Who doesn’t love grilled cheese? It is one of my favorite lunches to make at home. Not just any grilled cheese, but I always like to experiment and add things to it. Cheeseboy, out of Connecticut, is a company after my own heart. Being a marketing company out of Charlotte, NC I always like the opportunity to travel and see what new companies are springing up across the country and how they are marketing. Michael Inwald, founder of Cheeseboy appears to have setup a potentially winning formula.
I discovered Cheeseboy back in January on one of my trips up to the Boston area. Usually when I travel up to Boston, my travels take me through South Station. Cheeseboy has a location in South Station. The first time I saw their kiosk I had already purchased food from another vendor at South Station. While waiting, I asked a fellow traveler for her review of Cheeseboy and discovered they had a raving fan. Last week I had the opportunity to pass through South Station and knew exactly where I wanted to eat…at Cheeseboy.
I ordered an Italiano grilled cheese (provolone, fresh basil and pepperoni) and was not disappointed. The sandwich was cooked to a golden brown and hit the spot perfectly. However, this is not a food review but a review of why I believe the company will succeed.
Food to Meet a Need
I, like many other travelers, get tired of fast food. Often time when traveling it seems your choices are limited to hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza and maybe some southwestern fast food chains. You drive down the highway and one exit after another the places all seem to be the same. What Cheeseboy offers is a freshly cooked grilled cheese using cheese cut off the block, fresh bread and a choice of other fresh ingredients and butter. Sandwiches are cooked to a golden brown in a panini press. It is fast but tastes good.
The sandwich appeals to all demographics, young old, low income high income, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. How many moms would prefer to have a freshly grilled cheese for themselves and their children over a precooked burger and fries or some other deep fried food?
Building Their Database by Using Offers
When I ordered my grilled cheese, the employee who rang me up asked me if I would like to be part of their rewards program. I noticed they also asked all other customers if they were part of the rewards program or would like to join. How many companies either do not have a rewards program or if they do are not promoting it to every customer?
Of course I was expecting the typical punch or stamp card where you buy so many sandwiches and the next is free. That was not the case. After receiving the rewards card, it was obvious the company had a strategy for its reward program. They are using it as a tool to collect valuable client contact information so they can grow their database. To register the card you have to go to their website and register the card by giving them some contact information (name, email address, contact address).
By participating you receive a free sandwich after 7 purchases, a free sandwich on your birthday (able to get you to provide your age) along with “surprise” rewards throughout the year. Finally, one of the best reasons for participating, is knowing that every time you use the rewards card a percentage of your sale goes directly to Paul Newman’s Serious Fun camps. This non-profit organization provides a year-round camping experience for children with chronic and life-threatening conditions.
If you like the food, the offer is substantial enough for you to be willing to give up your contact information. When you register they also collect some key demographic information along with segmenting you into a whether you are a vegetarian. Obviously, a product that would appeal to vegetarians. Collecting this information gives them the opportunity to tailor and test specific marketing messages to their vegetarian client database. Assuming they use a specific coupon code, they can measure the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.
Lessons to Learn from Cheeseboy
- Innovation – Cheeseboy took a simple product but added its own innovation and twist and has been successful over the first couple of years and a handful of franchises. Their challenge will be finding the right franchise owners that can follow the system and build on Cheeseboy’s initial success.
- Build Your Database with a Valued Offer – It is not enough to simply have a rewards program, but instead have a rewards program that will allow you to build out your database of customers and prospective clients so you can market to them through an automated marketing campaign.
- Offer something extra. By coupling the rewards program with a much larger cause, a charitable foundation, it provides Cheeseboy with another avenue to engage their customers and work toward a higher cause. They could, at the beginning of the year set a goal for how much money they want to raise via the rewards program and share that with their customers and actively engage them with the cause. Is there something that you can tie in with your product or service to further engage your clients throughout the year?