I was watching Anthony Bourdain the other night on the Travel Channel. For you foodies out there, his No Reservations is consistently one of the best of the “foodologues” out there. This week, his program was about disappearing NYC restaurants. If you haven’t seen the show, I’d urge you to find it and not just for the food. You see, for those of us who grew up in and around NYC, the real food served in these places is going the way that the real Times Square did.
You can go to a steak house like Del Friscos and have an excellent meal but it’s not a true NY steak house experience such as one would have at Keens. One is the Disneyworld experience of going to Epcot and figuring you’ve seen the world; the other is really being there.
It’s the same in business. People can tell the difference. They may come away feeling good about you or your product but they will also be aware if you’re not ringing true. Unauthentic is death today since there are too many ways for consumers to express their opinions. A “ahh, it was OK” response is not good enough and it can’t be your standard. More importantly, no one likes fake.
You may think you’ve had pastrami until you get some from Katz’s. It’s not that other pastrami isn’t as good – it might be. But the entire gestalt is different anywhere else. How do we measure the intangible? I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the Supreme Court decision on porn – you’ll know it when you see it. Serving skirt steak and schmaltz doesn’t make you Sammy’s and there’s not a problem if you’re not – right up until the second you claim you ARE!
What is your business claiming to be? Can you pass the authenticity test? And now I have to go eat – this is making me far too hungry.