Hotdogging It: Wienerschnitzel's New CMO comes Well-Prepared

Hotdogging It: Wienerschnitzel's New CMO comes Well-Prepared

Doug Koegeboehn is a great example of the connection between ad agencies and franchise brands. Named CMO of Wienerschnitzel earlier this year, Koegeboehn already had decades of experience with the brand when he came on board: the former account director at DGWB Advertising had been working on the Wienerschnitzel account since 1995. Along the way he developed a marketing toolbox that includes experience developing annual ad plans and promotions, menu strategies, and even helped create new products. At DGWB, he also worked accounts that included the California Avocado Commission, Yogurtland, Dole, and El Pollo Loco.

"I love the enjoyment of eating food," says Koegeboehn. "I know everybody else gets enjoyment from eating too, and that's why I have relished spending much of my entire career working on food-related business." So last year when the opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance to join the Galardi Group family as Wienerschnitzel's CMO. The Galardi Group also includes the Hamburger Stand and Tastee-Freez brands. So far, so good. "I love it," he says.

At Wienerschnitzel, Koegeboehn is responsible for leading the brand marketing, digital, menu, and overall communications strategy. He also oversees the newly formed visionary department, which he describes as"a forward-thinking marketing division dedicated to building brand loyalty among younger generations."

Although Wienerschnitzel is a 53-year-old brand, Koegeboehn says its identity is more like that of a start-up. He says the brand is a family-owned business and that the culture there is not afraid to take risks, try new things, and look for ways to differentiate the brand.

Relationships are a significant focus for the brand. "You don't join Wienerschnitzel as a franchisee, you become part of the Galardi Group family," he says. "We are developing a relationship that's going to last years. With that in mind, we work hard to build trust versus just generating a transaction." He says the company does that on a personal level by building relationships through its shared core values.

Describe your role as CMO.
That would take a lot more pages than I'm sure you are willing to allocate! In brief, my role is to improve the value of the trademarks of our corporation. Everything we do needs to improve the perception of what our brands are worth. The role itself is like being a modern-day Renaissance man. Today's CMO has to be proficient in so many fields. There is a revitalization going on in the marketing world and we must have a diverse knowledge for our brands to communicate successfully.

What's unique about the CMO position at Wienerschnitzel?
A ton of things make Wienerschnitzel unique, from the products we sell, to our building prototypes, to even our name. But on top of that, we are unique in the way we behave. We act like a start-up company with a 53-year history. That means we do everything we can to differentiate. We don't see money as the solution to every problem. We invest back in the company, we build influential relationships, we take risks, we are persistent, we are intensely competitive, and we believe we are building something significant. Additionally, we are unique because we are family-owned, and I love it. Being family-owned allows us to make decisions that benefit our guests and franchisees versus stockholders.

What's the most challenging part of being a CMO today?
It really is the "taking risks" part of the job. The average tenure of a CMO is less than 3 years. Because of that, many CMOs make safe decisions instead of the ones that are going to improve the value of the brand. Sure, taking risks could have negative consequences, but without them you'll never grow.

What are the 3 most important keys to being an effective CMO leader today?
1) Dream big. 2) Use analytics and common sense in making decisions. 3) Get stuff done (don't just talk about it, make it happen).

How do you prepare a marketing plan and execute the strategies?
It's a discipline and there's a formal process. But in brief, you figure out what you are trying to accomplish (goals), decide who cares and why they care (target behaviors and attitudes), and identify the reasons and actions that would persuade them to achieve what you are trying to accomplish (strategies and tactics). Then you implement with deadlines. Finally, you celebrate the results.

How do you measure marketing results and effectiveness?
It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If it's demand, then we track transactions and average check. If it's loyalty, then we track repeat visits. If it's messaging, then we track our ROI on how many people served the message actually visited our restaurants.

Discuss your core consumer marketing strategies and objectives.
1) Increase demand by attracting new customers and bringing current customers in more frequently. 2) Improve the value by making customers happy about visiting and improving our overall image. 3) Increase the loyalty of our guests to get them to choose us over others. 4) Lay the foundation for future growth.

How do you go about creating a "customer-centric" marketing and brand philosophy?
You have to understand your target audiences' attitudes and behaviors for your brand as well as for the limited-service restaurant category. To really understand why your target audience would care about what you are trying to accomplish, you need to understand more than just demographics. You need to understand their motivators so you can provide the reasons and actions that would build a relationship and, hopefully, have them behave in a certain way. We work hard at building relationships with current and future guests and look forward to enjoying lifelong relationships with each other.

Describe your marketing team and the role each plays.
It's a team of Renaissance men and women. But it is broken down into two disciplines that work cohesively together. On one side, we have the group that markets the restaurant itself, and on the other side we have a group that is activating the brand, building relationships, and attracting a new audience that will be our customer base for the next 30 years. It's a unique structure that works great because of the quality and dedication of the people on our marketing team.

Why is it so important for the marketing department to have a "personal touch" when it comes to helping the brand connect with franchise prospects?
Incorporating a personal touch is just how we behave at the Galardi Group. You don't join Wienerschnitzel as a franchisee, you become part of the Galardi Group family. We are developing a relationship that's going to last years. With that in mind, we work hard to build trust versus just generating a transaction. You do that on a personal level, building a relationship through shared core values.

How does this help your franchise sales and development effort?
It's gotten us to where we are today as the world's largest chain.

How is technology changing the way franchise marketing is done in terms of one-to-one contact?
It's better for both franchisor as well as potential franchisee. It allows the franchisor to reach more potential franchisees with our message. It allows the franchisee better access to more information to see if there is a good fit for what they are trying to accomplish. But most of the technology advances help in the beginning of the franchise process. Once we start building a relationship, the communication is more personal and direct.

Do you see vendors as business partners? Why/why not?
Absolutely. They are great brands with excellent marketing departments. We tap into their resources to help build our brand and provide insights for us to be successful. We love it when our partners post about us, include us in their and go the extra mile because of the relationships we have together.

What advice would you offer to aspiring CMO executives?
It goes back to the three most important characteristics of a successful CMO today: Number one, dream big. Number two, use analytics and common sense in making decisions. Number three, get stuff done (don't just talk about it, make it happen). And call your mother more often. It will improve your character.

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