing to take advantage of this unique and empowering program. I hope that they will also have the opportunity to step back from the busy life of the core to gain some much-needed perspective and to enjoy the talented executives who comes to campus to participate in the Marketing Executive One-on-One Coaching program.

Warren Ellish, CEO of Ellish Marketing Group and Cornell Johnson School Senior Lecturer Hosted the 8th Annual Marketing Executive Coaching Program

Cornell Marketing Executive Coaching ProgramOn November 6 and 7, 2014, 98 students and 36 of the most distinguished marketing executives came together for the eighth annual Marketing Executive One-On-One Coaching Program. Hosted by F. Warren Ellish, visiting senior lecturer of marketing and president and CEO of Ellish Marketing Group, the program gives marketing students at Johnson at Cornell University opportunities to network with and be mentored by leading executives in the marketing world. Coaches comprise chief marketing officers, CEOs, executive recruiters, brand consultants, and advertising executives.

The event kicked off on Thursday, November 6, with a roundtable discussion, titled “The Role of Marketing Innovation.” Panelists include Jim Goldman, former President and CEO of Godiva Chocolatier; Pat Lafferty, CEO of the creative agency BBH North America; and Vithala Rao, Deane W. Malott Professor of Management and professor of marketing at Johnson.

The panel was followed by an evening reception, at which host F. Warren Ellish shared with students the importance of networking and the truly small nature of the marketing world. Each executive was introduced, not by career background, but by the connections they have with colleagues in the room. These connections included college classmates, associates, bosses, mentors, clients, and significant others.

The program resumed on Friday, November 7, with 180 individual one-on-one mentoring sessions, by 36 executives, with 98 students.  Of the 36 executive coaches, 24 were Cornell University alumni. The event concluded with a luncheon, sponsored by the student-run Marketing Association, where students may network and pose final questions to their executive coaches.

“The one-on-one format offers students a chance to ask experienced experts questions they might be reluctant to ask in a less personal setting,” said Cynthia Saunders-Cheatham, executive director of Johnson’s Career Management Center(CMC). “Students have the opportunity to gain mentors who continue to help them with suggestions, contacts, and leads though out their careers.”


Facebook Bans “Like-Gated” Promotions, and Restaurant and Franchise Marketers May Not “Like It”

In a significant change from its existing policy, effective November 5, 2014, Facebook will no longer permit the common social media advertising tool of “like-gated” promotions. “Like-gating” requires that consumers “like” a brand’s Facebook page to enter a contest or sweepstakes, to gain access to a deal or a coupon code, to obtain early access to merchandise, to download or view app content, or to get other savings.

In Summary: “Like-gated” Facebook promotions had their run, but their time has passed for a few compelling reasons. The Facebook policy change is another reminder that restaurant and franchise companies should know a social media platform’s terms and conditions – and should be aware of changes to those rules – before running a social media promotion.

What Will Change
Facebook’s announcement, in its Platform Policies, was quite straightforward. It stated, “Effective November 5th, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s Page [(the brand’s Facebook page)].” In a blog post, Facebook explained the development in somewhat more detail:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

Facebook’s Rationale
Facebook’s personnel have indicated in interviews that incentivized likes are poor indicators of consumer engagement and bad for user experience on the platform. Given that the Facebook display algorithm has already deprioritized likes in favor of engagement, this change should not surprise marketers, and may actually lead to better return on investment (ROI) on Facebook advertising, and increases in engagement among “likers” of brands’ Facebook pages.

What the Change Means
As a practical matter, like-gated promotions that commence or extend beyond November 4th must comply with the new Facebook policy.

There is much, however, that the new policy does not change. Thus, marketers still can use:

  • Apps;
  • App logins (note that any information retrieved via an app should be relevant to the reason for using the app, and that Facebook is implementing a “login review” that verifies whether any information beyond the basic categories of public profile, friends list and email address is appropriate);
  • Check-ins (in which an advertiser informs a Facebook user that the user “checked in” at a particular place and is entitled to a particular benefit); and
  • Page contests, and can publicize promotions on a Facebook page.

Moreover, marketers can continue to request that people “like” a page – only like-gating has been barred.

The policy change is likely to accelerate the change from like-gating to “action-gating” (where users must take some specific action before entering a Facebook contest), though marketers should still be careful to comply with Facebook’s existing usage guidelines.  Nonetheless, action-gating should lead to increased consumer engagement, and marketers using the proper login techniques can gather email addresses of consumers and additional feedback via engagement. Campaigns may become more unified, with social media, email, and other efforts bringing consumers to one page where they can enter the contest or promotion.  The number of entrants may be lower than with like-gating, but the quality of the entrants may be higher.  Of course, to the extent that companies simply want more “likes,” marketers will have to rely on methods other than “like-gating” to obtain them.

The early bird special – not just for frugal retirees

Restaruants should take another look at the early bird special.  It just might be another tactical move to please customers and increase traffic and sales.


Daily Record, Nina Rizzo, 9/24/14

The early bird special isn’t just for frugal retirees who don’t like to drive in the dark. Count the millennials among those looking for dining deals at off-peak hours.

Add families who want to feed their children a sensible meal before a weeknight sports practice. And young professionals who come straight from the office.

There is a broad range of consumers looking to stretch their dining dollars when restaurants are less busy.

“There is a great deal of pent-up demand from consumers looking to dine out,” Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, wrote in an email. “Our research shows that more than seven out of 10 adults say they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Restaurateurs can capitalize on this demand by lowering menu prices using special promotions during slower times to drive foot traffic.”

Many restaurants have embraced the early dining discount. The association found, in a 2013 restaurant trends survey, that a quarter of family- and casual-dining operators and 36 percent of fine-dining establishments offered off-peak dining at reduced prices. A majority of restaurant owners believe this trend will become more popular in the future.

The early bird revival was perhaps most noticeable a few years ago in states like Florida, where the real estate crash reverberated throughout the economy and forced people of all ages to rethink the notion of eating a steak at 4:30 in the afternoon.

The seniors-only stigma apparently has faded. According to the nationwide survey, 72 percent of adults said they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. Some 80 percent of those who frequently eat at fast food and fast casual places, like Smash Burger or Chipotle, said they would take advantage of early-bird deals, too.

Eliminating a signature brand experience can present a branding problem

Behind the Wheel: Fast-casual sandwich chain Which Wich adapts to drive-thru operation.

Once a hallmark of classic fast-food joints, the drive-thru operation is getting a fast casual–style facelift thanks to chains like Dallas-based Which Wich. The customizable sandwich concept opened its second drive-thru unit this summer in Crystal Lake, Illinois, to offer more convenience, says Jeremy Cook, senior vice president of real estate and construction.

For a franchise that creates menu items to order, fulfilling drive-thru orders quickly is a big challenge, Cook says. While guests mark their choices on the brand’s signature brown paper bags inside the store, a cashier verbally guides customers through step-by-step ordering at the drive-thru window. Based on the performance of the brand’s first drive-thru location in Marble Falls, Texas, wait times average 5–7 minutes, and the system is working well, Cook says.

The brand’s initiative is the latest step of a growing trend in the industry, says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of consulting firm Technomic Inc. It follows drive-thru retrofits at a small number of locations by Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, and Einstein Bros. Bagels, he says.

“Brands are looking at how to steal share from competitors,” Tristano says, and drive thrus offer a sales boost by appealing to customers like parents with small children.

However, eliminating a signature brand experience like Which Wich’s paper bag ordering process can present a branding problem, says Warren Ellish, restaurant consultant and president of Ellish Marketing Group. “Their drive thru may boost sales in the short-term, but in the end, they could lose sales by diluting the brand,” Ellish says. “People who don’t know the brand will lose the unique ordering experience.”

Although Which Wich’s high-quality ingredients are an important draw, it’s the ordering system that makes the brand unique, he adds. It may be better for the chain to try to replicate their ordering protocol by providing paper bags and markers for drive-thru customers, or offering a smartphone app, Ellish says.

The Which Wich team expects to make refinements to its drive-thru operation as it offers the platform to more franchisees, but early indicators are positive, Cook says. “It’s like anything else,” he says. “You want to continue to get better and try to perfect the process.”

Restaurant & Franchise Branding Expert Weighs in on Wendy’s: Embrace Change – But Don’t Try To Be Everything To Everyone In Hopes Of Broadening Your Customer Reach

Soccer Shots, the #1Children’s Fitness Franchise Program, Undergoes Brand Positioning Work with Ellish Marketing Group

Soccer Shots BrandingSoccer Shots, The Children’s Soccer Experience and the #1 Children’s Fitness Franchise Program, selected Ellish Marketing Group (the leading franchise and restaurant branding consultants) to work with their management leadership team, Franchise Presidents Council and Franchise Brand Strategy team to develop a strategically focused brand positioning for the brand.  The end result of the work undertaken will be laser focused brand positioning and complete alignment behind the branding by management and the franchise system.


Soccer Shots Brand PositioningThe new brand positioning was unveiled during the 2014 national franchise convention in Chicago.

Restaurant & Franchise Branding Consultant, Ellish Marketing Group, Completes Brand Positioning Work for Regional Pizza Chain Blackjack Pizza®

Askar Brands operator of multiple quick service and casual dining restaurants across the nation including Papa Romano’s, Papa’s Pizza To-Go, Breadeaux Pizza, Blackjack Pizza, Mr. Pita, Stucchi’s Ice Cream, CJ’s Brewing Company and Big Al’s Sports Grill, selected Ellish Marketing Group, international restaurant and franchise consultants, to work with the management team and franchise leadership team of Blackjack Pizza to define the brands brand positioning.

Askar Brands provides word class support to all of their brands by providing management, marketing, training and operations materials to allow their franchisees to focus on their execution and customer retention.  The development of a pre-emptive, ownable and defendable brand positioning for Blackjack is consistent with their philosophy.  The end result of the brand positioning work from Ellish Marketing Group will be a more focused and more competitive pizza brand.

Warren Ellish to Address IFA 2014 Emerging Franchisor Conference

Warren Ellish Franchise and Restaurant SpeakerWarren Ellish, President & CEO of Ellish Marketing Group and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management will be the opening speaker at the International Franchise Association 2014 Emerging Franchisor Conference. The convention will be held on November 18, 2014  in Dallas, Texas at the Sheraton Hotel.  Warren will address “The Three Critical Steps to Positioning Your Emerging Franchise Into a World-Class Brand.”

The IFA Emerging Franchisor Conference is designed for franchise operations executives, CEOs, COOs, Presidents, franchise development executives, franchise marketing experts, franchise relations specialists and anyone responsible for the growth and efficient operation of their franchise system. The conference is specifically designed to address challenges and opportunities unique to franchise systems who are looking to grow. This is a prime networking and educational conference for franchisors that are ready to take their systemInternational Franchise Association to the next level. This program will feature franchise leaders sharing what they learned when they were trying to build their brand. Attendees will hear motivational stories, expert tips and proven strategies that helped them attract new franchisees, build brand recognition and a loyal customer base, increase productivity while streamlining operations. Simply put, this is a must-attend event!

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