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Planning a successful marketing campaign (part 1 of 5)

Over the next five days, I’m going to walk readers through the process of planning a successful marketing campaign.

To demonstrate this process, I’ll be using a case study that my colleague Dee Perez — Director of Marketing for the Gemkell Corporation — and I wrote back in 2009 about the hypothetical opening of a Wagamama restaurant in Rome, Italy.

To begin: what is a marketing campaign? Entrepreneur Magazine defines it as “a specific, defined series of activities used in marketing a new or changed product or service, or in using new marketing channels and methods.” In our scenario, we are marketing the opening of the first Wagamama location in Rome.

The first part of planning a marketing campaign is self-assessment. This entails setting apart some time to sit down and really think about your company’s past, present and future. Ask yourself the following questions: Who are you, as a brand? How do you define yourself? What unique product or service are you offering? What is your overall mission?

The answers to these questions comprise your company’s background, provide a snapshot of who you are. Here is a snapshot of Wagamama:

– A chain of award-winning Pan-Asian-inspired noodle restaurants modeled on Japanese ramen bars
– Menu consists of entrées, side dishes and desserts
– Mission statement: “To combine fresh and nutrition food in an elegant yet simple setting with helpful, friendly service and value for money”
– Founded in 1992 in Bloomsbury, London and currently owned by management, private shareholders and venture capital provider Lion Capital
– Currently operating 65 restaurants in the U.K. and 37 restaurants aborad
– Locations include Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S. 

Wagamama will be a fun but exotic dining option for the Eternal City. However, despite all its past success, the restaurant must carefully consider its challenges. A useful tool for this part of the self-assessment process is SWOT analysis, a strategic planning technique credited to business and management consultant Albert S.Humphrey.

SWOT evaluates the strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) involved in a business venture. This audit will help to identify the internal and external factors that will affect Wagamama’s expansion into Rome — favorably and unfavorably.

“Internal factors” include the company’s strengths and weaknesses. What does the company do well and what are its deficiencies? This should be thought of in terms of the company and the customer. The key is to be truthful so that you can plan accordingly.

Opportunities and threats are derived from “external factors.” The competitive, sociocultural, political and legal environment must all be considered. What economic and social trends might affect the company? What lifestyle changes might affect its success?

Here are results of a SWOT analysis for Wagamama:

Strengths:

– Quick, friendly customer service
– Great, fresh and nutritious food
– Clean, simple sleek design
– Authentic, exotic noodle house experience

Weaknesses:

– Lacks brand recognition outside of the U.K.
– Atmosphere encourages fast table turnover
– Prices are comparatively high for a chain restaurant
– Noisy, crowded, lacking in privacy

Opportunities:

– Hip and modern; appealing in an international city
– Satisfying meals with quick service
– Caters to young, urban professionals
– Trattoria-like environment
– Can accommodate large parties and solo diners alike
– “Pasta with a twist” is a take on Italian cuisine already established to be popular

Threats:

– Japanese menu may not appeal to mainstream Roman tastes
– Affordability (13-14 Euros for simple lunch)
– Long-term sustainability — is the concept/atmosphere too trendy to last?

Being realistic about the market a company is entering means recognizing that some of the company’s defining characteristics may not be embraced. Italians prefer to sit longer at meals than British restaurant-goers and might be turned off by the restaurant’s fast table turnover. This internal weakness may have to be addressed. Similarly, while the food is delicious, Wagamama cannot ignore the fact that Italians might be a bit adverse to foreign cuisine. It’s uncertain whether they will happily welcome a Japanese noodle restaurant.

The SWOT analysis gives us a lot of food for thought. (Excuse the pun.)

With the self-assessment complete, we can move on to establishing Wagamama’s communication objectives, positioning and competitive advantage. I will discuss these elements of a marketing strategy tomorrow, in part two of this series.

Jeremy Striffler is a Retail Market Analyst for NorthMarq, which is based in the Twin Cities and provides provides a full range of services for commercial real estate owners, occupiers and investors. Jeremy specializes in commercial real estate and retail and writes the blog, Simply Ask Compendium, which offers advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs. He is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Young Professionals of Twin Cities.

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