A time for ingenuity and relationships
Robin Blanchette
Chief Executive Officer of Norton Creative

Plato was right when he wrote, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” particularly now. Robin Blanchette, CEO of Norton Creative, agrees. “What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow,” she says. “The key is not giving up.”

Norton Creative is a boutique creative agency that provides restaurant marketing and design solutions, with a focus on social/digital media and menu design. Having worked with restaurants for more than 25 years, Blanchette has a deep commitment and love for the industry. RMS spoke with her to get her advice about how restaurants can manage the current environment. Here’s what she had to say:

  • Whatever it takes, say “yes” to customers. Blanchette shared an example from restaurant Salata. A customer posted on social media how disappointed they were to be outside the restaurant’s delivery area. Salata contacted them, said “yes,” and delivered to the customer’s location, which wasn’t close.
  • Work at lightning speed. Don’t overthink it, Blanchette says. Let go of stage gates and take action. Two weeks ago, many fine dining brands had no to-go menu. One week later, they do. “These restaurateurs came up with a menu on the fly, without going through testing,” she explained. “They recognized now’s the time to get directly to-go, and they did.”
  • Realize there is always an opportunity. Think creatively. Norton helped Luby’s create and market dedicated hours from 10-11 a.m. for only their senior customers. Other restaurants are partnering with local farmer’s markets to distribute excess inventory. Overlook no channels.
  • Be a part of the conversation. Your social and digital presence is critical right now. After shifting all your paid marketing and messaging to digital, Blanchette says, be sure to update your communications — and watch not only what you say, but also to whom you say it. Don’t send out spam or chain-like messaging, she explains. Instead, be hyperlocal and engage in authentic conversations with those who live near your location(s).
  • Create digital audiences with scalpel-like precision. Directly message those most likely to order delivery, online or carryout. Segment your messages to guests who have ordered from you online and from a third party; from those who have searched online for your brand; from guests in your e-club; and to look-a-like audiences who are likely to order online from your brand.

When all is said and done, Blanchette says, it’s about relationships. “We’re in this business because of the people, so do what your customers need right now — while still supporting your own people.”