How Brandon Rhoten, Chief Marketing Officer of Potbelly Sandwich Works is growing awareness through groundbreaking digital marketing strategies

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Brandon Rhoten has run the marketing for Wendy's and Papa John's and is now looking for brave marketers to help him lead the charge in growing Potbelly Sandwich Works.

Resources from this interview

[00:00:01] Speaker 1: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast where we help marketers and CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing podcast, we push beyond platitudes to deliver you real stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well, then buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite Podcast.

[00:00:32] Alex: Hey, everybody, thanks for joining Ignite. I’m really excited. Today we’ve got Brandon Rotan on the line with us today. This guy has done it all. I really appreciate his background because he’s not only had really big corporate jobs but he’s been on the dark side, on the agency side. This guy has super facts on innovation, he’s come up with some of the neatest campaigns you’ve ever heard of unless you’ve been living under a rock.

With organizations you may have heard of such as Wendy’s, Papa John’s and now at Potbelly Sandwich Works. Brandon, welcome to Ignite. Give us a little bit of a run through on how you ended up at Potbelly and then we’ll start diving into some of the marketing strategies you’ve used to become such an innovator in your space.

[00:01:12] Brandon: Well, first of all, thanks for having me. It’s awesome that people get to talk about marketing with such passion on podcasts now. You don’t see this sort of thing and in the normal media space. Thanks for having me and thanks for doing the show. It’s good to have in the world. As far as my background I actually started in marketing by accident a bit.

I was in college as a biology major and needed money essentially and in my freshman year college. I ended up taking a marketing job frankly just because I just thought it would be something fun to do. That quickly led to me working full time through college in marketing. I’ve been working full time in marketing since 1998, which led to a corporate side job where I was doing PR in very early days back when social media was essentially just blogs. I did some social media work.

That led to me getting an agency gig where I found my bearings on being a marketer working with a lot of amazing B-to-B and industrial clients at a company called Gyro based in London but [unintelligible 00:02:16] office is where the US headquarters is. Which then led me to Wendy’s somehow. I started at Wendy’s in a digital marketing role, where I was the only person who did any digital work, ended up actually over the course of a few years taking over all advertising which meant that I could actually integrate and top to bottom create campaigns that were totally socially and digitally connected.

Then that led me to Papa John’s. I didn’t spend too long a Papa John’s. The reason I started there was they wanted to do the same sort of things Wendy’s did to modernize the brand and the marketing. I was really a fit for what they were trying to do, and that led me to Potbelly. I’ve only been at Potbelly’s five or six weeks, but hit the ground running, modernizing, changing the way the marketing works.

[00:03:04] Alex: I love it. Thanks for the background there. How do you go from B-to-B industrial marketing to Wendy’s? How did that happen? Did you see the job posting and you were like, “Sure, I’ve got a lot of applicable relevant experience,” or did they reach out to you? How did you jump there?

[00:03:19] Brandon: They reached out to me and it was very strange. But I think the times back in 2009, 2010, 2011 time frame there is a lot of transition happening in marketing where digital for a lot of at least traditional brands, brands that have been around for 50, 60 years or whatever, was just starting to come on the scene, and most restaurants especially were terrible at it.

A lot of companies that their boards or their shareholders or whatever said we need to modernize our marketing, were looking outside of restaurants for people who were good at digital marketing. At that time a lot of the industrial world was very quick to this stuff because it’s techy, and it was engineers so they understood how to do things like stream audio online. They understood how to do things like buy early, early days programmatic.

We had to do a lot of thought leadership work where you’d actually publish things like white papers in digital formats and in webcast formats. They actually sought me out because they saw all the work that was happening in the digital space and my name came up in that conversation. It was really strange I was not expecting to go into food at all, but when they reached out as a guy who loves marketing and fell in love with marketing to this process, how can you not work for the brand that did Where’s The Beef?

It was just one of these things it’s like these guys thoroughly understand this. I knew there was budget, and I knew they’re willing to experiment and having a brand with an amazing story and background and amazing marketing and being able to change that into something that’s more suited for the times was sort of a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. It was super exciting to get the call and super exciting to do the work, and my team was awesome and we had awesome success and it was all awesome. It was great.

[00:05:13] Alex: Let’s talk about that awesome success because there are some learning lessons in there, I want all of my marketers to hear. One of the big campaigns was NuggsForCarter which came out of nowhere basically like the Oreo dunking in the dark at the Super Bowl. But it took a lot of work to get to the point where you guys could capitalize on that. Tell us a little bit about that campaign and then we’re going to recap there with some ideas for other marketers. How did we get to that campaign?

[00:05:37] Brandon: I would argue that was three or four years of work to get to that one moment at 10:30 at night on a Tuesday or whatever it was. We did a ton of work for six months plus on building out what is the brand’s personality, and that led us to saying, “Okay, here’s how we can express that in different channels.” We did probably a year plus of experimentation on social to figure out can we be a challenger brand like the brand was regionally founded to be in the ’80s, that’s Where the Beef came from.

Can we be a challenger brand, can we actually bring this voice to life in a modern way, through modern channels. We’ve built a team that was amazing, VML out of Kansas City, built the team for us. For social we also had internal folks that did a lot of work in social. We had a lot of misses too. I had articles written about how Wendy’s was ruining social media for corporations, how we weren’t doing the right things because we were being snarky, and we were tongue-in-cheek and we were telling jokes that brands shouldn’t tell.

I would argue actually the process to get to that NuggsForCarter moment was very painful, because nobody really had done it the way we did it. Then we had the infrastructure prepared, we had the right people in place. We had the leeway to respond when we needed to respond in a way that was compelling and interesting versus corporate and sanitized when we kind of had these moments where a snowball began to form we were able to push them and make them bigger.

There was a bunch of money put behind the effort once it started to work, but it’s backwards in the way most marketing works. Most marketing you plan things out well in advance, there’s tons of production, there’s tons of scheduling, you have media that booked months and months in advance, if not longer. Then you build everything around this moment of execution. They were like the infrastructure was put into place and then we found moments to push the infrastructure.

We didn’t have budget set aside for how much we’re going to spend to see if we can get Carter on Ellen, but once a moment emerged we did it. I would argue that it took years to build the infrastructure, to build up the team, to build rules, to build the trust in the organization with the franchisees and with hundreds of thousands of employees, to have a moment where we got to step on a big stage and knock it out of the park.

[00:07:59] Alex: It sounds like the first thing you do when you walk into any role is a ton of research. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of consumer research, a lot of brand research to see where your position and see how your customers are perceiving the brand. You did a lot of that with Wendy’s and then you went set about to hire the correct internal team but then hire an awesome agency to augment their utility.

Then of course you, guys, were really set up and you had the brand voice determined on how you wanted to speak to the market. Then you were able to take advantage of it. A lot of marketers out there just think that this stuff is going to pop up out of nowhere. It’s years of hard work of structuring teams and knowing your customers and knowing your brand that gets you to that point, right?

[00:08:36] Brandon: It totally is and, obviously, you can tweak things like media buys and there are some quick wins to be had when you join a company, but if you expect someone who comes into a company, a CMO or even just a new leader in marketing, to make changes that are significant and seriously brand building within a year, I think you’re joking yourself. It’s not possible to do enough work.

You have to do enough testing, you do enough learning to get to the point were can you affect things, can move comp sales a little bit? Sure, maybe four or five points, but you can’t build a brand. You can’t create something that is totally sustainable in a matter of weeks and months. It’s unfair for a lot of people to make the assumption that all you got to do is follow this play book. It’s not how it works. You’ve got to learn the brand, you’ve got to learn how to interact with the consumer.

[00:09:25] Alex: Wendy’s voice that you created, it’s still in play. I think I remember when I changed their name to Ihop for the burgers. They’re like Wendy’s is talking smack to them over Twitter and it’s just cracking me up, man, seeing it. A lot of the work you did has carried on and they have a voice. You were one of the first people to give a human voice to a brand and that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but it was the right move, and it’s carried through. If there can be huge innovations in marketing and one team, that one company can change the way marketing is perceived and you, guys, did that. So huge kudos. I love seeing that kind of change brought about by some really brave people. And so, Wendy’s NuggsForCarter, you, guys, win lots of awards, then we go to Papa John’s and we spend some time there. Obviously, I’m a big fan, it’s still our largest client but we’ve got a lot going on in the news. What do you make of all of this? What’s it going to take for Papa John to start beating the heck out of Domino’s and Pizza Hut?

[00:10:18] Brandon: Pizza is ultra competitive obviously. It’s one of those categories that it’s not easy to win and it takes a ton of factors going your way to win. If you look at who’s winning there, Domino’s is killing it. I think the reason Domino’s is killing it is because they are laser focused. They know what they are. They are a distribution company. So they focused on technology, they focused on everything from drone deliveries to filling potholes, it totally fulfills their purpose of we are a pizza distribution company. That is our role. I think somebody needs to win is that level of focus around something that people generally want.

If for Papa John’s or whoever they were to choose that area of focus like maybe the pizza itself or maybe some other aspect of something somebody cares about that’s where you can win. Obviously, I can’t speak too much on Papa John’s so much there anymore but in an ultra-competitive space you just have to be laser focused. I think everyone tries to mayonnaise their way through everything and do a little bit of everything, you can’t win as a marketer that way. People don’t have enough time to pay attention to you if you’re not focused.

[00:11:25] Alex: I love that. Mayonnaise your way through that. I’ve never heard that. That’s really fun. I’m going to say that to my team all the time. Our positioning is not focused enough, we’re mayonnaising our way through this, guys.


[00:11:38] Brandon: I think it’s critical in pizza space. They’ll find their footing. I’m sure Papa John’s will figure it out but it is absolutely essential for anybody in any crowded space to find their area of focus that consumers are willing to give them credit for and just beat on it constantly, and Domino’s is killing it.

[00:11:59] Alex: They’re killing it because they’ve realized they are a distribution company. Little Caesars has realized their price, Papa John’s quality but it hasn’t been communicated well enough and at [unintelligible 00:12:07] it’s the same thing. We had to decide. We were stagnating in growth few years ago. We said, “Guys, we’ve got to focus.” So we focused on restaurants and healthcare and just did what we were best at, SEO and paid media.

It’s really worked. The quality of work is better and it’s like you said, people don’t have enough time or attention to pay attention to anything that’s not really focused. Really good learning lessons there on positioning and differentiation that Brandon just gave us. We’re at Potbelly. How many locations? 400, 500? How many locations does Potbelly have?

[00:12:37] Brandon: Just shy of 500, just shy of a half billion dollars in revenue. From my previous experience it is much smaller but this is a brand that, I don’t know if you’ve been in a Potbelly before but, it’s a brand that without doubt has unique DNA in the category. You’ve got folks like Subway and Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mike’s and every sandwich

shop around the corner and a million delis all playing in the space. There’s nothing more that I love to do more than taking a brand that has a great story and has DNA that can be unique and interesting to consumers and figure out a way to break that brand out of a commoditized space and that’s exactly what we intend to do at Papa.

[00:13:18] Alex: I love it. How many of those 500 stores or so are franchise versus corporate owned?

[00:13:24] Brandon: Today, it’s only 40 or 50 franchise, the majority is corporate owned which gives me a lot of flexibility to play and learn on the corporate dime versus a franchisee’s dime, but I would expect to see most of our growth coming from franchise locations in the near future. As we reestablish the brand, as we get it growing again it’s going to be the sort of brand that will be very attractive to franchisees.

[00:13:49] Alex: I love it. Did I read on Wikipedia, is it correct you, guys, have a location in Dubai?

[00:13:53] Brandon: Yes, there is and I think back in the fast casual restaurant craze everyone was throwing a location in London, Dubai, all this stuff and I think that’s where that came from, was that was the cool thing to do potentially. Right now we’re focused on the States, that’s going to be the majority of our attention. There’s 500 there should be a lot more and there’s a lot of potential to grow in the US. Then we’ll talk about going to crazy places outside the US.

[00:14:18] Alex: Yes, after you’ve established yourself. 50 of them franchised, how many do we want to get to the next let’s say by end of 2019 and what parts of the country?

[00:14:26] Brandon: I think you look at the typical restaurant distribution. You need a good penetration per city to actually have effective marketing to have effective distribution, all that sort of thing so what the team is doing right now we just hired a guy who he actually started just before I did, who helped expand Yum Brands and a few others, and he’s looking city to city to say what is the optimal kind of level of Potbelliness within the city.

I won’t put a specific number to it but it’s in the thousands that we think is possible. I don’t think it’s 7,000 or 8,000 in the US necessarily if it’s not anytime soon but I doubt we’re going to be as liquid as some of the really big chains. But we do need an effective footprint per city. Look in Chicago, there’s over 100 Potbellies in Chicago and the brand does really well in Chicago partially because of that penetration.

I think either you’re going to see us in the low thousands in the not terribly distant future but we do have to prove out that this brand is unique and interesting to consumers and can create some momentum in and of itself and can grow, and then the growth will come. We’re not rushing it. Nobody’s saying we’ve got to open 100 stores tomorrow. We want to get the brand right and then let the actual organic growth of each individual restaurant drive the desire to expand.

[00:15:40] Alex: It sounds like it’s a land to expand. Get into a geographic area then get to some plateau some amount of stores to where you have a good amount of stores there, to where you’re getting brand recognition. Then you mentioned to grow organically at each store are you going to supplement that with any digital advertising? What are you going to do to expedite growth or awareness in these newer markets?

[00:16:02] Brandon: Some of that homework that starts up front, is like what is the marketing problem that we have to actually go solve? I think if you haven’t heard of Potbelly that’s a good example of what our problem is. The brand really hasn’t had a unique way to express itself at scale for people to really connect with the brand. If you’ve been in one, generally people like it. They just forget it exists. In a very crowded market we’ve got some work to do to create a needed awareness, to create sticky awareness. Something that people will actually remember this is a brand that’s for them and a brand that is relevant for eating lunch.

We’ve got some work to do specifically to create some awareness. For that, normally most brands I’ve worked on it’s actually a consideration issue. You’re not generally dealing with an awareness issue like at Wendy’s, for example, it was 99% awareness. You don’t necessarily need awareness there. You need to change people’s minds and shift their behavior versus just tell them it exists and why they should care.

I’ve got some work to do to build awareness and the brand has up to this point really not invested heavily in marketing in general. It was a bit from the whole you build it they will come mentality that happened years ago in a lot of fast casuals. We do have to, one, define what makes us unique and interesting, do a lot of testing to learn what are the channels to communicate that effectively to consumers so they believe it and they’re willing to show up, and then we’ll begin scaling that.

Part of the reason that the team brought me on at Potbelly is that I’m pretty good at spending other people’s money and that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to invest in marketing. Our shareholders, our board, our senior leadership team all knows we actually have to grow this thing and it’s going to require investment in marketing. We’ve just got to learn how to do it in an efficient effective way versus just go buy the naming and rights to something or whatever. Yes, we’ve got some work to do on awareness but really a lot of testing between now and then to learn what is the right way to generate that sticky awareness that we need.

[00:17:54] Alex: You’re in the fun time where you get everything is unknown to you and your team, and you get to try a whole bunch of stuff and spend a whole bunch of money and find out what works and test and repeat. That’s a fun time. Well, I look forward to everybody learning more about Potbelly. It sounds like in Chicago it’s almost going to be more of a consideration play than awareness.

I love hearing you explaining the difference between awareness and consideration. A lot of marketers don’t realize that’s a different mentality and a different tactic that would necessitate a different marketing strategy depending on what you’re trying to do there. Let me ask you a question that’s been on my mind. Does Potbelly use UberEats DoorDash?

[00:18:33] Brandon: We do and we have some formal relationships and some informal relationships there. We actually deliver ourselves during lunch because we have a lot of downtown city locations, but, yes, we do.

[00:18:46] Alex: How do you see it? Do you see UberEats and DoorDash, these third party delivery apps, do they help extend your reach? Do they help sales? Do they hurt? Because we’ve got so many more competitors at our fingertip, how do you see it going?

[00:19:00] Brandon: I think the consumer-driven change of I want what I want when I want it, driven by Amazon Prime culture, is real. I think just recognizing starting first with what is actually the desire from a consumer that is being fulfilled, absolutely it’s I want what I want when I want it. I don’t just want pizza delivered to my house. If I want a Potbelly sandwich or a cheeseburger I want that option.

I think we have to recognize that’s true and then we have to recognize that the growing consumer base of millennials and Zs they’ve lived with that almost their entire lives, of this today free shipping thing has been around since you were a kid. The instant gratification get me what I want when I want it is a real thing. If we just assume that for a second and then we say is that good or bad for restaurants, I think it all depends on how you play. I think it all depends on whether or not you have a good relationship with these providers and they actually deliver your product in a positive way for the consumer.

Because, ultimately, at Wendy’s for example, we did a deal with DoorDash and still has a deal with DoorDash that’s significant, I can’t say whether it is incremental or not but I can absolutely tell you that it is a positive thing for the brand to have that distribution on that didn’t exist before. I can tell you that generally when people are in these apps, when they are [unintelligible 00:20:22] or whatever, they are loyal more to the platform even than they are to a lot of the brands.

They get used to using that mechanism for getting their food. I’ve done a bunch at Wendy’s and Papa John’s and now at Potbelly with these guys and I do think it’s a good thing for consumers and I think its a good thing for brands. We just need to set up some rules of the road so product is still good because that’s hard. Fries turn to mush and a shake doesn’t last if you’re 20 minutes away delivering it. It’s also got to be beneficial to the restaurant.

You know this very well, restaurants have very slim margins and when a brand takes 15%, 20%, 25%, which in a lot of these cases these partners aggregators do that. That’s really hard to create an economic model that makes sense. I think there’s going to have to be a bit of compromise when it comes to who is paying for what and ultimately we don’t want to jack our prices and you are paying $20 for a sandwich. There’s got to be some sort of balance there. None of these guys right now are really making money. There’s got to eventually be a reckoning where some of these distribution partners are going to need to eventually turn a profit or they are going to go away.

[00:21:41]  Alex: They are going to have to consolidate.

[00:21:43] Brandon: It’s complicated right now but I think the desire from consumers is real and it’s justified. I have it. You probably have it.


[00:21:51] Alex: big fan.

[00:21:52] Brandon: It’s huge. It’s awesome. Whenever there’s an unmet consumer need the market finds a way and I think we just haven’t quite figured out how exactly how that’s done profitably and effectively yet. I think it will get figured out in the next few years.

[00:22:06] Alex: You made an interesting point that the loyalty is now going to the apps, not to the brands. That’s really interesting. That means the quality has got to be top notch. Every time someone is receiving a pot belly sandwich from Uber Eats, he’s got to be like, “Holly shit. This is way better than Fire House or Jersey Mikes.”

[00:22:18] Brandon: You’re totally right, and the placement in those apps matters and it’s huge in places like Asia. You go to China and it immediately opens up doors that just didn’t exist before. Your brand grows like a weed if you do that effectively in a place like Asia. In the US and cities it makes a big difference. In the suburbs it can be less depending on where you’re at. I still think there’s a lot to be ironed out but I think consumer need is very real which means it’s going to stick around. The question is what form does it take.

[00:22:47] Alex: Yes, and there is going to have to be a balancing out of profit margins and things like that. We are going to have to work with those third party aggregators to get things a little more balanced. They can’t keep taking 15% – 20% on a low margin business. That will be interesting to see how that goes. Let me ask you something that’s on a lot of peoples minds. Voice search. Everybody is saying it’s going to be ubiquitous, it’s going to be 50% of searches by 2020. Do you see people ordering sandwiches into their phone or saying “Hey, Alexa, order me my favorite Potbelly sandwich and have it delivered.” Do you see that happening? Are you, guys, preparing for that?

[00:23:16] Brandon: We are working in a world where that is a good possibility. I don’t know. I’m a big fan of Roy’s search stuff. We have Echoes in pretty much every room in the house just because [unintelligible 00:23:28] uses intercoms and playing music and all that stuff, I think actually it’s amazing technology. I do think though there’s a visual aspect of food that’s not served there very well. So if it becomes a reoccurring moment or just like send three pizzas my normal order, or send me my sandwich, I think there’s a possibility there but food is a very visual [unintelligible 00:23:50].

To me its hard until you have a better way to make choices like if you want mushrooms or not. It’s complicated to order food if you are even slightly picky and voice doesn’t lend itself to anything that’s not really simple. At least not yet.

[00:24:08] Alex: Until it improves and then it says, “Brandon, I remember you don’t like mushrooms. Would you like me to take those off this order?” And you’re like, “Hell, yeah, mushrooms are disgusting.”


[00:24:17] Brandon: That’s right. At some point the robots will outsmart us and they’ll figure out how to make it work.

[00:24:20] Alex: Well, they’re listening right now to everything. My wife was totally creeped out. I put Echoes in every room because we are getting ready for voice search that our clients are asking us about and she’s totally uncomfortable with this. It’s like, well, let’s stop talking about our confidential business ideas around these Echoes.

[00:24:37] Brandon: It’s a brave new world but I do think you’re right. It is a place that is real and I also think it’s like any new medium. There’s going to be forays inot it that are you’re dipping your toe in. Even listening to Spotify through an Echo, provides opportunities for advertisers to do different things than you would have in a car listening on a radio. I think marketers and brands will experiment a bit and find the easy ways in and as the technology improves and as people get used to the technology it will change a lot. But I’m going to tell you, Siri is awesome but it’s a bit of a novelty for most people. It has to continue to improve otherwise I think it will be left behind.

[00:25:26] Brandon: Yes, she screws up my text messages all the time and then there ends up being a, “Damn it, Siri,” being sent to the person right after.

[00:25:35] Brandon: How many meetings are you in when all of a sudden Siri just starts talking randomly. It just needs to continue to improve. It’s exciting technology. I think it will be a thing but I don’t think it’s quite perfect for brands yet. It makes a lot of sense if you have reoccurring purchases or purchases that are very simple. That I get it for. But customizing a sandwich that’s a little-

[00:25:55] Alex: That’s not going to happen quite yet. All right, cool. Well, I’m glad. Thanks for sharing your insights. Everybody is wondering and I’ve got to speak on it next week so I’m actually going to steal your ideas and put them in the deck.


One more question. When you are managing your managing your marketing teams, I’ve got a lot of marketing associates, specialists, managers looking to move up, and I want them to hear from you. What does it take, what do you look for when you’re looking to hire a marketer into one of your teams? What’s that twinkle? What’s that quality you’re looking for?

[00:26:24] Brandon: I’m looking for someone who is brave and I don’t say that to be grandiose. I mean genuinely I want somebody who is going to get the brand noticed. That is the primary thing I’m interested in. Khaki kills brands. It just does. If somebody isn’t brave, not brave enough to stand up for an idea, to stand up for the team, to stand up for agency’s work, to stand up for a media plan, to stand up for an investment, to suggest something that has been done before but maybe wasn’t done effectively, then I am totally disinterested in that person.

Process is important but if all you’re about is process and playing it safe and you’re not interested in the reward and you’re not interested in genuinely creating a unique brand that people care about, I don’t want to talk to you. The best people I have ever worked for, the best hires I’ve ever made have been some of the bravest people that I’ve had to defend to boards and to management because they sometimes do things that pushes the bounds. I’m not saying being reckless, I’m not saying do things that are inappropriate. I’m not saying any of that. But brave matters in marketing. There are not a lot of brave marketers and that’s a shame. I think that’s why most brands are boring because people try to play it safe.

[00:27:39] Alex: That’s probably because most people are boring.


[00:27:42] Brandon: You might be right. I think most people are just scared and it seems strange but most people just want to keep their jobs. If you are afraid of being fired everyday, then I think you can’t do your best work. I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of really really smart people and a lot of awesome creative people, and I’m not seeking out for them to come to me for advise or anything but when they have asked what’s the thing I should do I say put $100,000 in the bank.

I’m not kidding. Put a bunch of money in the bank so you can be brave. So if you get fired you can coast for two years as a freelancer. You can go and do you’re own thing. If you are not brave, you cannot make your brand interesting and that is the thing that separates great brands from boring brands and brands that eventually go away.

[00:28:32] Alex: Man, you got me excited. I want to come work for you. That was awesome. No khaki, no mayonnaise. You guys heard it here first. This guy wants mustard. I love it.

[00:28:43] Brandon: Spicy peppers are ideal. That’s really the perfect thing.

[00:28:47] Alex: I love it. That’s really good. I’ve asked that question to a lot of people and that may be my favorite answer that I’ve ever received. Bravery. Someone that’s willing to break things, fix them, put them back together in a new way. Someone that’s willing to get fired because he or she has $100,000 in the bank and can take that risk. I love that. Brandon, this has been hugely helpful from your insights on the difference between awareness and consideration.

What it takes to work on your team, voice search, what you think about third party aggregators and how you get prepared for a moment like Nuggs For Carter. Brandon, this has been hugely helpful and insightful to our listeners. We thank you so much. Thanks for coming on to Ignite.

[00:29:21] Brandon: No problem. Thanks for having me, Alex.

[00:29:24] Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review. Before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips on restaurant online reputation management, make sure you visit Have a great rest of the day and don’t forget that the most important part of your job to ignite [unintelligible 00:29:50].

[00:29:52] [END OF AUDIO]

Brandon Rhoten, Chief Marketing Officer of Potbelly Sandwich

Alex Membrillo


Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).

Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership, being consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies for the last three years. Membrillo’s innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. He has been featured in leading national publications including The Business Journals, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, and Vistage Executive Leaders, where he spoke on his unique approach to Millennial Management to over 400 CEOs.

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