At some operations, marketing is simply a line item on the overall organization’s budget. But dining needs a dedicated marketing manager, says Phoebe Cook, general manager for Loyola University at New Orleans’ dining services.
“As foodservice managers, we have so much to handle on a day-to-day basis that we can’t always step back to see how the signage looks or ensure our diners know about all that we’re up to,” Cook says. “Operators know their dining halls, but it’s critical to have a manager who knows marketing.”
When hiring for these positions, Cook looks for bubbly, upbeat candidates “with the executive presence that draws attention when they walk in the room.” Here, she explains more about the do’s and don’ts of hiring a marketing manager—and how to convince your boss that, yes, you really do need one.
1. Do demand project management skills
Marketing managers “need to be able to write, edit, proof documents, check signage, tweet, perform outreach and handle relationships,” Cook says. It’s the core of the gig: Juggling those tasks requires self-motivation, multitasking and an eye for detail.
3. Do look for business and strategic acumen
Some applicants may be better event planners, while others are excellent with social media. But, Cook explains, no matter which way their skills are weighted, successful marketing managers ultimately understand that all efforts need to translate to results. They’re able to demonstrate and track those results, too, while working within a budget.
4. Boss isn’t sold on adding a marketing manager?
Try a small pilot and focus on ROI, Cook advises. Develop a limited-time offer or an email blast—operators might even consider hiring a marketing firm to execute the project—and track the results.
Even small marketing efforts can make a huge difference. For example, when charged with increasing spending on Loyola’s voluntary meal plans, one of Cook’s marketing managers dug into POS data to find students with a balance under $50. She sent each student an email offer for $10 free if they added $100 to their Wolf Bucks account. In one week, the effort raised $12,500—a figure that jumped to $63,000 in less than two months.
“Everyone was blown away,” Cook said. “And we explained: This is what happens when you reach out and educate.”