Mr. Robert Baker, Senior Director of Advertising for Giant Eagle, visited campus to guest lecture in Dr. Powell’s Advertising course. Mr. Baker intrigued the audience with lessons learned during his professional career.
Upon graduating from college, Baker started his journey in the business world, thinking he would land a higher position immediately. He soon discovered that it was not going to be that easy. Baker worked several jobs, trying to find one that would be the right fit for him, and pay well, but the time and effort required challenged his pre-conceived notions.
Baker had his fair share of “no’s” while he worked door- to-door sales and other entry-level positions. He learned that one needs to understand what is being sold, and to believe in it, to be successful. “Don’t stop when you hear no; keep on doing what you believe in.” This concept is very important to Baker because if he would not have been persistent in his trek up the corporate ladder, he would not be where he is today. He told the audience, “Do the job in front of you…even if it’s not the job you want to do forever” and “If you do your job, do it well and then do a little more each time, you will end up getting your boss’s attention” and maybe an opportunity to take the position you really desire. Baker stressed how necessary it is to do the job you are assigned well because that is why you were even given the position in the first place. One needs to stay focused on their assignment if they ever want to be recognized and promoted.
After working for a few different companies, several bumps in the road, and many learning experiences, Baker accepted a position with Giant Eagle. He did not immediately become the Senior Director of Advertising, but it did not take long for the company to recognize his abilities. He now oversees all of Giant Eagle’s advertising efforts, a $60 million budget, and a staff of nearly sixty full-time Team Members. He has worked to develop and improve programs like fuelPerks!®, a loyalty program that rewards customers via discounts at Giant Eagle’s getGo™ gas stations. “It is extremely important to figure out a sustainable competitive advantage.” Giant Eagle’s fuelPerks!® has been just that, yielding an impressive 90% scan rate.
Giant Eagle now has over 400 locations and plans to continue expanding west. They recently developed a segment called Market District™, which is a higher-end supermarket with more fresh and local foods than traditional Giant Eagle stores carry. The company is also developing innovative programs like Curbside Express, where a customer can order online and pick up their items at the store without leaving their car.
With over $10 billion in annual revenue, it is clear that Giant Eagle’s marketing efforts are working well. Baker also stressed the importance of making people (both Team Members and customers) feel valued. His closing comments define his career, “Work hard and you’ll achieve success.”