For Bill Black, CMO of Scooter’s Coffee, it’s personal.
“The personal touch is our DNA,” he says of the brand’s mission to create a consistently great customer experience. “We want to make that personal connection every time, getting the person to pull away and say, ‘Wow, that was amazing! “”
Contact points are essential for Black. He runs Scooter’s marketing department with the brand promise of “amazing people, amazing drinks… unbelievably fast” always on top of his mind. He believes that within head office he needs to be a “collaboration agent” to coordinate marketing efforts, and is always looking for ways to link up with all other departments.
“It’s important to compete for key people in operations, supply chain, finance, marketing and all other departments,” he says. “There are so many touch points during a marketing initiative, both internally and externally, that it is imperative that we have support throughout the organization. When that happens, he says, the good things follow.
Black has 35 years of experience in marketing and advertising. He has worked with companies such as Nutrisystem, Dunkin ‘Brands, Friendly’s Ice Cream, and he was the founder of The Marketing Coach, a marketing strategy and consulting firm. He joined Scooter’s in 2018.
From top to bottom, Black and his team are dedicated to the brand’s mission in every interaction, “hoping to change someone’s day for the better,” he says. “Your coffee sets the tone for your day, so we know the importance of good interaction. “
Describe your role as CMO. As Marketing Director, I am responsible for the strategic direction of the Scooter’s Coffee brand and overseeing product marketing, customer insights, creative expression, robust digital footprint, media, communications and marketing execution at the local market and store level. All of this must be accomplished while delivering on our brand promise of “Incredible People, Incredible Drinks… Incredibly Fast,” while upholding and never compromising our mission and core values. I often find that my role reflects the voice of brand and customer management within the leadership team.
What’s the hardest part of being a marketing manager today? I’m not sure it’s necessarily a challenge, but I’ve certainly seen a shift in the role of the Marketing Director to become much more of a collaboration agent within the organization. One of the most difficult aspects is making sure that all stakeholders are connected and actively contribute to all major marketing initiatives.
How has Covid-19 affected the way you have directed your brand’s marketing efforts? In March 2020, we were moving forward with a communication strategy very focused on the product. When Covid hit, it didn’t seem right to me to continue down this path. We had to take a step back because there was something bigger at stake. Our customers, our staff and our communities needed hope. They needed Incredible. To try and bring some positivity in a world of uncertainty, we turned to our core values and turned to positive posts, creating hashtags to illustrate this: #TheWorldNeedsAmazing and #BeAmazing.
We’ve created content on how to help your neighbor, how to have a good day, how to give back, and more. We’ve made sure that at least half of our communication focuses on how to make the world a better place for people and how to build that emotional connection, which is key for any brand. We have reverted to a more traditional approach over the past year, but we continue to incorporate these messages because they are part of our identity. What we have found is that these messages have been extremely well received by our customers and the general public.
What are the 3 most important keys to being an effective CMO leader today? You need to be a continuing education and learning person to stay on the forefront of technology and consumer trends. You need to be a great collaborator with your peers to make sure that the entire organization is convinced of the strategy of the proposed branding plan. Finally, you have to be a developer of people with an eye for rock star talent.
How do you prepare a marketing plan and execute the strategies? Know your customer. Identify your customer segments and learn all you can about them. Find out about their way of life and what motivates them. It’s not just about how they interact with your product, it’s about how your brand fits into their entire life. Being able to build on the loyalty that our brand offers means being able to build relationships with our customers and get on with their day. In addition to knowing your customer, you need to know the trends related to your brand. It’s important to be constantly on the lookout for what’s popular and what’s coming up. For us that includes flavor trends, beverage trends and other things to refresh our menu to keep us new and innovative.
How to measure the results and effectiveness of marketing? In addition to normal metrics like sales, product increases, etc., we focus on brand perception and store growth. We are a very fast growing brand with almost 400 open stores and we expect 600 by the end of next year. To maintain our growth momentum, it is important to know the perception of the brand across the markets. We carry out what is called an attitude and use study in core markets as well as in frontier markets. We test brand awareness (with or without help) and see where people hear about us and what they think of the brand. We can see these metrics increase over time as our store grows, which is very exciting.
Discuss your main consumer marketing strategies and goals. Without divulging sensitive and confidential information, I will say that we have four different customer segments that we target and develop communication strategies and plans to reach them effectively. Each requires a different approach, and while they have many similarities, they also have some big differences. It’s a big challenge for our internal team, and we struggle with it every day. He keeps us going.
How do you go about creating a “customer-centric” marketing and branding philosophy? Coffee is unlike any other consumer product. It is a loyalty product. Your favorite restaurant might be the type of place you go to once a month. Or if you have a family pizza night, you can go or order once a week. But with coffee, our main customers come to see us every day. We are part of their life. Sometimes we are the first human interaction they see in the morning on their way to work, school, etc. This first morning connection is so important, and a good connection builds loyalty. We know our audience is extremely loyal and we want to get to know them. We want to build this relationship and make them ambassadors of our brand.
Describe your marketing team and the role each plays. Our team can be divided into four main functional areas.
1) Product Marketing and Consumer Information: This department is responsible for marketing calendars and monitoring food and beverage trends. This is the first step in the research and innovation funnel. In addition, this department manages collaboration with operations and supply chain, e-commerce, attitude and usage study and price analysis.
2) In-house creative studio — This department is responsible for our brand expression, including digital and print, signage, menu boards, photography, food styling, banners, garden signs , posters, etc. for all franchisees, CPG for our bagged coffees, and more. If he needs creative genius, that’s the department in charge.
3) Digital Marketing Zone: This includes our website and consumer SEO, mobile app and loyalty program, email marketing and our mainstream social media.
4) Retail Store Marketing or Field Marketing: Within this group we develop all store marketing plans for new stores. Additionally, all franchisees have two franchise portals with a plethora of assets to use. This department is also responsible for printing and producing all signage and brand communication through media, exterior, television, digital media, exterior billboards, public relations, etc. We are delighted to continue to develop this department in a more robust way in 2022!