Marketing a International Gourmet Franchise

by Toni Jakovec

Bethany Malone, gourmet franchise marketing

Bethany Malone,
VFUSA Marketing

One of the great benefits of being a vomFASS franchisee is taking advantage the professional marketing resources of national, and even international corporate promotions.  Of course, local advertising and event planning is still the responsibility of each individual shop.  However, access to corporate promotions is advantageous to associate with the brand and benefit from proven, successful marketing programs.  How do you access these corporate perks?  That prompted this interview with Bethany Malone, part of the marketing team at vomFASS corporate headquarters in Madison.

Toni Jakovec:  Who comprises the vomFASS marketing team?

Bethany Malone:  Cody Bennett is our Marketing Manager and myself.  We get a lot of insight from our President, Justin Gibson and the Operations Team.  We also get some assistance from Germany through Samira Esfahani our US Liason.

TJ:  What are your responsibilities?

BM:  I manage the partner information as well as product information.  I coordinate with Germany a great deal regarding any new gourmet products, product changes, etc., all of which is then distributed to our franchisees.  I help plan and execute all of the marketing promotions, also making everything available to our franchise partners.  I am the website administrator for the US.  I work hand-in-hand with Germany as they are the host of the website.  I also write all of the corporate e-newsletters for vomFASS USA that get shared with our national partners to use in their local markets. And I help coordinate Grand Openings.

TJ:  What background do you bring to vomFASS marketing?

BM:  I graduated in 2013 with my Bachelors in Business Administration in Marketing.  I went to school for marketing and did several internships, including ESPN radio for a year and a half, as I was originally going to go into intercollegiate athletics leadership.  After working for vomFASS seasonally and on the sales floor, I then moved up to corporate in August 2014.

TJ:  Who generates the marketing concepts and ideas?

BM:  That’s definitely a team effort.  We have a call/meeting every week between the Operations and Marketing teams led by Justin Gibson (President vomFASS USA).  It is at this meeting that we discuss any idea from Justin or any other team member that we’re developing or perhaps a promotion from Germany.

TJ:  I spent my lifetime in advertising and promotion and we thrived on “brain storming” sessions.  Do you have similar sessions to think up promotions?

BM:  We have a marketing calendar that we stick fairly close to and when an event is close that’s when we begin brain storming ideas and themes.  Sometimes an event that we have done before is on the calendar, like “Mango Madness” coming up in March, which is very well designed already.

TJ:  Is the marketing program essentially “calendar driven?”

BM:  Yes, it is primarily calendar driven, although we also have product and sales driven promotions.  By and large, most of our promotions are seasonal.

TJ:  Who handles publicity for vomFASS?

BM:  We have been working with All Points Public Relations out of Chicago, who has been handling national publicity.  However, we are shifting to a new plan where individual shops will be encouraged to generate local publicity including hiring their own PR professional to better exploit their local market opportunities.

TJ:  Once a marketing idea is formulated, who designs the campaign?

Cody Bennet, VFUSA Marketing Manager

Cody Bennet,
VFUSA Marketing Manager

BM:  All of our design work is currently handled by Cody (Bennett).  All of the visuals including signs, posters, banners, images, etc. is designed by Cody.  A lot of the copy is then written by me, or I reach out to you, Toni, if we need help or sometimes the copy just evolves naturally following the promotion.

TJ:  Aside from the graphic design elements, who decides what the campaign includes, such as will posters be used, what publicity needs to be generated, what kind of advertising is required, etc.?

BM:  Those questions are solved by the Marketing Calendar, where campaigns are planned out including how many posters are needed, and so forth, based on the size of the campaign.  Usually our larger campaigns are around the holidays and our Summer Indulgence.  The rest of the campaign planning is done by Justin, Cody and myself, as to what is needed.  Sometimes we pull in the Operations Team, like Ben Meinen, who has written event plans for our partners.

TJ:  In general, what does a typical campaign entail?

BM:  Usually a campaign includes posters, recipe cards, event plans, one or two e-newsletters shared with the partners, website & Facebook banners and we have some marketing interns that help us with Facebook posts and content.

TJ:  Who’s in charge of advertising?

BM:  Advertising is handled by each gourmet franchise partner allowing for more local focus.

TJ:  Are franchise partners given any advertising guidance?

BM:  Yes, we have several suggestions for advertising.  For example, Facebook ads have proved very successful and we recommend that to all of our partners. We also recommend that each shop identify the key print advertising outlets in their area such as newspapers or magazines that reach local foodies.

TJ:  Once media and a budget has been decided upon, who then designs the ads, writes the copy, etc.?

BM:  All of our partners can ask for such materials from vomFASS USA.  The partners source the ads, provide dimensions and Cody will produce the ad for them.  This is a very helpful service to our partners.

TJ:  So the partners really benefit from the marketing efforts of vomFASS USA.

BM:  Yes they do.  Virtually everything our marketing team creates is available to the partners.  This includes any ideas, concepts, and materials.  We are constantly adapting our materials so they will be most effective in our partners’ markets.  We are also available to our partners for any ideas they may generate and need a bit of help with, including design and copy work.

TJ:  Can a partner design their own ads and promotions?

BM:  Yes, but they do need to submit them to us for approval as part of the “Corporate Identity Standards.”

TJ:  What promotions are you working on now and when will they break?

BM:  We just finished our Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month promotions, so now we will be focusing on March, which includes our “Mango Madness” campaign.  Although we don’t do national advertising, we are working currently on some SEO updates (search engine optimization) that will directly benefit our partners nationwide.  I am also working on improving the website, which also benefits everyone as the websites are connected.

TJ:  Who manages social media?

BM:  That’s a very collaborative process as Cody manages Facebook and our interns are very helpful in producing more relevant and consistent content. Our interns have also been instrumental in refreshing our Pinterest page, resulting in many more “pins.”

TJ:  All of this is accomplished by essentially just you and Cody?

BM:  I know. Considering the size of the marketing team, we do accomplish a great deal and I do think the marketing has evolved and come a long way in just the two short years that I have been involved.  I am very proud of the amount of material that is produced, the number of e-newsletters that go out and the improved channel of communication between vomFASS USA and all of our gourmet franchise partners.

TJ:  Thanks Bethany.

From Toni’s Kitchen: Mango Avocado Vinegarette

Heart Heathy Meals are easy for customers with vomFASS recipes and products

Heart Heathy Meals are easy for customers with vomFASS recipes and products

February is National Heart Health Month.  The vomFASS website has lots of delicious and healthful recipes.  The tasty Mango Avocado Vinegarette dressing can dress spring greens and scallions or as pictured with apples, walnuts, arugula and mangos.  Try serving it with a filet of grilled fish seasoned with our vomFASS Pinapple Curry  or vomFASS Basil Citrus Salt and enjoy the benefits of turmeric or a light dash of sea salt.  These seasonings can be found through our vomFASS OVS stores.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.