Episode 289: Marketing in the Shifting Restaurant Industry With Jen Kern of Qu

Episode Summary

When COVID-19 hit, most marketers — especially those in the foodservice space — feared for the future of their industry. Jen Kern, CMO at Qu, an enterprise restaurant chain POS platform, saw an opportunity to reshape the way she markets to customers.

She listened to her customers’ needs, focusing on earning their trust when they needed it most. Though Jen doesn’t use annual marketing plans, 70% of the marketing budget was in events — so she had to quickly pivot Qu’s marketing efforts. That meant switching content plans, among other efforts. Qu’s marketing team created a COVID survival kit and a blog post about how restaurants can optimize their online menus for COVID.

“Doing things that are going to be helpful — and that’s the whole premise of inbound marketing … is helping and educating your buyer — not selling,” says Jen.

In this episode of Tech Qualified, Jen goes into detail about how Qu shifted marketing plans to reflect the realities of the pandemic, which included launching an online ordering product that restaurants of all types can access and an initiative pairing restaurants with local first responders for food delivery.

Plus, she discusses her top tips for success in marketing. “Listen to your gut. That’s the best advice I could give to marketers,” Jen says.

Guest Profile


Key Insights

Episode Highlights

“[W]e build POS systems for restaurants and you can imagine our world has completely flipped upside down in the COVID days … Our vision has always been to take the hardware and the POS out of the middle of the equation and make it more about the customer engagement and that ordering process as seamless as possible.”
“[B]ack in the nineties … everybody wanted to be a trusted advisor … but actions speak louder than words … So I just really challenged myself every day to make sure our messaging, the things that people are seeing on social channels and the emails we send aren’t overdoing it and that each message is really thoughtful.”
“[T]he whole plan that I had for Q1 completely, pretty much went out the window as soon as COVID hit. We have 70% of our budget in events … So we didn’t rush too fast, but we did come up with what I mentioned, which is what we call order up, [an] online ordering product and it works.”

“[W]e created a COVID survival kit for restaurants and we got that live a couple of weeks ago and we wrote a blog about how to optimize your menu for COVID. [We’re] doing things that are going to be helpful — and that’s the whole premise of inbound marketing … is helping and educating your buyer — not selling,”

“I have to put time on my calendar to take breaks. I can’t emphasize enough to marketers how important it is to step away … I’m doing things like eating well, meditating, taking time to exercise … When I step away and then come back, I work better the rest of the day. I have better ideas.”

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