(Continued from page 1)

To celebrate its 21st anniversary, Coralville, Iowa-based Pancheros invited its biggest fans to “generate content for us and with us, so we could celebrate with the people who brought us to 21 [years in operation],” said director of marketing Reid Travis.

For its “How to Turn 21” video series, the 65-unit chain visited bars and local watering holes near its locations to interview brand fans, some of whom — actually, all of whom — were in various states of inebriation, about how best to celebrate reaching legal drinking age.

Pancheros produced 10 videos in all for its Facebook page and YouTube channel. The shorts featured the “Leading Consultant” character, a hapless introvert ill-suited to interviewing drunk people, who nonetheless asks real people to recount their memories of their 21st birthdays. Compared with typical Facebook posts for Pancheros, the videos tended to receive more engagement as measured by the numbers of likes, comments and shares from brand fans.

“Content marketing is big right now, and it’s important to entertain audiences,” Travis said. “Our followers, wherever they might be, are following us for a reason, and we’d like to give them a better reason. We’re trying to say, ‘We’ll make it worth your time to let us into your Facebook feed.’”

As with Pal’s digital-branding promotion, the initiative for Pancheros was not tied to the sale of a product or to traffic for a short promotional window, so the return on investment was not quantifiable for the “How to Turn 21” series. Instead, Pancheros treated the digital-branding strategy as part of its larger marketing plans, which in aggregate have contributed to a positive year for the business, Travis said.

The mix of traditional media like TV and radio varies from market to market for Pancheros, but some amount of those platforms always works to support the systemwide branding effort the chain makes in digital marketing, Travis said.

“There’s not a firm correlation or causation, but we believe that with a balanced marketing mix, they’ll build off each other,” Travis said. “The videos alone won’t drive traffic, but coupled with other things, we get one more area where people interact with us as a brand.”

He added, without divulging specifics, that Pancheros’ average unit volumes have been climbing steadily this year and that “a handful more” of restaurant openings are planned for February and March. Travis could not attribute the sales and unit growth to any one promotion or initiative, but he reiterated that a properly allocated marketing budget was crucial to the brand’s success.

“You have to be timely, with a relevant message,” he said. “We take a strong look at who our customers are, and what they like, and we act accordingly.”

Pancheros operates in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN