• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

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Sheetz marketing itself as a restaurant is all wrong

Sheetz seems to be doing a lot of things really well these days.

It boasts the cheapest gas (which is why I like them — as well as droves of others), has the cleanest stations, and is user friendly and visually striking. No one looks like Sheetz, which marks the first step in developing preference.

So with the Sheetz brand looking as strong as it is, why would it throw proverbial wrench into its success by advertising: “Just because we don’t look like a restaurant doesn’t mean we’re not one”?

Really? Just to be clear, Sheetz is a gas station with a great convenience center where you can get a quick and, let’s be honest, mediocre fast food sandwich. The food at Sheetz represents an excellent option for a cheap meal while on the road. But, it is definitely not a restaurant and taking on the major QSRs such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s is not a smart strategy.

Let’s play reality here. Just how foolish does this sound: “Okay guys, it’s gonna be Arby’s, Taco Bell or Sheetz.”

Does this scenario sound as stupid to you as it does me?

To me, this is messaging inanity because it simply isn’t believable. Ultimately, Sheetz is missing a perfect opportunity to take complete control in its respective market. Instead, it is wasting time and money by attempting to steal market share from restaurant chains where it doesn’t play on an equal field. Louis Sheetz, the company’s EVP of sales and marketing and member of the family that founded it, says that the lines between category definitions are blurred.

Exactly. That’s why the opportunity is missed because this marketing angle continues to blur the category lines without giving target audiences a true definition of what Sheetz is. If audiences don’t know where to place the brand or, even worse, don’t believe where the brand itself is saying it needs to be placed, then the brand becomes damaged.

Sheetz desperately needs to rethink this soon. It is already holding onto such a vital piece of the market that includes a brand in 7-Eleven that has lost its luster, but can now steal some of Sheetz’s share because Sheetz just opened the door. Clearly, Sheetz is willing to think outside of the box, but it must rethink its marketing approach and bring clarity to its position if it wishes to take that giant leap forward.

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