Where’s the Beef? Lessons for B2B Sellers and Marketers from Arby’s®

By Warren Shiver on May 11, 2018

2 Minute Estimated Read Time

As a proud card-carrying member of Generation X, I distinctly remember the classic Wendy’s® commercials with actress Clara Peller asking “where’s the beef?” Yes, those were the days when we actually watched commercials on TV… and watched broadcast TV outside of live events.

If you’ve watched any broadcasted events lately, especially sports, you can’t help but notice the long-running (by today’s marketing standards) advertising campaign from Arby’s® claiming “We Have The Meats®”. Admittedly, your author hasn’t frequented an Arby’s® lately, but I can’t help but applaud their creativity and especially their focus on a core and differentiated value proposition. I haven’t seen the data, but I’m guessing there is a strong overlap between those who religiously tune into live sports and carnivores.

What can those of us in the B2B world learn from this great marketing?

  • Define the Ideal Customer: Mapping out target customers and defining personas was first used extensively in B2C businesses but has also been core to B2B sales and marketing for years. Note that in the many versions of Arby’s campaign, there are no people – just sandwiches and a voice-over.
  • Craft a Simple Message: Tons of effort and dollars are invested in messaging, collateral and training for sales teams to deliver your company’s message. Your customer can’t be “challenged” if they’re asleep. Certainly the KISS principle applies…
  • Be Creative and Different: Tom Martin, who is an advisor to us and many in the sales effectiveness and training space, pushes us to avoid the “plague of sameness” (check out his blog on this topic). It’s easy to find consumer examples, but there have been plenty from B2B ranging from Sun Microsystems' “We put the dot in dot com” 20 years ago to GE's "Imagination at Work".
  • Rinse and Repeat – You can insert your own statistic here about how many times something must be “heard” to resonate and also activate recall.

Easy to say, harder to do. We continually work on this ourselves. Push yourself to do better. Is anyone in the US unaware of what Arby’s® offers?

Shout out to Paul Brown, Rob Lynch and the entire Arby’s® team. After launching this message and campaign in 2016, Arby’s® same store sales rose 3.6% in 2017 and overall revenues are on track to hit $4B in 2018. Quite the turnaround from when Arby’s® was sold to Roark Capital for $130M cash (plus $190M in assumed debt) in 2011.[1]

Where’s the beef? It’s at Arby’s®.

[1] http://fortune.com/2017/01/25/arbys-has-the-meats-and-a-winning-formula/ 

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Warren Shiver

Written by Warren Shiver

Warren Shiver is the founder and managing partner of Symmetrics Group, a management consultancy focused on end to end improvement in sales force effectiveness. Through Warren’s leadership, Symmetrics Group has helped numerous organizations build high-performing sales teams focused on the right go-to-market strategy, disciplined sales process and well-designed enabling tools. Clients and consultants appreciate Warren’s uncompromising focus on quality and measureable impact and how he embodies the firm’s core values.

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