Thank You

A big thank you to those who shared such great comments on my first blog. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on a regular basis.

AGD commented: Even the little guys can deliver that emotional connection while being outspent in traditional marketing by the big boys.

I agree 100%. I always say, “You can spend your time or you can spend your money.” And usually entrepreneurs have way more time than money. They really can and do spend that time on mastering the customer “touch points.” That’s the secret chains can learn from entrepreneurs…they take it personally.

sevell commented: Is it that we have too many choices, shorter attention spans, or just no loyalties anymore?

I agree that the number of choices makes a difference, but think about it…when you visit a new restaurant, that first visit represents 100% of your experience with that brand. If 100% of your experience with a brand is bad, that’s going to influence your decision to return.

On the other hand, you may have been going to certain brands for years and years. One bad experience with a familiar favorite may only represent a fraction of your total visits. A bad visit in a restaurant you have been visiting two times a month for ten years would be less than half of a percent of your visits making you way more forgiving.

So I think it is a combination of clutter and confidence. For your next visit (particularly in tough economic times ) are you going to “risk” your visit on a brand that has disappointed you 100% of the time or one that has disappointed you less than 1% of the time?

Dines-out-alot commented: Cooker was amazingly successful and had lines out the doors for several years, until new owners came in and decided to cut costs and eliminate the comps.

I loved The Cooker. Guests did too. I heard it all the time when I did focus groups. That simple “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” table tent said it all…no risk. The guest expectation was…I’m 100% sure I will leave happy…what’s not to love?

The sad thing is that it shows that companies can “cost engineer” a brand away. I’ve seen this countless times…taking away brand differentiators one by one, eroding the brand over time.

Several years ago I worked with a family chain on a turnaround strategy. As we brainstormed ideas to build sales in a chain that had experienced five years of negative comp store sales, the recurring comment from those that had been there in the brand’s heyday was, “We used to do that.” It’s often hard to quantify the value added by a “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” or free muffins to first time guests or cookies to each and every kid, but if we don’t quantify the value these things add, we’ll never value the return on investment (ROI) they contribute.

Next week, in the interest of full disclosure, I will reveal: The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned About Restaurant Marketing.

Until then, let me know your thoughts.