Today’s Kallum with a K blog: You’re out in a restaurant for a meal and the food arrives, what’s the first thing you do? Dive in or take a photo first for your Instagram feed?
Look around in most restaurants or cafes and you’ll probably see a lot of people who fall into the latter category. Can you guess which category I fall into? (Look at the picture above!).
I don’t want to debate the merits of this, if it’s rude or not, or if it’s a sad reflection of our society. However, I do want to look at the business opportunities of this craze.
I remember, I read an article last year about pubs and restaurants spending thousands of pounds on flowers to create “Instagram-friendly” appearances. This is interesting for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the internet and these social networks have, in many ways,
leveled the playing field when it comes to marketing.
A small business can be on the same platforms as much bigger ones. The local cafe can access the same tools as the restaurant chains. And whilst the bigger firms can dedicate more resources to this, the smaller ones can emphasise their personality and unique charm - and other positive human qualities which many bigger businesses can’t or won’t.
Much of the philosophy that underpins this is what Seth Godin teaches. More astute fans will have read me speaking about him before. He is the author of well over 20 marketing books, including one of my favourites: Purple Cow - here's a link to a 5 mins YouTube video about this.
His main point is that “remarkable” things - those that as so different they are worth talking about or remarking upon. And Seth is all about helping businesses to create these sort of “stories” that spread.
How do you create products, services or experiences that are consistently so remarkable that your customers want to tell everyone about them? And as a business owner,
what can you to do facilitate, accelerate and leverage this?
And therein lies to the two challenges (opportunities!) when it comes to marketing for all business owners.
In terms of marketing, Instagram is just a tool. Sure, it’s hot right now, however, it may not be in a few years. That’s why it’s so crucial that your product or service is remarkable on its own. And this also emphasises the importance of not replying on one platform too much to promote your business.
If Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn went down tomorrow - as they did a few weeks ago - would you still be able to speak to your customers or audience? And if they disappeared forever, what would you do then...?
Back to the floral restaurant (yum, tasty flowers!), whilst the thousands of pounds spent on flowers may help it get remarked upon and help spread the story, it’s really only a vanity project. It’s cheap and has no real substance. And it probably would lead to much sustainable growth for the business, unless it offers something more, something truly remarkable.
Imagine you were in charge of marketing for this restaurant and you were given a £3,000 budget to spend. Are you really going to blow all of that on some pissing daffodils?!
And thinking about this from another angle, what could you do instead that creates a really remarkable experience for your customers? It doesn’t have to be a “big bang” thing, it can be really simple stuff consistently done well.
Here are some suggestions: remember your customers names and facts about them - their hobbies, family and work. People generally love hearing their own name and it makes them feel special when you remember things about them (although there will always be those who find this creepy!).
Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to average service from businesses that we rave if we are able to find and buy the thing we wanted without much hassle. Some people regard this as “great” customer service - and in many ways, it is!
Therefore, for us business owners this is a huge opportunity to do something really special, genuine and thoughtful - in other words, human.
People crave attention and interaction with others so give it to them!
There is not much worse in terms of customer service when you’re treated badly, ignored or “inhumanely”. And that can be as simple as a business refusing to do something for you because “it’s against our policy”.
When did policies become more important than people in businesses (and life!)?
Sometimes you need to break the rules as an employee and put the customer first. Ignore stooooopid policies (perhaps not Health & Safety though!) that really do not serve the customer or put their needs first.
Businesses need to empower their staff to use their judgement, their inbuilt moral compass of what is right and wrong - rather than some employee handbook. And the same is true for business owners - we can make the rules up!
So if your rules are not putting customers first, they’re definitely not right. And remember, everything about you and your business can end up on Insta - the good and the bad.
Always be mindful that your actions, and those of your staff, can end up as a viral video or a meme. That’s another reason why you should consistently treat people with respect: not so that you don’t end up as a case study in some crappy blog about marketing...(haha, awkward!), but because it’s the human thing to do!
So look at the flowery restaurant as you walk by, tell the person next to you and post it on Instagram. Curiosity may make us go in once, however, if the experience isn’t as remarkable as the flowers, we won’t be back.
However, we’ll go to the better restaurant down the street for some food! The one that: remembers my name and what I’ve been up to, fills the water carafe (I’ve just learnt this is pronounced like giraffe with a C!) on the table whenever it runs out without us asking, gives us free desserts occasionally to reward our loyalty, asks us to be among the first to taste the new menu, invites us to exclusive events at the restaurant - like wine tasting evenings, and chased me down the street that time I left my wallet behind.
See you there!
Kallum with a K