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Brooke Perry has served as head of marketing for Velvet Taco for about a year.

Brooke Perry at Velvet Taco redefines what a taco can be

Marketing strategy, like all things at the restaurant chain, focuses on ‘relentless innovation’

Brooke Perry, vice president of marketing for Dallas-based Velvet Taco, has the enviable task of redefining the taco.

“What we’re really trying to do is redefine what a taco can be, taking global recipes from all over the world and introducing them to people and our guests who may have never even thought to try that dish, and using the tortilla as our vessel for that introduction,” Perry said. “That will continue to be core to the marketing strategy long term.”

Perry has served as head of marketing for the 46-unit fast-casual brand for about a year.

“I was really fortunate to find my passion, which was food marketing, really early on, actually, in high school,” Perry said during an interview. Before joining Velvet Taco, she worked with Nothing Bundt Cakes, Zoës Kitchen, Jamba, Original Chop Shop, and Bella Green.

“It really all starts with the brand,” she said. “We, as a brand, are all about relentless innovation. That’s true for our menu. It’s also true for our marketing and the way we communicate with guests. But I’d say the most important piece of our strategy is how we really make real brand-to-human connections.

“We’re not just setting out to create new guests,” Perry said. “We really want brand fans, our brand followers, to view Velvet Taco as part of their identity. We work to integrate the brand into deep emotional equity territory with those guests.”

Velvet Taco in late January drew more than 9 million views on an Instagram video.

“We connected it to margaritas,” Perry recalled. “It was just a really fun, engaging video post.” The social-media post required no financial investment, she added.

Velvet Taco was founded in Dallas in 2011 and it sells more than 20 taco varieties, including a rotating special WTF, or “Weekly Taco Feature,” that has included tortillas stuffed with cheesesteak, alligator, and chicken Cordon Bleu. The chain was named a Hot Concept by Nation’s Restaurant News in 2016 and its WTF won NRN’s MenuMasters Award for best limited-time offer in 2020.

“When I first started out in restaurant marketing,” Perry recalled, “it was definitely a little bit more traditional than it is today. Brands really focused on paid media, which is still such an important part of the strategy, but it was less nuanced.”

Marketing has become more individualized, she said.

“Whereas you had to have one blanket strategy that you hoped would reach as many people as possible,” Perry explained, “now through loyalty programs and special targeting you can really become very niche in who you're targeting and make sure that the right message is reaching the right consumer to deliver the results that you want to see.”

Every platform is unique, she added. “You can’t approach each with a one-size-fits-all mentality,” Perry said. “We create content that works on multiple platforms. But then sometimes there's one piece of content that only works for Instagram or only works for TikTok or might only be a fit for the culture on X or formerly Twitter.”

She said Velvet Taco plans its content out about a month in advance. “Then we leave some openings for relevant trends,” Perry said, “because social really is a real-time tool, and if something is happening in the social space, you have to jump on it. We make sure that we stay nimble in that way. But I think where a lot of brands miss the mark on social media is they focus on a publishing strategy. All they do is they just push content out to people. … It’s important to use it as a way to communicate back and forth with your guests. “

Managing influencers has also become part of the restaurant marketer’s job, she added.

“Influencers are an amazing tool that we used to not have when it came to marketing, or at least is readily available,” Perry said. “We have managed it a couple of different ways. I love to manage influencers through a PR agency partner. I find that they’re very well connected, and it helps a lot just from a facilitation standpoint with setting up visits and agreements.”

She said she looks for influencers who already have an affinity for the brand.

“You get really more authentic output from them and you’re able to draw out a stronger relationship over time,” Perry said.

Velvet Taco will enter its eighth state, Arizona, this year, and sales remain the best gauge of marketing success.

Velvet Taco owners FB Society and L Catterton sold an ownership stake in the concept to private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P. in 2021.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

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