Q&A with “Change Agent” Lisa Dimson, CMO at Your Pie Pizza, Part 1

Q&A with

Words like disruption and change are regular parts of Lisa Dimson’s vocabulary. The CMO of fast-casual pizza brand Your Pie believes that her job is to be a change agent who leads the brand’s marketing team to reach customers and drive results.

“Whether it’s innovation in our go-to-market approach or creating new experiences that the customer embraces, we seek ways to bring new products or experiences forward,” she says.

Dimson had 15 years of experience in marketing and related positions when she joined Your Pie in October 2019. Before that, she had served in leadership positions with Yum! Brands, Arby’s, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. At Your Pie, she wasted no time retooling the company’s marketing strategy and brand development and homed in on leveraging technological innovation to raise brand awareness and increase sales.

“We are always looking for the best ways to connect and build relationships with our consumers,” she says. “Maximizing first-party data gives us the best lens for understanding their needs and experiences, allowing us to enhance how we serve our guests.”

For Dimson, the customer is king. “If the entire organization isn’t focused on the customer, we won’t be the brand of choice for consumers,” she says. “Whether they choose to join us around the table or crave the convenience of online ordering, pickup, or delivery, we want them to choose the experience that’s right for them in the moment.”

Describe your role as CMO. My role as the CMO is in great transition. I’m a change agent, charged to scale our strategic marketing efforts to drive results. Leading the brand strategy requires a new level of alertness because of the fast-changing marketplace that has propelled dynamic opportunities. While I lead brand strategy, media, digital/ecommerce, social, creative, PR, and customer acquisition and retention, the role demands how we do business to rapidly evolve with our guests. This requires agility and cross-functional synergy to accelerate business growth. The marketing spirit is to challenge the status quo in our highly disrupted environment and move quickly to analyze new strategies and tactics. Ultimately, we want to be your local go-to for customers desiring delicious pizza and great service.

What’s the most challenging part of being a CMO today? Serving is what we do, whether it’s delicious pizza, a great customer experience, or making a difference in our communities. Our ability to tell our stories is a necessity. We have to ensure we’re creating engagement and experiences that reflect our culture, values, and of course our craft, while influencing how we fit into today’s consumer lifestyle. And while we yearn for a return to normalcy, the reality of uncertainty is always top of mind. Recovery and resilience in an industry that was strongly affected by Covid has not been easy. It requires listening and analyzing our evolving customer need states, which has led to rebuilding our marketing engine. The pandemic advanced our future planned go-to-market strategies into “now” strategies, and the speed to deliver required grit and hustle.

How has Covid-19 affected how you have led your brand’s marketing efforts? Consumers are socializing, engaging, and behaving differently than ever before. Rapidly evolving new customer journeys require resource shifts to support new consumer behaviors. Disruption forced rethinking the budget to maximize effectiveness in key channels with heightened attention on technology and digital transformation. We are using data in smarter ways to help problem-solve and to improve how we answer the questions consumers have when selecting a meal solution. The Great Resignation affected all areas of our business: our restaurant teams, supply chain, partner resources, and support teams. Our teams and restaurants have worked hard over the last few years. Consumers have also gone through so much change and uncertainty. Through storytelling and enhancing our brand experience, marketing continues to seek ways to inspire and look for ways to bring back the “fun” in pizza and perhaps make that moment in time better.

What are the 3 most important keys to being an effective CMO leader today? 1) Connection. We serve our guests and communities every day. The ability to connect and care about all facets of your ecosystem is critical. These interactions ultimately translate to connecting with your customer in providing a great experience and results. 2) Business IQ. The push-and-pull of business requires a leader who understands how to set and meet business objectives and goals to drive profitable shareholder value. Understanding how to measure, analyze, and affect results is key to achieving success. 3) Catalyst for change. It’s exciting to be a change agent! Whether it’s innovation in our go-to-market approach or creating new experiences the customer embraces, we continue to seek new ways to bring new products or experiences forward. Staying relevant is the baseline; pushing forward is a must to being effective.

How do you prepare a marketing plan and execute the strategies? The marketing plan supports the brand’s overall business operating plan and goals. We use key data to inform the marketing plan and customer journeys. To monitor performance, we set road maps and review key metrics to measure results.

How do you measure marketing results and effectiveness? By their ability to hit strategic business objectives and goals that drive growth and profitability. From a marketing perspective, the key areas of measurement are those that drive an audience outcome leading to transactions and sales. They are rooted in awareness, engagement, conversion, and customer experience.

Discuss your core consumer marketing strategies and objectives. We focus on attracting and retaining customer loyalty in our growing digital spaces, as well as on providing the best in-store experience. Understanding the customer journey and seeking ways to intersect in their micro-moments is core to our marketing strategy. It’s in those micro-moments that we increase awareness and influence engagement, while ultimately trying to incorporate positive disruption into their daily lives. In addition, we assess how we can reduce friction in their journey. The reduction of friction can be achieved only by a system that embraces a vision using the voice of the consumer and data to guide change. When you can remove friction, the overall experience for the customer is better. Consumers remember great experiences and frequent places that can deliver them.

How do you go about creating a customer-centric marketing and brand philosophy? Our go-to-market strategy is always anchored through the lens of the consumer. The filter that fuels decision-making is greatly aligned with the guest in mind. If we aren’t meeting them where they are, the effort is not worth the investment.

Part 2: Dimson’s marketing team, working with development, tech tools, data use, social media, advice to aspiring CMOs, more

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