Integrated Marketing Relationship Marketing

Pizzeria Uno: Deep Dish, Deeper Engagement

My family loves pizza. One of our favorites is Uno Chicago Grill, which we still can’t stop thinking of as Pizzeria Uno. But whenever we would go there, I would cringe. You see, I have a sensitivity to Canola Oil, that seemingly ubiquitous liquid lipid that has insidiously insinuated itself into prepared food everywhere. Whenever we would go to Uno, I would get ill.

But recently, Uno went from dangerous to desirable, all thanks to the little computer kiosk in their vestibule and the ability to search a full ingredients list for every item on their menu. While waiting to be seated, which can take longer than it does to grow the tomatoes from which their sauce is made, I noticed the kiosk and figured I’d check it out.

With just a few clicks, I was able to discover that, in terms of canola, Spinocolli Deep Dish Pizza was good, Farmer’s Market Vegetable was bad. Simple, unassuming Cheese & Tomato Deep Dish was actually cool, canola-wise, while my old standby, Four Cheese Deep Dish, was catastrophically uncool.

Fascinated, and with nothing better to do, I read virtually every potentially non-meat item on the menu, and found some which I never would have tried before that I could now order with abandon. (Crispy Cheese Dippers and Shrimp and Crab Fondue good; Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas and 4 Flavor Veggie Pot Stickers with Peanut Sauce, both bad, bad, bad.)

Uno turned a pain point (a long wait) into a deeply immersive engagement that deepened my relationship with their organization (and turned a foe into a friend.)

They’re also in step with the trends. With more and more people reading ingredients labels, there’s clearly a growing concern over ingredients, nutritional breakdowns, etc. The labels of prescription drugs often include long lists of food ingredients to avoid when taking them. State and municipal governments are mandating various levels of disclosure, from calories and fat to more, and even banning the use of many ingredients.

It makes sense for restaurants to drop their drawers and let consumers get a good look inside. I think Uno is missing a few tricks, though.

Imagine if I could have typed in the ingredients or allergens I wanted to avoid, rather than having to look through the whole menu, and have all the “safe items” pop up? It might be less effective in terms of time of engagement, but more effective in terms of product trial and loyalty.

What if there were kiosks at every table, so that people with concerns could check out a menu item from their multi-page menu rather than having to ask a server? After all, we’re there to eat. We’re going to order something. Why not make sure it’s the right something, so we leave happy and come back wanting more?

Why not give everyone a wireless menu pad when they walk in the door, so customers could check out the ingredients while waiting and order directly from the pad afterwards? You could still have the order confirmed by a live server, and only activated after people were seated, to avoid scheduling issues, allow for suggestive cross- and up-sell and maintain a level of friendly server/customer interaction. Plus, Uno would never need to print another menu — just download the new one onto the pad.

Some of these ideas are almost certainly cost-prohibitive right now. But since a recent study on Marketing Sherpa just found that customer service is the most important aspect of consumer loyalty, the return on investment may actually pay off.

to customers, customer service wins!
Marketing Sherpa found that customers and vendors disagree over loyalty drivers: to customers, customer service wins!

As the chart shows, many vendors don’t get it. I’m betting Uno does, and they’re milking it for everything it’s worth. Not only will you find the same nutritional breakdowns on their website, but you’ll also find that as of this writing the most prominent real estate on their home page touts their accolades: named “America’s #1 Healthiest Chain Restaurant” by Health Magazine, “1 of the top 10 family restaurants” by Parents Magazine, and Prevention Magazine’s “Guilt-Free Favorite Pizza” (which, by the way, I can’t eat, thanks to… canola oil!).

There are many benefits to taking advantage of the growing consumer hunger to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies. So can someone please explain to me why most restaurants insist on serving us mystery meals?

Integrated Marketing

Portrait of the artist as an integrated marketer


My friend, the artist named Marrus, is the best integrated marketer I know. That’s because she is her brand, she lives her brand, she presents a consistent brand image to everyone she meets, and she has a heck of a story to tell.

When she’s not fighting for the right to show her work on Jackson Square in New Orleans (Click here, then see pages 7 and 9 of the newspaper pdf), Marrus travels from Renaissance Fair to Kink Festival to Science Fiction Convention, selling her art and painting faces.

Her tribe is far flung, she’s always on the road, and yet she’s always connected to her community via the internet. And because of this connection, she actually makes a living as an artist, mostly from sales of her prints online and at these events.

She started LiveJournaling because it was the logical way to stay in touch with her far flung tribe throughout the nomadic lifestyle she’d forged. Her posts during and from post-Katrina New Orleans, where she’s rebuilding a home and studio, and those of her partner Jay, who geared up and went back into the ravaged zone and was soon an integral part of the rebuild in some tiny town in Mississippi, were riveting and real, and public.

Her growing involvement with her community of fans has been hard to keep up with. The more popular she gets, the harder it is to answer every post, meet every fan. Like anyone who dives into the Groundswell, she has joined a conversation that she may have started, but no longer controls.

She’s writing an autobiography-journal sort of thing, and I was privileged to read a manuscript and give my opinions. Marrus is a person who lives in the now, vibrantly, and so the last thing I would have expected is that her book about her life would feel anything at all like hanging out with her in real life did. Except it did. For the three days I read the book, it was like hanging out and having one long extended conversation with her. Like a holograph, any one slice of Jen can deliver a fully integrated experience.

She was even the subject of a question I asked Seth Godin when I attended one of his paradigm shifting book tour appearances for The Dip. The question? It was hard enough for creators to have any distance between themselves and their fans before the internet, and blogging. Now, building a community online, a relationship with your fans, is all about personal relationships, answering posts and emails, opening up. And once you’ve built it, you fail to nurture it at your own risk. So, how do you manage community growth when you are your organization and you have limited time? (His answer, as always, was on point (paraphrased from memory, so be kind, Seth): be honest and renegotiate your relationship with your community in a way they can understand, and then own the consequences.)

Marrus is a microcosm of every brand out there that realizes they don’t own the conversation, even when the conversation is intimately about their brand. She’s got scalability issues, budget issues, resource issues, risk management issues (she’s been burned out, flooded out, and victimized by unfair and uneven government intervention), marketing issues, advertising issues, inventory issues, customer service issues… you get the point.

And yet her brand is fully integrated, 360 degrees, 24/7, always showing a consistent message to everyone she meets from every angle. She doesn’t know whether the kid whose face she’s painting is the child of a potential buyer of her original art. She doesn’t know if the person trying to get her attention at a show is one of her most devoted fans or a blogger or the art critic for the Times or just somebody who wants to know where the bathroom is. And she doesn’t care. Her customer service department is fully integrated with her marketing department, able to make the right choice to deliver customer satisfaction and a good user experience with every interaction. Her advertising department would never say something that Legal wouldn’t approve. And her CEO champions every new venture, no matter how cutting edge or low tech, regardless of ROI, as long as it’s in line with her brand integrity.

So, can someone please explain to me why every company and every brand isn’t striving to be more like Marrus?

Integrated Marketing

Bronx Zoo SNAFU

My wife and I have been members of the Wildlife Conservation Society (The Bronx Zoo) for years. This year, rather than renew online, by phone, or by mail, we opted to renew in person. The mailer with our special renewal offer listed multiple ways to renew. We decided to renew on the Family Premium plan, an upsell from our normal Family Membership. Among other things, the plan offers 4 free parking passes, each worth $12.

This Saturday, renewal form in hand, we went to the Zoo. At the cashier booth at the entrance gate, we handed them the renewal form and my credit card and asked for the Family Premium Plan. I was told that I would have to do that up at the entrance gate, that this was the parking cashier, and that I would have to pay $12.

“Will they reimburse me for parking when I buy my membership?”, I asked.


I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation, which involved me trying every way I could to get out of paying the $12 that, had I renewed any of the other ways, would have been handled by a Parking Coupon. It turns out, the parking has nothing to do with the Zoo. And the parking cashier said this was a continual problem, a known issue, and that’s just the way it was.

We paid. We parked. We went to buy our Family Premium Membership at the ticket booth. There, in sequence, the preparer who hands you the clipboard with the form to fill out and then the membership specialist behind the counter (my term, I didn’t ask for an actual title), both repeated basically the same story. They were sorry, but the parking was separate, it’s not our fault, we hate that this is what happens all the time, and we won’t reimburse you for it.

I did get promised that he would notify his bosses that the direct mail memberhip renewal form, which he pointed out also was done by others, not zoo memberhip, failed to tell people that by choosing to renew in person, they’d pay $12 more for the privilege.

To add insult to injury, when we asked the membership specialist where we should go to rent a stroller, he pointed us inside the gate to a kiosk with a group of strollers next to it. But when we went inside the gate to that exact kiosk, we were told that we had to rent the stroller at the ticket booth, and that we would get the stroller 10 yards further up the parking lot driveway.

So outside the gate we went, back in line to the ticket counter, to rent a stroller. Then, ticket in hand, we went up the road that connects one parking lot to another, to a couple of guys standing around a batch of strollers. They gave me a beautiful example of a well-used Bronx Zoo plastic stroller, one with two matching numbered id tags. The stroller guy told me that, when I went to the first exhibit at which I’d have to check my stroller, give the attendant both of these id tags. Somebody had forgotten to take them off at a previous check in.

So, what does this have to do with integrated marketing? Well, to me, the consumer, the Zoo is the Zoo. It’s not the parking lot franchise, it’s not the direct marketing agency and fulfillment subcontractor. And even if I have no right to expect that all of those entities could work together to deliver a premium experience, I could certainly expect that fellow employees who worked all day and all year together a mere 15 feet away from each other, within speaking distance, would know what each did and how each interfaced with the customer.

In other words, hardly integrated. More like another example of segregated marketing.

As a long term, valuable customer to the Zoo, one who has increased his purchase level over time, who buys Camel Rides and souvenirs and overpriced bottles of water, one who might actually pay for one of the pricey overnight events this year now that his daughter is old enough, wouldn’t it have made sense to reimburse me for the parking?

If there’s nobody in charge of customer experience, then situations like the one described are common. If there were somebody who has an integrated view of every customer touchpoint, and the power to act to improve those experiences, could you imagine him allowing a situation like this to occur, continually, repeatedly, with his best customers, renewals?

Can someone please explain to me how one of New York’s top tourist attractions, a worldwide leader in the care and treatment of virtually every species of animal could fail so miserably at the care and treatment of the one species that pays for (justifies) its very existence?

Integrated Marketing

Segregated Marketing

The other day I was putting together a comparison of various media CPMs (define) to contextualize the extra value of paid search impressions for a local business client. So I went to Google and found the website of a local newspaper yesterday, looking for a rate card.

There was no online rate card. There was no “Advertiser” tab. There was no “About Us” or site map. I looked through all the contact us info. Nothing. There was a link to “Place your Classified Ad” (catering to the dwindling minority who’d rather place a classified ad than go on Craig’s List or eBay) but even that section had no link to display advertising information or an advertising department.

I spent 10 minutes searching the site, then returning to Google and trying a deeper search there. Finally, I picked up the phone. And got an answer in 30 seconds and a PDF of a rate card emailed to me in minutes.

Aside from the silly feeling I got from inhaling a little too much high tech irony while bouncing online and off, it occurred to me that this was a perfect example of what integrated marketing is not. It was, in fact, “segregated marketing.”

Integrated marketing is not forcing someone out of one channel and into another. Or making a potential customer feel foolish for having pursued a quite reasonable course of action. I believe that integrated marketing is about providing a consistent experience to your stakeholders, preferably organic, authentic and respectful.

I read a great post the other day by Elana Anderson on ClickZ called “Five Fundamentals of Integrated Marketing” . When asked for examples of integrated marketing companies, she said that while there are plenty of good integrated marketing programs, she had seen few companies that truly excel at integrated marketing.

The Center for Media Research is a bit more positive, reporting on an ANA study that finds that while integrated marketing is a trend and that 2/3 of executives surveyed say the feel their company’s marketing function has become more integrated, only 13% of them are satisfied with their company’s marketing structure.

So with that, here’s the first of what I hope will be many insight-provoking questions.

Can somebody please explain to me why we (marketers & consumers) still tolerate segregated marketing?