Sharing Success

Home Grown Marketing

While Dino first shared these observations in 1994, they are even more applicable today!

What does “marketing” mean to you? What does “sales” mean to you? Do you define the two words differently or the same? While they are obviously related, in my opinion, sales and marketing are distinct.

Regardless of the type of business, sales is about TODAY, the moment of truth when customers exchange money for the product being offered. Sales put cash into the till every day and thereby prove the competitive value of what is being sold.

When sales are “rising,” there can be only two reasons: existing customers are buying more than before and/or new customers are starting to buy. Either way, rising sales are good news! However, “falling” sales indicate the opposite, i.e., some former customers are now buying elsewhere and new customers are not being attracted. Definitely bad news!

However, no one ever talks about “rising” (or falling) marketing, because unlike sales, marketing isn’t measurable. Marketing is not about today’s sales, it’s about the dialogue between you and the customer! And GOOD marketing is about communicating useful information to prospective and existing customers. It is also about soliciting feedback from customers, so you know how to further enhance the demonstrable superiority of your offerings (e.g., aroma, flavor, appearance, etc.) relative to your customers’ needs/wants.

Because “Big Guy” companies can afford big, expensive agencies, many Independent businesses feel they can’t compete on the marketing front. Not so! I believe that you have the ability to develop your own affordable and effective marketing for your restaurant(s)!

Here’s proof. Over the years, my company has become well known to quality-oriented Independent restaurateurs throughout America. What is not well known is that we have always done our own marketing! Many years ago, when first considering how to “market” our products, I concluded that agencies were good at developing slick, repetitive type advertising, but not very good at understanding our type of customer or their need for useful information.

Now, as then, I believe that for Independent businesses like yours and mine which depend on “repeat business” for success, the most effective marketing comes right out of the hearts and minds of ourselves and our employees! I believe you know your customers’ needs better than any hired gun agency, and I believe you/your team can come up with your own marketing approach!

However, let me caution you about the cardinal rule in “Little Guy” marketing. Never make a claim you can’t back up! The reason is simple: American consumers are tired of “hype” and are hungry for the truth! Because “Big Guy” companies often don’t provide a demonstrably better product/service, their hired gun agencies make claims the client can’t back up and then compensate for that lack with sheer repetitiveness (e.g., cola advertising). That’s why “Little Guy” marketing can succeed, IF our message is focused on the specific customer type we can best satisfy, and IF the message delivers useful, demonstrably true information!

Now let’s look at the five fundamental ways upon which you can base a marketing claim. In my experience, every marketing claim falls within one (or more) of these five basic categories:

• The specific attributes of the product

• How the product is made

• Who makes the product

• What benefit the product provides the user

• Who else uses the product

If you decide that “Little Guy” marketing is for you, first decide which of the five categories above are most important to the type of customer you want to attract. (This requires soliciting customer feedback.) Then evaluate which marketing claim (that’s important to your customers) you can make good on! Finally, decide on the amount of money your business can afford to regularly invest in marketing.

Once those fundamental decisions are made, you and your team are ready for the fun part figuring out memorable ways to communicate your message to the kind of customers you enjoy serving! That’s all there is to Little Guy marketing, and take it from me, you don’t need big bucks or an outside ad agency to be effective!