Hot Chicken Takeover’s Joe Deloss Is The Best Marketer In Columbus

Hot Chicken Takeover Founder Joe DeLoss with Mayor Andrew Ginther.

The man is a marketing genius.

Joe Deloss started as an investment banking analyst, and now owns one of the most successful local restaurants in central Ohio. It’s not hard to envision the best selling business book that he’ll write in the future, running down the lessons learned from the founding and success of Hot Chicken Takeover.

Let’s run down the brilliance of Hot Chicken Takeover’s marketing and story:

The Power of One Big Early Win And Media Attention

HCT began as a popup concept in Olde Towne East open just 10 hours a week. Open weekends only, they operated until they ran out of chicken. Selling out of food is something we midwesterners aren’t used to, which played a part in the natural and easy buzz that was generated. Starting small enabled Deloss to begin figuring out the business and the ins and outs of mass food production, but it also had a marketing component. This was marketing as a win-win, a concept we return to with Hot Chicken Takeover again and again.

Deloss next launched a Kickstarter that raised $53,000 in 30 days. What’s a Kickstarter success like that do for a business? Besides the obvious cash infusion, it also gets you the ear of friendly reporters at places like Huffington Post.

The Power Of Urgency

Once they moved to North Market, HCT didn’t overextend. Hours were still limited and the restaurant was only open certain days of the week. The amount of chicken remaining was updated every day on a chalkboard in the restaurant, as well as on social media, until the counter hit zero. You couldn’t drop in on a whim and try the hot new thing, because you might leave hungry. You had to get there early.

The Power of New

Very long lines at North Market were common. Again, this was something novel in Columbus. We might be used to waiting for a table in a restaurant, but 30+ minutes in a line at a chicken counter? That’s new.

The Power of A Great Story

And then, the most obvious component of HCT’s marketing success, the power of a good story. Hot Chicken Takeover isn’t just a place to get well executed Nashville style fried chicken. That’s ingredients for a successful business, but there’s only so many ways media can talk about that – and good luck getting national attention.

But a Nashville style fried chicken outfit with a social justice mission to give people second chances at employment? Media catnip.

It’s marketing and business done in a socially positive way. Another win-win.

The Power Of Telling That Story To Anyone Who Will Listen

Deloss is everywhere. Look at this YouTube playlist.

Ted Talks. Countless interviews. Local news. College appearances. It appears as if Deloss is game for anything, whether you are a national media outlet or a YouTube channel offering a few hundred views. Showing up matters. Every chance at media is a chance for getting in front of potential customers, a chance for investment, a chance for attention in a world where attention is currency and hard to come by.

The Result

Here are just a few of the media wins HCT has scored over the years:

Rachel Ray
CNBC
The Marshall Project

Plus, of course, the well deserved constant adoration and coverage from locals like the Dispatch, Columbus Alive, Columbus Business First, Columbus CEO, and others.

And now, possibly their biggest coup of all: a feature on The Today Show:

Pay attention Columbus: Hot Chicken Takeover is a business case study that’ll be taught in classrooms, and Joe Deloss is laying the groundwork to be a nationally recognized business leader.