By: Savannah Arnold
To kick off the semester, this week’s Friday speaker session featured Todd Miller, the Director of Digital Marketing Strategy and Solutions at a Philly favorite: Wawa. Miller first spoke of his personal experiences in business, and his journey to finding a career that challenged him, yet suited him. Once employed at Blockbuster video store, he decided to pursue his college degree at Kutztown University, ultimately finding his niche regarding old-school advertising. Beyond that point, he combined his love of art and problem-solving business skills and implemented them into a wide variety of projects, from designing the first website for Elmo to contributing to the launch of the South Park brand. He independently ventured out into business and branding, then creating his own marketing firm, ‘Archer Group.’ Then, he began his roots at Wawa, where he became a marketing consultant for the company for ten years.
A vital theme of Miller’s personal story was the emphasis on flexibility. He stressed that everybody should know what they want, in order to find a career that includes one’s personal principles. He then urged to not take a job purely for its financial benefits, advising to set money aside. Miller then played the iconic Back to the Future scene, with the even more iconic quote, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” implementing that there is no one distinct way in the navigation to the perfect career path, or a digital marketing strategy, for everything in our digital age is perpetually changing.
Wawa has been in business for approximately 200 years, expanding from the production of industrial goods, to strangely, delivering milk. It ultimately resulted in the creation of the novelty convenience store we all know and love. Some other fun Wawa facts: the brand sells 500,000 cups of coffee along with 300,000 hoagies each day! As technology has integrated into daily life, Todd Miller, along with Wawa intend to “elevate convenience” on their customer’s behalf. In the past, Wawa would typically only compete with other convenience stores such as Sheetz and 7-Eleven. But now with multi-industry companies on the rise, like Amazon and Uber, the experience of being “offline” and “online” has lead to a blurred line of technology as a utility rather than a commodity; inspiring Wawa’s adoption of the policy of “non-line;” in which there is no distinction between the two.
Wawa strives to engage with its consumers by employing a cellphone- friendly platform, attempting to personalize their experience effectively while offering rewards on their mobile app, a desirable feat regarding online orders. The company also partners with Waze, an app for travel directions, and will alert a Waze user when they are in the close proximity of a Wawa, using innovative geofence technology. To promote their light-hearted, consumer-friendly attitude, Wawa also utilizes social media platforms, such as Twitter, to reply to miscellaneous customer’s tweets, and once offered a Hoagiefest photo filter on Snapchat (that Snoop Dog even used!) Another celebrity, football player Brent Celek, was featured as an undercover Wawa employee, to advertise a promotion of Wawa’s coffee.
In order to completely “elevate the convenience” of a potential consumer, a company must constantly be adapting with today’s digital marketing, encapsulating the strategy that Wawa focuses on.