In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Bob Kraut, click here.
Marketing leaders run arguably some of the most complicated kitchens in the world. From managing the cook line and wait staff to finding the right ingredients for the perfect marketing menu, today's CMO is also responsible for overseeing an ever-expanding cabinet of tools, which he or she is expected to master before the competition does.
Despite the dizzying-and growing-number of tasks that fall under marketing's purview, my conversation with Bob Kraut of Papa John's before The CMO Club Awards reminded me that the base ingredients are still of the utmost importance: quality, customer satisfaction, employee happiness, a strong message and just enough innovation to stay fresh. Read on as Kraut, winner of a CMO Award for Customer Experience, shares 5 marketing ingredients that keep Papa John's' customers coming back for more.
1) A Straightforward Pie
The first thing I learn from Kraut is that the pizza business is full of bologna, so to speak, when it comes to consumer communications. Price promotions-think "$5 personal pizza" taglines-dominate the messaging, but Kraut says that Papa John's prefers to leave these gimmicks to the competition. "I don't think [it] contributes to a sustainable customer proposition," he says. And it sounds like the company is getting along just fine without the extra cheese. "At Papa John's, we have incredibly loyal customers and they love the brand experience," Kraut says. "The American Customer Satisfaction Index has ranked us the #1 pizza brand in satisfaction 13 of the past 15 years."
In the service industry, employee happiness has an amplified effect on the wellbeing of the business. As Kraut puts it, "Happy employees equal happy customers." At Papa Johns, Kraut is happy to tell me that the employees are right on board with the company's vision and positioning, likely because Papa John's allows employees to get their hands dirty in the dough, if you will. The company fosters a culture of "open innovation," he says, meaning there are never too many cooks in the kitchen. "We solicit and source product ideas and ways to make things better for our customers, and I think it shows up in customer ratings and in our business results."
3) A Tried-and-True Brand Recipe
Many CMOs feel the pressure to refresh and re-brand when they join a company. Bob Kraut, on the other hand, understood the importance of consistency to Papa John's, which meant finding a good recipe and sticking with it. "Papa John's has done what is equivalent to the textbook case on how to build a brand based on quality and consistency," he says. "Quality is the core value of the company. It's in our DNA and has given the company the strength to resist changes over the ups and downs of the business cycle."
"I'm the type of leader that doesn't try to fix things that aren't broken," Kraut says. There's a reason why "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza," has been the motto of Papa John's for decades. However, Kraut acknowledges that his team continues to keep an eye out for ways to improve and refresh, subtly. "'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza' continues to work well for us," he says, "but I think we're making progress in enriching our brand promise and injecting a more contemporary currency to the brand."
4) A Healthy Layer of Social and Mobile
Think about the tenets of pizza-sharing, piling on content, customizing-and you'll realize that social media marketing is a no-brainer for Papa John's. "Pizza is the perfect platform for social media-at its core, pizza brings people together as social platforms do virtually." Kraut says Papa John's has expanded its presence beyond Twitter and Facebook to Instagram and Vine (visual shoe-ins for pizza) and have found social to be a useful avenue for broadcasting its NFL sponsorship, especially on a local level.
Investing in digital channels is a natural choice for the company. As an e-commerce business, nearly 50% of Papa John's sales come via online. "We have a greater share of customers accessing our brand online than any other pizza brand. That kind of us makes the #1 digital brand," Kraut says. Mobile sales are consuming an ever-larger share of that pie. "We have increased our investment in all-things mobile: advertising, apps, alternative payment and localization," he says, all of which have been working well for the company.
5) Rewarding Pizza Lovers
As many CMOs know, loyalty programs are hard to get off the ground and, once in place, are an even larger commitment than many foresee. That said, the payoffs can be huge. Papa John's began its own program in 2010, and Kraut says the move was a smart one for the company. "The pizza market is so price sensitive, and this creates a relationship and another point of connectivity to our most loyal consumers and gives us opportunities for segmentation and more precise marketing."
Moreover, customers love it. Papa Rewards was recently named the top loyalty program in the restaurant category by Bond Loyalty. But like everything with Papa John's, this insight circles back to high quality. "With that said, loyalty programs alone won't work if the pizza isn't good. We know our customers come back for our better ingredients and attention to quality - and it is important to us to reward them for their loyalty."
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today column that runs every Thursday.