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Listening, Learning, Leading

Adaptability and communication — both internally and externally — buoy performance marketers Shop LC and The Habit Burger Grill as they navigate the coronavirus.

By Thomas Haire

Click here to read this feature from the December 2020 issue of Results Magazine via our digital publication website or simply scroll down to continue reading here.

From the middle of March forward, the Performance-Driven Marketing Institute (PDMI) has — like its members — had to shift many facets of its business and remain flexible as the roller-coaster news cycle has taken us on a wild ride. As the coronavirus crisis completely upended many businesses — and the summer’s social justice protests and the fall’s presidential election each added to the discord — we, like you, have strived to find stable ground for our current and prospective customers (members and targets, alike).

The PDMI’s members provide a wide variety of perspectives on the current status of the performance and direct-to-consumer marketing world. It’s those varied voices that have helped us transition — in part — from two major in-person events that were scuttled by the pandemic to an ongoing series of virtual events that serve all in this diverse industry.

During those events — our PDMI Virtual Summit in June, our PDMI West Virtual event in September, and our regularly scheduled Seasonal Seminar Series and Take 20 webinars — our goal is to share our members’ expertise, mixed together with important voices from outside the membership.

In the spirit of that goal — and as part of this year-end package focused on learnings from 2020 and expectations for 2021 — we asked some of the experts who have spoken as part of the PDMI’s virtual education calendar to address a brief set of questions.

A pair of leaders — Amit Agarwal, president of Austin, Texas-based Shop LC, and Burge Diemer, vice president of brand marketing for Yum! Brands’ The Habit Burger Grill — stepped up to share their feedback and their vision. Agarwal spoke at our PDMI Virtual Summit, while Diemer has been part of our Take 20 webinar series, created by the PDMI Brand Response Council.

As 2020 comes to an end, what do you consider the two biggest moments for your business in reacting to and living with the coronavirus crisis?

Amit Agarwal, Shop LC: The first would be our team’s ability to quickly react and prepare while our local government ordered businesses and staff to stay home.

The second: our ability to anticipate the essential needs of our elderly customers and provide them with access to critical merchandise to support them through this pandemic.

Burge Diemer, The Habit Burger Grill/Yum! Brands: As a fast-casual restaurant brand, our No. 1 priority has been to keep our employees and guests safe by implementing various safety measures.

Consumers are looking for a contactless experience, so we leaned heavily into digital order channels, such as mobile app and third-party delivery. We rapidly launched a very successful curbside pick-up program to offer our guests the ability to order ahead via our mobile app and have the food delivered to their cars.

With many shifting to a work-at-home environment, how were you challenged by managing your team from home? What solutions are working to motivate yourself and others? And what steps can you continue to take to avoid burnout in the new environment?

Agarwal: Our biggest challenge was not shifting to a work-at-home environment, but more so staying connected in a way that was meaningful. Our IT team was able to quickly identify work-at-home needs for each employee and accommodate them with very little downtime — if any — to the business.