Building brand awareness
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You’ve been talking a lot about brand awareness lately. How does that factor in to your growth plans?
We’ve been very active in social media strategies from day one, along with PR and local marketing strategies. About 18 months ago, we started getting more actively involved in more broad-based strategies, particularly radio, which has been very successful for us. We’re probably in 20 to 25 markets right now where we’re using radio very effectively.
We’re now in four or five markets testing TV. We’re only in our fourth week, so it’s very early on, but what’s clear is that building our brand awareness, and kind of turning the lights on for consumers about what Smashburger is, has been valuable. Both radio and early TV results are very encouraging in that regard. The basic messaging is: smashing makes a better burger. And the spots are all very brand-building, awareness-building spots, and not promotional in nature.
On the low end we’re probably seeing 5- to 6-percent lifts, and on the high end, 8- to-10-percent-plus in terms of results. So we’re really pleased so far, and we’re going to keep working it.
Will you do more in the way of TV advertising going forward?
We’re definitely investing ahead of the curve. I don’t know that anyone can afford TV at our size. What we’re doing is, instead of doing something nationally at a half-baked level, we’re picking two or three markets where we’re going to over-invest to see what those results will be. We’ll keep working in those markets and trying various media buying strategies, awareness strategies and daypart strategies until we really get it right. It will be a tool available to us in a lot of markets over the next couple years.
What’s new on the menu?
This year has been about localization. We’re offering craft beer and burger pairings in about 10 markets at this point, so by the end of the year, we’ll be offering local beer pairings in each of our major markets. That’s playing very, very well.
On the burger side, awareness has focused on the classic burger and what makes smashing better. But a lot has also been around chicken.
We’ve got a big chicken platform, and we’ve been marketing through our loyalty club, and the e-club in stores, our range of chicken products. We’ve probably moved our mix up 5-6 points.