Last week’s 2017 Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference in Atlanta was a smashing success, with nearly 350 franchise marketing executives and exhibitors on hand to learn, network, and do some business. The 165 franchisor marketing executives from more than 125 brands included CEOs, presidents, CMOs, marketing VPs, marketing directors and managers, and field marketing, communications, technology, and social media experts.
This year’s Conference Chair was Susan Boresow, president of Title Boxing Club. The two keynote speakers were Robert Stephens, Geek Squad founder and former CTO of Best Buy; and Seth Mattison, workforce strategist and management trendspotter, whose topic was customer experience vs. customer service.
The conference opened with a presentation by Chipotle Brand Visionary William Espey, who was remarkably candid in his assessment of what went wrong with the brand – and how they’ve been working to repair their reputation with consumers since the E. coli breakout of 2015. One big factor, he said, was complacency and not keeping up with their own safety standards following the brand’s success in growing to about 2,300 units and 50,000 employees since its start in 1993.
A “star-studded” panel discussion on succession planning consisted of Craig Ceccanti, co-founder and CEO of Pinot’s Palette; Barbara Moran-Goodrich, co-founder and CEO of the Moran Family of Brands; Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe; and Steve Schildwachter, CMO of BrightStar Care. The lively discussion, facilitated by Ed Waller, CEO of Paul Davis Restoration and 2012 Conference Chair, focused on the four stages of a brand: the beginning (startup), the boom (growth), the transition (change), and the future (unknown). One useful reminder to avoid complacency, from Moran-Goodrich: “Everything changes. The minute you think you have it figured out you don’t.”
Session topics included programmatic marketing, Hispanic marketing, how online ordering and delivery are transforming the restaurant business, branding and brand positioning, digital marketing, lead generation to drive revenue, understanding today’s mountain of data, and many more.
Some of the more than 125 brands registered for the conference included Arby’s, Bojangles’ Capriotti’s, Chester’s, Del Taco, Driven Brands, Express Employment, Great Clips, Hungy Howie’s, Jersey Mike’s, Liberty Tax, Primrose Schools, Toppers Pizza, Wayback Burgers, and Wing Zone.
The Exhibit Hall was packed with solution providers offering marketing technology, public relations, marketing strategy and planning, hyperlocal media campaigns, media planning/buying/optimization, branding, programmatic and digital marketing, SEO, business intelligence, printing and collateral services, and outdoor advertising.
This year’s Platinum Sponsors were Silvercrest Advertising and Visualogistix. The closing dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy was sponsored by SOCi. The conference had 70 sponsors in all.
Next year’s 8th Annual Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference is planned for June and will be held again at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead (Atlanta).