Recipe for Success

For the past nine weeks we’ve taken a look at how technology and new media can enhance and expand marketing opportunities for companies and organizations. Still, as mentioned early on, these are just new takes on old themes, different tools in the box, etc.

What really makes marketing work is a good foundation and good plan. In a way it is a lot like a bread recipe, which requires certain ingredients and things to happen in order to produce an edible product. That brings us to an article that appeared recently in TIME magazine talking about Panera in the midst of the recession and how it has managed to continue to be successful. After reading the article there are several lessons to be learned that can be applied to marketing and expanded to include new media.

1. “The key to Panera’s success lies in what the company hasn’t done,” says Nicole Miller Regan, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. “Panera hasn’t fallen victim to discounting. It hasn’t levered up the balance sheet. It hasn’t tried to change.”

Now change is good and is happening at a rapid pace. But as the article points out, much like Daniel Craig’s character in the movie “Layer Cake” one should “have a plan and stick to it.” Having a solid foundation that can be augmented by new technologies and media is a good way to go.

2. “Unemployment went from 5% to 10%. There’s 90% of society that is still employed. I couldn’t capture all those people that are unemployed. They weren’t eating out at all. All I could do was stay focused on who my target customer was, and not be reactive.”

3. “To consumers, Panera isn’t just a refueling stop,” says Derrington. “It’s a treat, and you don’t have to pay a ton of money for that experience.” For about $6, you can get half a sandwich, soup or salad, and a drink.

4. “This is the time to grow. Real estate costs are down, development costs are down, volumes are up — these are the highest-return investment stores we’ll ever generate.” Panera has hired 20,000 new workers, rolled out new menu items, and improved the lettuce quality in its salads. Salad sales are up 30%.

5. “I worry about keeping the concept special,” says [Panera Bread CEO Ron] Shaich. “Is it worth walking across the street to? It doesn’t matter how cheap it is. If it isn’t special, there’s no reason the business needs to exist.”
This is perhaps the most important lesson in the article and it also has some very real implications in terms of marketing. The product has to be something special. It can be dressed up with all kinds of promotions, flashy advertisements, online games and other gimmicks, but without a good product, good plan and good vision, the most creative marketing campaign in the world isn’t going to save it once people try it. Of course if the ingredients are right, the oven is the right temperature and you keep an eye on the dough as it rises, you’ll end up with something worth eating.

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