About You in 100 words

I started my career as a ‘runner’ in an ad agency and worked my way through the creative department into account management. I have experienced across a wide range of marketing disciplines for business and consumer brands. I ran my own award-winning marketing consultancy for 20 years and in 2010 I had an opportunity to live and work in the USA. When I returned, Wendy Bartlett, a client for 15 years, asked me to join bartlett mitchell. How could I refuse an offer to market great people and fabulous food?

Marketing Today

How do you think marketing has changed in recent years?

Digital media has had a huge impact on the Marketing industry. I love the fact that digital marketing is measurable. I look at our stats all the time – website visitors, how many clicks on an e-mail, who’s checking us out on Linkedin, who’s reading what and when, and that would have been impossible a few years ago. I can tweak things and see instantly what difference it makes. Our blog is a good example of how we use digital marketing to reach our corporate customers. We have created highly relevant content that engages with our audience, is commented on, and forwarded to colleagues.

What do you think the role of traditional media is in todays marketing world?

It’s not about one versus the other, digital and traditional marketing blend with each other. You must select the most effective tools in the marketing mix to reach and engage customers and you can leverage one off the other. Traditional media reach far and wide but then using digital tools helps you focus on specific customer groups.

For example, at bartlett mitchell, an exciting and live theatre event in the staff café is advertised using posters, invitations and email. Customers film the event on their mobiles and we ask them to submit their user-generated content. From this we create a series of videos that go viral and we also ask them to opt-in for mobile or email communications and follow us on Facebook. Now they receive our weekly café newsletter too.

Marketing a healthier lifestyle

How do you feel the contract catering industry can responsibly and profitable market healthy eating?

The principle is always the same regardless of the topic; give customers content they want and reflect their interests, concerns and pain points. All the evidence suggests that customers want to know more about what they are eating, where it comes from and what’s in it. Contract caterers can respond to this using ‘info-tainment’. Part information, part entertainment, and a warm and friendly tone of voice, authoritative information and without preaching. As part of our Delicious And Responsible Eating – DARE – programme, our nutritionist Penny writes an online blog for our customers, which includes a hot topic of the week and a Q&A session.

Social Media Insight

On 4th Feb it will be 10 years since Facebook launched. You use Facebook to market bartlett mitchell, why do you use Facebook in this way? 

Facebook is a great way to engage customers and our teams; chefs love sharing photos of their food; both the preparation and the final dish. Any why shouldn’t they? If I was proud of something I had made, I would want to share it. Being controversial, I’d be a bit dubious about a chef who didn’t want to share their photos, and regardless of a chef’s sensitivities, your customer will always share.

There has been lots of chatter and debate as to whether Facebook is in decline, especially with the younger market – what is your take on this?

Facebook’s stats show that younger people are using Facebook less and using messaging apps like ‘wechat’ a lot more. These apps appear to provide a more personal experience and without all the advertising. We are not experiencing a decline, but our audience isn’t the younger market, however I will be keeping a close eye on developments and the level of engagement we achieve.

If one network was to replace Facebook, which one do you think it would be? And why?

That’s a tricky one, there are the newer messaging apps like wechat but sticking my neck out I am going for YouTube. With the power and might of Google behind it combined with Google+, Gmail and blogger accounts, it’s a formidable force and they are continually investing in new technology. We find YouTube an excellent way of engaging with our customers, both B2B and B2C. We all have a limited attention span and most consumers are visual learners, so images grab attention. Come back in 5 years and tell me I picked the Betamax of the social media world!

#FoodPorn

http://www.slideshare.net/karenfewell/the-psychology-of-sharing-food-via-social-networks – Take a look at this for background info. What do you think food image sharing can achieve for food businesses?

Today people like having a way to share their life. My ethos is ‘give customers a reason to share your brand’. Tap into this, cook and present great food, deliver outstanding customer service in an inspiring environment and customers will tell you what they think and share it with their community. This builds brand awareness, market share and sales.

Do you think chefs are the social media stars of the hospitality industry?

Chefs have the potential to be the stars of the hospitality industry. Social media is not about selling; it’s a big conversation. Chefs are best placed to lead this because customers and their peers want authentic, real conversations.

Predictions

How do you predict the mobile phone will impact our choices of what, where and when to eat?

The pervasive mobile phone is a key element of the customer experience and will influence where and what we eat but the evidence suggests contract caterers shouldn’t rush to develop expensive apps. Customers aren’t using mobile to make significant purchases yet, we should though develop adaptive websites for all devices that allow customers to read menus and reviews, post feedback and find out what’s happening.

What do you predict will be the biggest change in contract catering marketing in 2014? Why?

Continued competition from the High Street will force contract caterers to reassess their offer to ensure it’s relevant, exciting and provides customers with good value. Think like a successful retailer, develop a clear customer proposition that’s not a mile wide and include KPIs and goals. Make sure you have a detailed one=year marketing strategy with headlines for years 2 and 3 for all your restaurants. Caterers found lacking a retailer’s mindset will be in trouble.

Anything to add

Digital will provide infinite opportunities to engage with your audience and it keeps you on your toes because everyday there’s an innovative new development. However, just because something’s new it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the next best thing since sliced bread.

Marketing isn’t gimmicks- it’s sustained innovation that delivers a ROI.

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Marketing Director

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