Our thanks to Chris Ganoudis, General Manager for JVC Media in Orlando for sharing his Pizza Hut success story with us. It’s great to see a hugely successful national chain with an amazingly strong relationship with the local community. Meghan Strongrich is the Marketing Director for the store with whom JVC works closely in that market. In all, Meghan is responsible for the marketing of over 130 Pizza Hut locations, which makes the relationship between the two organizations even more special.
Here’s our interview with Meghan…
Radio Ink: Can you give us some background on how you became involved with Pizza Hut?
Meghan: I joined Pizza Hut about 10 years ago. I came on as a Field Marketing coordinator and at the time we were a corporately owned market. Late 2009, our franchise CFL Pizza bought us out and I was promoted to Marketing Manager at that time. I have been working for them ever since. Since then we have acquired the Gainesville and Cincinnati markets so we are up to about 133 Pizza Huts.
Radio Ink: How do you manage that many restaurants?
Meghan: I stay very busy. I have a small team that report to me and stay on track
Radio Ink: Does that put you in charge of the marketing and advertising for all those markets and different type of media
Meghan: Yes just the local spend in those markets.
Radio Ink: I’m guessing you hear a lot from salespeople calling on you from all different industries?
Meghan: Yes. I get several calls a day from people trying to sell all different kinds of media. We are a big name so I get solicited often.
Radio Ink: What is your marketing philosophy? How do you come up with your plan?
Meghan: Our number one goal is to create a great customer experience. We strive to provide a fast, hot, delicious product. Our advertising messaging has always reinforced these values. It is very important to make a connection with your local customers to build an ongoing relationship within the community. We have always used a mix of traditional and non-traditional channels to engage the local market. Since we are a big brand we like to remind customers that even though we are Pizza Hut, a national company, we are also locally owned and operated. We want to be our customers’ hometown favorite pizza.
Radio Ink: What is considered traditional and non-traditional media these days?
Meghan: I think of traditional as radio, outdoor, TV etc.; non-traditional as your digital programs, social media, streaming video etc.
Radio Ink: How did you get introduced to radio and specifically the folks at JVC?
Meghan: I started purchasing radio back when I first started buying media for a company. I was introduced to JVC a few years back through mutual partners.
Radio Ink: What is it you like about the relationship with JVC, what do they bring to the Pizza Hut folks?
Meghan: They are awesome. We love the team over there. They have been an excellent partner over the years. We call each other family. They dive in and want to know how to grow our business, and partner with us; collaborate versus just placing spots for us.
Radio Ink: Chris, why do you think the relationship works so well?
Chris: In our business it is tough to find someone who will say, “If you could help us in this area…,” we would look at ideas — and Megan and the folks at the local franchise gave us the opportunity to do that. The original needs were to help grow their take-out. They asked for some ideas to help us grow this business and we will find a way to work together for a long time. It is a rare thing in our business. When you can find someone who tells you where it itches, it lets us be the best we can be.
Radio Ink: Meghan how are you using radio?
Meghan: We run a full schedule of 15- and 30-second commercials with all three of their local stations. They do live reads for us and we run hiring spots with them. A big thing they have helped us with over the years is our charity drive. We partner with Children’s Home Society of Florida every year and this year we have raised $150K and we have done that year after year for the last 3-4 years. JVC has been a big part of that pushing it out to the community and supporting us with that. We have run in-store promotions. We ran a Wolf Wednesday promo that did well. Customers could get any large pizza for $10.31, which calls out their channel station. That drove a ton of business. They also do live remotes for us, they come out to employee or community events when we have them.
Radio Ink: How do you know you are getting results by using it?
Meghan: When we first started using radio we saw an immediate bump in traffic and sales, so we have continued to use it. We saw that initial jump just by starting radio. Pizza is such an impulse buy, so running ads during that dinner hour helps boost the dinnertime purchases.
Radio Ink: Chris, having a name like Pizza Hut on your stations must be a big deal. It must be very competitive.
Chis: Yes, we are an independent company with a handful of properties in each market. We operate in a very close-knit environment with the local businesses. It is incredibly competitive and to have somebody like Pizza Hut on board we know they are taking market share from other pizza companies. Our competitors would love to get involved. It is always important to deliver for the clients and always make sure we are working on the right projects, that marketing is effective, and that is what we do. We can’t take our eye off the ball, being a smaller group, and always super-serve. That is what earns us that type of enthusiasm with partners like the local Pizza Hut.
Radio Ink: How are you using digital? Does radio help digital or the other way around?
Meghan: I think digital and radio work hand in hand and you need a healthy mix of both. We currently run a robust local digital campaign. It’s a mobile programmatic targeting campaign. I think radio complements that. Customers might see our ad online but not make a purchase, but then hear the radio ad and it reminds them they did want to try that new product. They work together.
Radio Ink: One of radio’s biggest problems is they need to tell a better story so that radio gets more of the advertising budget from all advertisers. What advice do you have for other advertisers considering radio?
Meghan: I believe it is an important part of your media mix. You need to know who you are working with. You want to find people in a station who want to partner with you and grow your business. Radio does have a lot to offer. As long as you find a great partner I would recommend it to anyone.
Radio Ink: Do you have any advice for the radio industry or things you would like to see them do better?
Meghan: There are a lot of stations that don’t take the time or make the effort to get to know what your business is or what your goals are, or are willing to sit down and brainstorm, collaborate with you like JVC does. The more stations that operate like they do, the better.
Radio Ink: It is hard to believe after so many years and advertisers saying that, that it still happens.
Chris: It does happen and it is unfortunate. It is not everybody. There are times when the business gets incredibly transactional and they lose focus. It is our goal not to do that.