Marco’s Pizza ® Franchise Hires Cathy Hull to Oversee Marketing
Former Fazoli’s executive sees opportunities to grow Marco’s Pizza ® Franchise with multi-pronged marketing strategies
Cathy Hull is the newest executive team member at Marco’s, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about what she’s bringing to the table: a great amount of experience in strengthening iconic brands and spreading the word about them locally, regionally and nationally.
Most recently, Cathy, who came on board as Marco’s chief marketing officer in December, was head of marketing at Fazoli’s, where she played an essential role in repositioning the brand from quick-serve to fast-casual. Under her tenure, Fazoli’s experienced more than 30 months of same-store sales growth.
Cathy’s accomplished career has also included a stint at Oscar Mayer, where she was the first female regional manager in the history of the company. She also worked in executive management at Kraft Foods and served as vice president of strategy and brand marketing for Papa John’s.
Jack Butorac, CEO and president of Marco’s, says Cathy’s arrival is right in line with Marco’s goal to grow to the top and challenge the Big 4 pizza chains.
“Cathy’s experience in marketing strategy creation and execution, new-product development and launch, and overall leadership capabilities to create brand alignment across the organization will benefit our franchise partners tremendously and take us over the edge in our category,” Jack says.
Here’s some insight from Cathy on how she hopes to take Marco’s to the next level.
You’ve been on the job at Marco’s for a few weeks now. How’s it going? Any first impressions you’re willing to share?
It’s been great. I knew a lot of good things about Marco’s because I really did my due diligence when I was going through the interview process. I knew about the company culture and about some of the great things Marco’s is doing. That said, to be here makes it all become very real. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, supportive and very passionate about the Marco’s brand. Everybody here believes the vision that Jack Butorac and the executive team have set, and there is a true sense of working together toward that common goal. They have a pretty small team here. It’s amazing how much has been accomplished, given the available resources.You can just feel the passion here. Everybody here is dedicated to Marco’s success, and they believe the way you get it done is by working together.
I started first with a goal of going in and just listening and learning. I ask a lot of questions, even though I’ve got 30-plus years in the food business and know about process and product development. I talk to a variety of people across the board — the people at headquarters and in operations and the franchisees. These conversations help to really identify the big opportunities for improvement in the Marco’s process and figure out the changes that need to be made. It’s been a great few weeks. I’m looking forward to the future.
From the articles I read, it seems like you were credited a lot helping Fazoli’s grow and helping that brand evolve.
What kind of similar opportunities do you see at Marco’s? Are there parallels?
One of the biggest things is something that we touched on earlier — the fact that day to day in the industry you just you don’t hear much about the Marco’s brand. What that says to me is that there’s a huge opportunity to drive consumer awareness and make sure that people who want to eat out at least know who we are. We at least want a chance to be in that consideration. That’s certainly something we will further enhance within the framework of the brand. It’s a matter of figuring out how to be top of the mind. How do we get on that list that people have in their mind when they are hungry and thinking about food?
How do you do that? I’m sure you have a multi-pronged approach, but what are some of the kinds of things you did at Fazoli’s?
I am a big believer in everything communicative. We have to make sure that we can be wherever our consumers are. Think of yourself as a consumer. I know when I sit down to watch TV, it’s hard to remember the last time I paid attention to the commercials. Usually, if my TV is on, then I’m also on my iPad, talking to somebody on the phone or going through the mail. These days, we are multi-tasking and our attentions are very diverted. It doesn’t work to send your brand’s message to just one area. It’s a challenge to find the message we want to get out there and then send it every place we possibly can.
I joined Fazoli’s at a time when they had closed a number of restaurants. At one point, they were 400-plus franchises, and when I came in, there were about 200. We had to figure out how to reinvigorate the brand and make it something again. I had a wonderful time working with that brand. It was becoming forgotten, so the challenge was to polish it up and make it really go. Marco’s is a little bit different. It’s out there and has been growing, but we have got to make sure the consumer knows about us. Of course, Marco’s is known well in some markets, such as Cleveland, but we want to grow and become widely known in many more places. It takes time to grow and build that awareness.
I’m a big believer in quality of product and quality of service and the differentiation, so those are some of the things we will be working on from a branding and marketing perspective. Marco’s has a great story and a great product. It’s a matter of telling as many people as we can.
So that is how you stand out?
You get out there and tell the story any way you can. You communicate as much as you can about the brand, the quality and how it’s different, and just keep focusing on those messages. It’s great that Marco’s is already growing, but it could be growing even bigger.
I read that you’ve done a lot with marketing in the local, social and mobile areas. Tell me why local marketing is important.
I still believe a lot of business is done by building relationships. Most people do business with businesses in their local town. I know I go to my local coffee shop, my local Starbucks. My friends and I were just talking about this in conversation a few weeks ago. We don’t pay attention to the fact that Starbucks or Subway has X number of units. We don’t say, “Hey let’s go order lunch from Subway for lunch because they have 14,000 units. You talk about it in terms of your frame of reference — it’s my Subway or my Starbucks. You don’t stop and think, “Hey, they’re a big chain and that’s why I’m going to go pick them for coffee.” Inherently, it’s because you’ve had a good experience there, and it’s in your town — that’s where you go.
Local store marketing is important because it establishes relationships with consumers. TV talks to us as consumers and makes people aware, and I am a believer in TV in the right format. It’s the biggest, broadest way to get reach. But, in general, you don’t really form that close, local relationship with TV. It gives you a message and it drives awareness, but it really doesn’t create the relationship. But it’s these local relationships that are really important today, maybe even more than ever because technology taking off so much. You just don’t have quite as much of face-to-face interaction with people.
Can you say a little more about how you create effective local marketing?
Local store marketing is really about establishing relationships with businesses physically around your store. Then you have the social element, which is your Facebook and your Twitter account. You can build relationships in those places because you can have dialogues there. You can conduct different polls and invite people to tell you what they like and don’t like about the latest pizza you’ve put out there. There are many kinds of conversations to be had.
The social element is where you get your grand advocates. Say you and I are friends on Facebook and you are talking about this great new pizza you just had. I may go try it because you’ve liked it or talked about it on Facebook. Then you get into the mobile element. It’s different than Facebook, but also similar in that it’s the ultimate in convenience. We are all walking around with smartphones where there’s constant communication and immediate calls to action. I don’t know at this juncture how I’m going to use these social tools with Marco’s, but I can tell you we are going to use many different ways to communicate with consumers. My job with this team is to determine which methods make the most sense for us to use, what messages are we going to put out there and how are we going to use them.
If you could wave a magic wand, where would Marco’s be in three years?
The majority of people would know about Marco’s and understand what we stand for — high-quality, authentic Italian pizza and an awesome experience. We would be driving many, many more people into our restaurants. That’s the vision that I really want — to help drive the recognition of a really strong and healthy brand that delivers a top-notch food experience every single time someone has it. You have probably heard (CEO) Jack Butorac say that we want to be the fourth largest pizza chain. We certainly want to be there!
Do you have a favorite menu item yet?
Right now I’m loving sausage, mushroom and extra cheese on original crust. The specialty pizzas are really good as well. I recently tried a Chicken Fresca pizza, and it was really great.
Learn more about Marco’s
Marco’s is a terrific brand. We are growing at a great rate and that is going to continue to happen. I just want to be a part of that growth and help the team. I really want people to know what Marco’s is so they will get to the point that they go in and try Marco’s. I know once they try Marco’s they will definitely come back.
We are excited about our rapid growth, and there’s never been a better time for the new or experienced investor to join a proven concept. If you’d like to join Marco’s before we reach our tipping point, please fill out the form at right or give us a call at 1-800-262-7267. We’d love to start a conversation.