Just about any company views growth as an intentional strategy and sign of success. However, when expanding into new markets, brands often find themselves starting from scratch. When a brand finds a formula that works in one market, it can be seductive and invigorating to make it a success in other markets. Here is the warning label: Breaking into a new market can be very challenging.
When companies try to bring their existing product or services to a new market, the story often does not end well. The reason, of course, is that each market is special and nuanced. Knowing the market up and down, backward and forward, inside and out, is vital. One of the most important parts of the process is the first impression, also known as the launch. To that end, partnering with experts who can help you launch your company in a new market is one of the key ingredients in making the growth effort a big win.
The Case: Flats Growing Fast
Tijuana Flats is growing rapidly. The fast-casual Tex-Mex restaurant known for its flavorful, fun menu items and “Flat-Outrageous” attitude may have been founded in Florida, but it hasn’t taken long for word to spread. Franchises have started in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Indiana, but its newest location, Richmond, Virginia, had a common challenge to overcome before their taco takeover could begin.
This brand launch had to be handled with strategy and care in order to win over Richmonders even before their first bite of burrito or chomp of chimichanga. Like many businesses experiencing growth and debuting in a new market, it took a key strategy that your business may be able to leverage when the time is right–even if you’re not in the taco trade.
The Strategy: Piñatas and Community Partnerships
The Findsome & Winmore public relations team had one job to do, but it was a big one: spread the good word of Tijuana Flats and its tasty Tex-Mex goodness. To do so, they crafted an in-depth integrated strategy that included consumer activation, media outreach and full digital media strategy–a strategy that began with piñatas.
As an initial announcement to the Richmond community, the agency helped choose key locations within the community to place a dozen giant piñatas filled with “Flats Cash” gift cards and other taco-themed goodies. These locations included local universities like the Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond, as well as the Children’s Museum and Lombardy Park. Bolstered by media attention gained through strategic outreach, even if a Richmonder missed the piñata sightings for themselves, chances are they heard about them from friends or read about them in one of these outlets. Visibility is vital with a brand launch in a new market, and that’s exactly what these efforts won in Richmond.
But it wasn’t just piñatas. The team also created and implemented ads that drove visitors to content promoting the store grand opening, generating thousands of new site visits. The ads themselves received over a half million impressions as well. Though this attention did bolster sales, it also created an impact on a community service level–something Tijuana Flats has always encouraged.
Partnering with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Tijuana Flats raised substantial funds through training meal sales. This children’s hospital will continue to benefit from the restaurant, as it was officially chosen as the partner for Tijuana Flats’ Just in Queso Foundation, a non-profit that funds local charities in the communities the company serves. Though surely a good karma move, partnering is also a fantastic way to connect with a new market, leading to local goodwill and real business benefits. Don’t discount the power of serving your new community.
Through these grand opening and launch-specific promotional strategies, Tijuana Flats opened with a bang. From the outside-of-the-box piñata placements combined with an integrated ad campaign, each of these individual elements led to a memorable first impression and, with any luck, long-lasting success in Richmond.
Breaking into a new market is always a tall order. Even if your business isn’t a restaurant or even retail, finding the knowledgeable partners, understanding your audience segments, learning about the area and embracing the community are all critical steps to making a splash in a new market. Never underestimate the power of the perfect first impression