6.4.18. I am re-posting this article from LinkedIn. I actually sent this to a entrepreneur who had contacted me to help them turn an opportunity into a profitable venture. In defining the best path forward, this team was so focused on the WOW they were losing site of the fundamentals. It is in understanding the customer experience and using this knowledge to build fundamentals that will determine long-term success. Unfortunately, too many startups spend precious resources chasing the latest buzz, or the WOW. Unlike a pair of shoes, they might not have anything to show for it.
WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING TRENDS, DOES THE SHOE FIT?
“You need something exciting, something I haven’t seen before, because I am always looking for the next new product that will WOW me…at least until the next latest and greatest comes along.”
These words came from an experienced restaurateur who has been in this industry for more than four decades, with an amazing knack for promotion and marketing. To be honest, I was taken aback- not at his observation that what we were building wasn’t exciting or WOW enough, but why this was part of our discussion. Our mission is to turn new customers into repeats and repeat customers into advocates. We offer no new shiny toys, no exciting bells or whistles, only the delivery of demonstrably effective results for our customers. Restaurants, actually all businesses need to track trends, to know what is the ‘latest and greatest’ in product, culture, social media and operations. But isn’t the challenge in understanding the customer experience is to know when to adopt the trends, the WOW, and when to not to?
Of the many hats business owners wear, marketing in today’s world has to one of the most challenging. One restaurant executive told me that it used to be as simple as putting an ad in the paper. Today, owners and operators are told daily that they need to be blogging, pinning, tweeting, snapchatting and posting. One PR guru I follow wrote that one of her greatest challenges is dealing with the angst her clients feel every time a new social media platform appears (one of those ‘latest and greatest’). They fear that missing out will hurt their bottom line.
And it’s not just the owners who are feeling overwhelmed; consumers are being constantly bombarded by irrelevant marketing messages. How many emails do I need to get in my inbox simply because I bought a pair of socks? And do you really think I am going to download an app for every store, website or restaurant I visit?
When It Comes to the Chasing the WOW Factor, Do You Really Need Those Shoes?
I keep thinking of a pair of gladiator sandals that I bought last year that were the ‘must have’ item for the season. They were beautiful, looked great and I couldn’t wait to wear them until I realized that I had nothing to wear them with-and never would. They certainly had the WOW factor but they would sit in my closet, never worn. An expensive mistake that could have been avoided had I taken stock of my wardrobe and not been dazzled by that shiny new object.
The first step in effective marketing is to listen to your customer and the best way to do that is to ask them: Learn who they are, what they are thinking, what they want, what social media platforms they frequent and what messaging format and platform will prove most effective. It makes sense to experiment with the ‘new’ if it fits with your brand and will resonate with your customer. but not because of pressure to buy into the hype.
Dave Sutton, co-author of Enterprise Marketing Management: The New Science of Marketing (John Wiley and Sons), thinks that people, especially marketers, should not be so quick to move with the trends. Instead, Sutton suggests taking a deep look at why this trend has appeal and whether it’s absolutely necessary for your success.
Sutton continues to lay out the predictably unpredictable pattern of trends. “The premise of the hype cycle is that people tend to get over-excited about new shiny objects, and then they are disappointed when the shiny objects don’t change the world in the blink of an eye. That said, some of the shiny objects do actually change the world, given the right market conditions and some patience. And for marketers, this is where things actually get interesting.” Sutton advises. “If the bright shiny object promises to get you to your goals, it may be worthy of further investigation and experimentation.”
Embracing new trends that enhance your brand, your culture and appeals to your customer base is the hallmark of a successful business. But chasing the WOW simply because it is bright and shiny, can eat up time, money, closet space and precious resources.
Fortunately for me, shoes can be returned.