Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Pimp Of Shrimp

Our Foodie Friday Fun this week comes to us courtesy of “Restaurant Startup“, a show on CNBC. If you’ve never seen it, the people behind two restaurant concepts pitch for an investment. One is selected, given a budget, and has 24 hours to produce a pop-up version of that concept. If all goes well, they receive an investment. This week’s episode featured a fast-casual concept restaurant serving South African food. What struck me as I watched the show is something from which any business can learn. 

The restaurant is called Peli Peli Kitchen and the food was really good according to the people who tried it.  Of course, many people had no idea what the food was as they were ordering it because the menu descriptions of this unfamiliar cuisine (can you name a South African dish off the top of your head?) were terrible.  One dish was described as “the pimp of shrimp”.  Say what?

The issues with the descriptions were pointed out to the guy producing the menu early on.  He did a very smart thing as he was editing.  He had his young son read the menu and tell him what the food was.  Of course, when he asked the kid if he knew what “the pimp of shrimp” was, the kid had no idea.  I’m not sure if the writer was in love with his alliteration, but he didn’t change the description.  Not surprisingly, when the hosts and potential investors asked diners who were waiting in line if they knew what the various dishes were, based on the description, most said no.

The point is pretty obvious.  We can’t do things in business that confuse our customers.  We can’t be so in love with our own clever marketing that we lose sight of that marketing’s main purpose: to inform consumers about the product so that consumers become customers.  I realize that some marketers like to cause confusion – think placing sugary fruit juices near the fresh fruit as an example – but I’m not a fan of that technique.  If we need to cause confusion to sell a product we probably ought to rethink the product.

The menu confusion, in this case, wasn’t a deliberate attempt to mislead.  It was just dumb.  Then again, how many pimps of shrimp are on your marketing materials?

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Feeding The Spiders

As happens from time to time in this space, today’s post might seem a little geeky. Please bear with me – there is a broader business point that emerges from the somewhat technical premise! 

I was discussing Search Engine Optimization with a prospective client the other day. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you can think of it as the process through which web pages are optimized to rank highly in search for particular terms. As you know from your own use of a search engine, ranking on the first page of results tends to get you more clicks than being on page 3. It used to be a highly technical process, and while there are still some fairly technical pieces to it, the best practice I follow when working on it with clients is pretty simple: create a great user experience.

Oddly, it helps to think of the search engine spiders (the robots that comb the web for pages and organize them) as people. If you create a great user experience for a person, odds are that the spider will find it attractive too and ingest the information properly. What do I mean? Great content is a great user experience. So is a site that’s easy to navigate with clear buttons and no broken links. Content that has been proofread and is error free makes a great user experience. While there are some technical things – title tags and back links to name two – that require attention, it’s the user experience that it driving SEO these days.

We can say that about any aspect of business, I think. A great user experience – a pleasant, functioning environment married to great customer service – is the most basic requirement. Solving a customer’s problem and providing great value while doing so (notice I didn’t say at a low-cost!) is the recipe for success.  Thinking about how best to feed the search spiders can help create a better business experience overall. Does that make sense?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media

Ends And Means

The cynics among you believe that as a brand or as a company behavior matters far less than a low price and a quality product. If you provide a great service or a good product and price it as low as possible, consumers will buy. It doesn’t matter if you pollute the air or pay lousy wages. Consumers just want to know what’s in it for them. The good news, from my perspective, is that you are wrong. Here is the evidence to back it up.

The Havas folks did a study to understand how corporate social responsibility has evolved over the past decade. They looked at how are companies responding to consumer pressures to work toward the common good and what those consumers now expect from their brand partners. Most importantly, the studied how critical these expectations are to their purchase decisions.

As it turns out, consumers are extremely interested in this. Half of mainstream consumers and two-thirds of Prosumers (a term coined by futurist Alvin Toffler – a consumer who produces and consumes media – and who doesn’t?) avoid buying from businesses deemed to have a negative social or environmental impact. As the study states: “People still want bargains, of course, but it’s even more essential that products and services offer some sort of enduring value.”

Some other points from the study:

  • When we asked respondents how important it is for a company’s CEO to do certain things, paying workers a fair wage and providing a pleasant work environment received higher scores than earning profits or even being environmentally conscious.
  • People aren’t looking for businesses to act as quasi-governments. On the contrary, around two-thirds of our global sample actually fear the power big corporations already wield. What they want to see are all the world’s players—governments, corporations, NGOs, citizens—working together to tackle problems that no single entity can solve alone.
  • Two-thirds of our global sample agreed that businesses actually bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change, and 62 percent said they’d like their favorite brands to play a bigger role in solving social problems.

The point is that if you believe that your brand or company can let the ends – revenues and profits – justify any means, you’re sadly mistaken.  The study shows that companies that do good are more likely to do well.  Isn’t that the end we’re all after?

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