Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has paved the way for a new kind of product roll-out that has proven engagement among the most loyal of customers. How did they do it?
Build a powerful online community and drive them into a store, add a secret code word and literally a new secret sauce. Soulman’s newest menu item, Frontier Fries, are only the second new menu item in the last 18 years of Soulman’s more than 40-year history. A week before public release of the new dish, loyal fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were invited to come in and mention the code word for early access.
Brett Randle, CEO of Soulman’s, explains, “No discount, no freebies, just insider early access to a secret new item. The code word video garnered over 76,000 views and reached over 120,000 users. We were very excited to use video to reach this particular audience because they exhibit high engagement on a daily basis. The 7-day early release resulted in a lift in traffic, 50-plus in-store mentions of the code word and a great start to early sales.”
The social media team (including Denise Eiser, Mike Hartnett and Emily Gass) behind the screen know that the Soulman’s audience is incredibly engaged and dedicated to the brand. On Facebook alone they number more than 25,000. They like and share posts, and comment in brand voice. In other words, they’re the perfect audience for a sneak peek product promotion. Because they’re diehards, they love the opportunity to feel more connected with Soulman’s, and they want to talk about their love of meat. As a result, a “top secret” early release led to tons of excitement among the fan base, but also the urge to share that insider knowledge with others.
Randle adds, “Frontier fries isn’t a product release for the sake of attention. Soulman’s does simple, honest food well, and we felt like that positioned us particularly well for a promotion like this, because fans know we’ve got something delicious coming their way, rather than something flashy. In other words, nobody’s going to roll their eyes at this and think there’s no substance behind it. Soulman’s has built brand equity to guarantee that we will deliver.”
Eiser concludes, “Now that the secret is out of the bag, we are continuing to use online video to publicize the new dish and drive in-store demand. Our engaged early-adapter audience is now helping Soulman’s spread the word about the new item, and we’re giving them compelling and fun branded videos to share with their networks, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional TV ads.”
For more than 40 years, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has satisfied the hardest to please barbecue lovers…Texans! Their selections of meats are cooked “low and slow” over hickory in a time-honored tradition: beef brisket, ham, hot links, sausage, turkey, chicken, pulled pork and, the crowd favorite, ribs. Ranch House Beans and Spicy Cream Corn are among the delicious homemade sides. Soulman’s currently owns and operates 14 North and East Texas locations in Cedar Hill, Forney, Garland, Greenville, Hurst, Lancaster, Mesquite, Quinlan, Rockwall (2), Royse City, Terrell, Van and Allen. To learn more about Soulman’s Bar-B-Que, visit them online at http://www.soulmans.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/soulmansbbq.