For Brian Hipsher, being a “marketing outsider” has served as an advantage when it comes to managing teams, technology, and business strategies. From positions in HR, Operations, Systems Design and Tech, Brian burst onto the restaurant schedule with loads of curiosity and business savvy. His curiosity didn’t only help him get the job done — it helped him land the job in the first place. “That’s probably why I sounded so different because I asked lots of questions. I was really curious and I knew I could figure things out if given the opportunity. I think I approached the business differently as a result of that,” says Brian, VP of Marketing for GOSH Enterprise’s restaurant brands BIBIBOP and Charleys Philly Steaks.
In this episode of Restaurants Reinvented, Brian talks about building two very different brands — BIBIBOP, a fast casual Asian cuisine brand, and Charleys, a cheese-steak chain with almost 600 locations in 17 countries. He also discusses forging ahead with new, customer-centric innovative campaigns, how marketing has changed since the pandemic, the 4 P’s (now 5 P’s) of marketing, and how he addresses marketing challenges. “At the core, I think for both brands, there’s a lot of care for the employees and care for the guests. And that’s deeply, deeply rooted in Charley himself and his spiritual beliefs. That flows through the company and what the company cares about as well,” Brian says.
Name: Brian Hipsher
What he does: Brian works as the VP of Marketing at BIBIBOP and Charleys Philly Steaks, overseeing brand management for two unique restaurants.
Key Quote: “I’m the marketer that doesn’t believe the hype in the craft … I don’t believe that every single thing I do is going to draw a clear line to sales growth and I always try to prove why something doesn’t work first before I’ll accept that.”
🌶️ Brian likes to base most things on data-driven research.
This starts with people — trying to understand what they are saying about the brand, who they are and what they find important. “Having data and insights on our guests made the creative process a lot easier — understanding that gave us ideas around the voice that we should be using with them.”
🌶️ Everything is about the team effort for Brian.
“I rarely will take credit when things are up. And I also try not to take the blame too much when things aren’t so good,” he says. This is because, in everything he does, there are different parts of a larger machine working together. Marketing is just one piece of the bigger picture.
🌶️ Because of the COVID-19 pandemic,
BIBIBOP and Charleys Philly Steaks restaurants were closed for six weeks to make sure employees and customers stayed safe. During that time, however, work didn’t stop. He made sure to use the time wisely, focusing on fine-tuning the brands, nailing down their core messages and upgrading their digital platforms, which included changing the way people order online and creating a new app.
Getting ahead with data-driven insight
“The biggest opportunity for marketers today is to continue learning on the data side of things and really understanding the insights and how they can be used to understand your guests and improve the profitability of the business.”
A loyalty app with the right insight
“The loyalty app is helping a lot, and it ties in also with our online ordering. So, we’re getting all that data in to understand purchase behavior. We’re also piloting another analytical tool that really gives us insights into our guests outside of the loyalty program and their purchase behavior. It uses tokens to and from credit cards to track their path in what they’re doing inside of our restaurants. And we use all that data to help us build better campaigns.”
Listening makes you wise
“The thing that excites me the most about what I’m doing today is working with the teams, developing them and helping them to become the best at what they do, learning from them and staying young by listening carefully.”
Promotions that focus on guests’ wellbeing
“We do wellbeing challenges through our app, and essentially it is challenging a guest to do something that maybe they wouldn’t normally do on a daily basis. It could be something as simple as we challenge you to call a friend that you haven’t spoken with in a long time. We really do care about our guests’ wellbeing, so we want to encourage folks to try something, and if they do that, we’ll give them 20 bonus points in the app for the next time they come in.”
Care about your people for a better team
“Another big one is just take care of your people. For me, that’s always been the one, making sure that you spend a lot of time with your teams, understand how you can help make their lives better, help build their skills, find out what they really desire and help them get there.”