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Does Denny’s have the ultimate recipe for online marketing success?


Denny’s is America’s breakfast diner of choice. But it also seems to have got the recipe right (excuse the pun) when it comes to serving up (I can’t stop!) excellent online content that gets its audience’s mouths watering and coming back for more! But what exactly has it done and are there some real world lessons for the rest of us?

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan fulfills the role of Lead Digital Marketer for Deloitte Consulting's Technology division where... More

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Denny’s was going through a bit of a revenue slump a few years back until it hired Frances Allen as the franchise’s chief marketing officer.

When Allen arrived, one of her first self-made goals was to reposition Denny’s as “America’s Diner” as she felt, and the numbers showed, that Denny’s was no longer relevant or resonating with its primary audience, even though it (Denny’s) was an American icon.

One of Denny’s strategies was to use a local American comedian to sit and interview a host of American celebrities (unscripted). These interviews were then recorded and packaged as short videos which were shared on the Denny’s website as well as a few other video sharing platforms.

The intention of these video’s was to focus the viewer’s attention that Denny’s was “always open” – not necessarily 24 hours a day open – but open in the honesty sense of the phrase.

These were conversations held in a diner — conversations that anyone of Denny’s customers could feel comfortable having in one of its diners.

The six videos that were put together generated in excess of 6-million views.

In an interview with eMarketer, Allen went on to say that the company needed to take its campaigns directly to its target markets and primary audiences.

The initial video campaigns were targeted at all their audiences across the board, but resonated especially well with millenials (due to the online nature of the campaign).

Another element of Denny’s marketing was targeted specifically to Hispanics where the content of its “Skillet Whisperer” campaign was not simply translated.

The content was aimed specifically at Hispanics so that they saw immediately that Denny’s was speaking directly to them and not just as a matter of course.

Allen also said that the company was incredibly vigilant in ensuring that its marketing efforts were not channel-specific and that they were sure to integrate all messages across all platforms.

This has yielded such success for Denny’s that no one channel is receiving less of the budget than before – because all channels are working together.

The major lessons we can learn here are:

  1. Know your audience well
  2. Integrate your marketing efforts
  3. Don’t alienate a channel

It doesn’t matter what kind of company you are; these lessons are true across the marketing gambit and will help you yield success.