What Do You Mean, BBQ?

Our Foodie Friday Fun this week is about barbecue. I mean, we’ve reached late summer and I haven’t posted anything about one of my favorite foods. Then again, I can spend the next few hundred words writing about it and we might be thinking about two completely different things since “barbecue” means different things to different people. Therein lies today’s business point as well.

English: Central Texas Style BBQ from Pearland...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, when some people hear the term (BBQ for short), they think it means food cooked on a grill, as in “fire up the BBQ and let’s get the steaks on.”  That is NOT what I mean.  The term in my mind always refers to food cooked low and slow in the smoke from a wood fire.  Notice I didn’t say “over” a fire since BBQ is indirect heat cooking at its finest.

Second, there are many different types of BBQ.  Pull into a BBQ joint in Raleigh and you’ll be getting whole hog chopped up with a vinegar and pepper sauce.  Go further west and you get just pork shoulder chopped with a tomato-based sauce.  Kentucky serves up mutton barbecue served with “dip,” a Worcestershire-based sauce, in the western part of the state but pork in the east.  An order in Tennessee will get you a Memphis style dry rub on ribs.  The whole hog in South Carolina adds mustard to the sauce while in Texas you’ll get beef brisket.  Finally, in Kansas City you might get any or all of the above.  One order, many potential results.  Which is, of course, the business point.

How many presentations have you seen in which fairly generic terms are used?  How many times have you been shopping on the web and come across a product page that has lots of flowery language that sells the product but very little specific information as to how the product is differentiated from anything else?  One mistake we all make in marketing from time to time is assuming our audience knows what we mean.  While we all know our products inside and out, the consumer might not.  Even worse, by using common terms without making sure we’re putting them into the correct context, we run the risk of having the consumer pass on ordering since they might assume something that’s not true.  Even worse, they might order and be very unhappy with what they receive.

We can’t be in the business of selling “BBQ.”  We need to sell “chopped whole hog in a vinegar and pepper sauce.”  We want to use language that puts an indelible image into the consumer’s mind while making clear what exactly it is we’re selling.  Don’t assume everyone knows what BBQ or anything else means.  Have a great weekend – that’s clear, right?

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