Scooter's Coffee: "Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast"
For Scooter’s Coffee CMO Bill Black, it’s personal.
“The personal touch is our DNA,” he says of the brand’s mission to create a consistently remarkable experience for customers. “We want to make that personal connection each and every time, causing the person to walk away and say, ‘Wow, that was amazing!’”
Touchpoints are critical to Black. He leads the marketing department at Scooter’s with the brand’s promise of “Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast” always at the top of his mind. He believes that within the corporate office he must be a “collaboration agent” for coordinating marketing efforts, and is always looking for ways to tie in all other departments.
“It’s important to wrangle the key people in operations, supply chain, finance, marketing, and every other department,” he says. “There are so many touchpoints along the way during a marketing initiative, both internally and externally, that it’s imperative we have support across the entire organization.” When that happens, he says, good things follow.
Black has 35 years of marketing and advertising leadership experience. He’s 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 the top down, Black and his team are dedicated to the brand’s mission in every interaction, “with the hope of changing someone’s day for the better,” he says. “Your coffee sets the tone for your day, so we know the importance of getting that interaction right.”
Describe your role as CMO. As the chief marketing officer, I have responsibility for the strategic direction of the Scooter’s Coffee brand and oversight to product marketing, customer insights, creative expression, robust digital footprint, media, communications and local market and store-level marketing execution. All of this must be accomplished while delivering on our brand promise of “Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast,” all while maintaining and never compromising our mission and core values. I frequently find that my role reflects the voice of brand stewardship and the customer among the leadership team.
What’s the most challenging part of being a CMO today? I’m not sure it’s necessarily challenging, but definitely I’ve seen a shift in the CMO role to become much more of a collaboration agent within the organization. One of the most challenging aspects is to ensure all stakeholders are looped in and actively contributing to all major marketing initiatives.
How has Covid-19 affected how you have led your brand’s marketing efforts? In March 2020, we were moving forward with a communication strategy that was very product-focused. When Covid hit, it didn’t feel right to continue down that path. We needed to take a step back because there was something bigger at play. Our customers, staff, and communities needed hope. They needed Amazing. To try to provide some positivity amidst a world of uncertainty, we gravitated toward our core values and pivoted to positive messaging, creating hashtags to illustrate this: #TheWorldNeedsAmazing and #BeAmazing.
We created content on how to help your neighbor, how to have a good day, how to give back, etc. We made sure at least half of our communication focused 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 eased back into a more traditional approach over the last year, but we continue to incorporate those messages because they are part of who we are at the core. What we found were that these messages were extremely well received by our customers and the public at large.
What are the 3 most important keys to being an effective CMO leader today? You have to be a person of continuing education and learning to stay ahead of the curve with technology and consumer trends. You must be a great collaborator with peers to ensure the entire organization is sold on the strategy of the brand plan being put forward. Last, 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 the segments of your customer base and learn everything you can about them. Learn about their lifestyle and what makes them tick. It’s not just about how they interact with your product, it’s about how your brand fits into their whole life. Being able to build on the loyalty our brand delivers means being able to establish relationships with our customers and make their day. In addition to knowing your customer, you must know the trends related to your brand. It’s important to constantly be researching what is popular and what is coming down the pipeline. For us, it includes flavor trends, drink trends, and other items to refresh our menu to keep us new and innovative.
How do you measure marketing results and effectiveness? In addition to normal measures like sales, product increases, etc., we focus on brand perception and store growth. We are a very quickly growing brand at almost 400 open stores and are working toward 600 by the end of next year. To keep our growth momentum, it’s important to know the perception of the brand across markets. We implement what’s called an Attitude and Usage Study across core markets as well as frontier markets. We test brand awareness (aided and unaided) and see where people are hearing about us and how they feel about the brand. We are able to see these measurements increase over time along with our store growth, which is very exciting.
Discuss your core consumer marketing strategies and objectives. Without divulging sensitive and confidential information, I will say that we have four different customer segments that we target and build strategies and communication plans around to reach effectively. Each requires a different approach, and while they have many similarities, they also have vast differences. This is a big challenge for our internal team, and we wrestle with it every day. It keeps us on our toes.
How do you go about creating a “customer-centric” marketing and brand philosophy? Coffee is unlike any other consumer product. It’s 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 might go there or order once a week. But with coffee, our core customers come to 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. That first morning connection is so important, and getting that connection right builds loyalty. We know that our audience is extremely loyal and we want to get to know them. We want to build that 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 Insights—This department is responsible for the marketing calendars and for tracking beverage and food trends. It is the first stop in the research and innovation funnel. In addition, this department handles collaboration with operations and the supply chain, e-commerce, the Attitude and Usage Study, and the pricing 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, yard signs, posters, etc. for all franchisees, CPG for our bagged coffees, and so much more. If it needs creative genius, this is the department in charge.
3) Digital Marketing Area—This includes our website and SEO for the consumer, the mobile app and loyalty program, email marketing, and our consumer social media.
4) Retail Store Marketing or Field Marketing—Within this group, we build out all of the store marketing plans for new stores. In addition, all franchisees are provided with two franchise portals containing a plethora of assets for them to use. This department is also responsible for the printing and production of all signage and brand communication through media, outdoor, television, digital media, outdoor billboards, PR, and more. We are excited to continue to build out this department in a more robust way in 2022!
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