At-Work Perks

Exclusive offers, presented only to program recipients, help make Blimpie’s work-site marketing a success.

As word of impressive redemption rates spreads, more retailers and restaurateurs may abandon their freestanding newspaper inserts and Val-Pak mailings in favor of a more direct, and markedly successful, approach: work-site marketing.

Workplace marketing materials, distributed directly to at-work employees, are enabling retail and foodservice companies to target consumers where they work—and the results of such pinpointed marketing efforts are stimulating. When Patrick Meglio, CEO of National Branded Concepts—the area developer for Blimpie in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and WOW Cafe and Wingery in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia—first tested a work-site marketing program in 2004 for a select group of his 48 Blimpie restaurants, the numbers raised his eyebrows.

“The initial test, implemented with WorkPlace Media, was with 17 restaurants,” Meglio explained. “The tracking was done in two ways: First, we used WorkPlace to collect and track what coupons were redeemed at the 17 units and, second, my operations team tracked the weekly sales year-to-date at the units that participated in the test.

“Astonishingly,” continued Meglio, “the participating units were collectively up an average of 18%, in comparison with the stores that didn’t participate.”

WorkPlace Media, based in Mentor, Ohio, clearly has figured out how to effectively market to the at-work consumer. For the initial test and for ongoing Blimpie work-site marketing programs, the marketing-solutions firm delivers exclusive offers to identified businesses within its WorkPlace Host Employer Network.

“Our delivery mechanism is certainly less traditional than typical mass-marketing efforts,” said Dan Wheeler, executive VP of WorkPlace Media. “Special, exclusive offers, available nowhere else, are either delivered to employees with their paychecks or, if the employer has electronic payroll processing, human resources hand-delivers the certificates to them.”

The employer network contains nearly 1 million businesses across the country, and it is the direct, personal presentation to the employees within those businesses that makes the program work, said Wheeler.

“The understanding that we have with our host employers is that in exchange for receiving special, exclusive offers from our client advertisers, they in turn agree to distribute those offers to their employees as rewards or perks for working there,” Wheeler said. “That’s really the biggest part of the success—the personal presentation of an offer that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Based on the success of the initial tests, Blimpie rolled out regional and national WorkPlace Print Media programs in predetermined radii around restaurant locations, with exclusive offers to employees in the WorkPlace Network partner businesses in each area.

“Our same-store sales are currently up 20% chainwide since we started using WorkPlace back in September 2004, again [with another program] in February 2005, and again in September 2005,” said Meglio.

Those kinds of numbers make program continuation likely.

“The Washington/Baltimore Advertising Co-op, Inc., which has voting rights to the advertising and marketing for Blimpie in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia metro market, has voted to do two WorkPlace drops for three consecutive years,” said Meglio. “I don’t see any reason why they would not approve it again for 2007. Our coop meeting is set for February, and WorkPlace is the No. 1 item on the agenda.”

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