How to drive them from the pump to inside a c-store

Roadrunner Markets is a leading convenience store (c-store) chain in the mountains of Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia. Like every other c-store, the challenge is to drive business from a low-margin tank of gas inside their store for higher margin purchases.

For Creative Energy, part of the solution was a look at Roadrunner’s customers and what they are packing in their pocketbook or in their pocket.

Yes, part of the solution is in-store specials promoted at the pump, window clings and other signage. Our approach included social media and a website, but our most vibrant response was to recommend the relatively low-tech medium of texting.

Before you say, “texting is so 1990s,” stick with me. A look at market penetration of smartphones in Roadrunner’s market area found that up to 40 percent of consumers are still using conventional cell phones with texting capabilities. Texting would work on smartphones, but texting would also include the 40 percent of the population who still rely on old school cell phones. If we promoted an unbelievable deal at least once a week through texting and the c-store’s facebook community, could we move the in-store sales needle? We proposed the concept to President Ryan Broyles and Chief Operating Officer John Kelly and got the nod.

John proposed a Roadrunner Tuesday morning special, delivered at 7 a.m. with a crazy great offer, including freebies, BOGOs or deep discounts. The tactic offered three benefits. We would promote the habit of coming into the c-store to purchase anything from coffee to crackers. Secondarily, the free or deeply discounted item would be offset by additional purchases made by the customer. Plus, because teens were the busiest at texting, we could promote the habit of coming into a Roadrunner for life.

First, we had to build a significant texting community to make it worth the effort and the discounts. We developed high-impact graphics promoting the texting campaign and its benefits. Then, we used five-second television commercials in the market with giant graphics promoting the text number to opt in to weekly text alerts. The response?

Today, nearly 20,000 consumers are part of the texting program. Nearly 4,000 more are plugged into Roadrunner’s Facebook community. The campaign has morphed into a weekly tradition that welcomes Roadrunner Market customers bright and early every Tuesday morning. Sales lift and improved average ticket rings for in-store purchases are the payoff for the old-school technology of texting.