I know a guy who is probably royally peeved about Olive Garden coming to town. My advertising consulting services are provided on a confidential basis, so names will be withheld for the purposes of this Blog.
A few years ago, I visited a restaurant who was interested in advertising on the radio. It was a locally owned joint and a pricier, fancier one at that.
In the course of my conversation with the restaurant's owner, he told me all about his food and how it was some of the best tasting stuff in town. He showed off his fancy dining room with its romantic atmosphere. I agreed that it was a nice looking place.
Then, he proceeded to tell me how upset he was that a certain chain restaurant in town always seemed to have a full parking lot while his restaurant was a ghost town on most nights. He couldn't believe that people would choose this VERY well known chain over his locally owned restaurant that offered what he felt was a superior menu.
In his opinion, the people who were going out to eat there were wrong in their actions.
As he was agitated and I wasn't as experienced a marketer/copywriter as I am today, I wasn't in a position to point out the massive flaw in his logic.
Today, I will.
Restaurants aren't about the food.
"WHAAAAAT?" said the incredulous man...
Hear me out.
I can get food at home. I can prepare it myself to my exact tastes. I can get food at a billion different restaurants and grocery stores throughout Central Wisconsin. If you're thinking that having really great food is all it takes to win the restaurant game, you're in for a nasty surprise.
Restaurants are about the experience.
There's a certain well known pizza chain that caters exclusively to children (and by proxy, their parents). Anyone who has ever eaten at this chain will tell you that it is some of the worst tasting pizza on the planet.
"Ew. It taste like cardboard and feet."
Bad pizza aside, the place make a ton of money. Why? The experience.
There's another chain in town whose parking lot is PACKED every time I drive by. I've eaten there before. The food was okay. But the experience, oh the experience! There were waiters singing and dancing all over the place. The atmosphere had all sorts of random craziness happening every few minutes. It wasn't just a meal. It was entertainment.
Chicken wings used to be the tiniest, least desired part of the chicken.
Add some rockin' sauce, a bunch of beer and TVs with sports on every wall and now you have an American institution.
Admit it. You want some now, don't you?
For a lot of customers looking for place to eat, a great experience with even mediocre food trumps a mediocre experience with terrific food EVERY TIME.
Getting back to the client at hand, I had actually eaten there once before. The food was kinda "Meh" for me, especially at the prices the place charged. The service was kinda "Meh" too.
During my visit, I also saw that they let a dog hang out in the kitchen. I'm never going to eat there again.
"MOM! THE CHEF SHED IN MY PASTA!"
Ultimately, the guy tried a couple weeks on the radio, decided that the fact he never advertised wasn't really his problem and went on his merry way.
His parking lot is almost always empty when I drive by.
A few reminders for my friends who run a business.
1) Don't get mad at the guy who's beating you. Get better. Offer something that can't, won't or don't. Get creative like this guy:
All sorts of joints sell furniture with rock bottom pricing, but nobody sells as much as that guy and all it costs him is a bag of onions every couple of weeks.
2) The experience you offer is just as, if not more, important as the product you offer. Whaddaya wanna bet onion man knows how to engage a customer when they walk in?
3) Advertise, preferably with one of the radio stations I write for. A ton of people listen to us. We're worth every penny. Call 842-1672 and ask for Bob.
Your TTPK Hint for yesterday is: "not smart".
Your Blog Keyword for today is: "DOWNER". It's good for 250 WDEZ Club Points until 1700 on 3/11/10.