Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - 19

creating solutions

P

Ptomaine poisoning. What a great problem that was. It's what
some people thought killed President Harding.
Since then, we've discovered that ptomaines-a group of
amine compounds in putrefying animal and vegetable matter
that stink and taste bad-aren't actually what cause food poisoning. However, if you were traveling around before reliable
refrigeration was common, you had to size up a restaurant
before trusting it with your gut.

Food safety and hygeine were really
clear, really horrible and really great
problems that a restaurant and restaurant marketing could help solve. Over
and over in history, smart people see a
problem and solve it with a restaurant.
When people began traveling so far
they couldn't rely on word of mouth to
determine which restaurants were safe,
clever problem-solvers installed shiny,
easily cleaned surfaces everywhere in
their restaurant. There was often a
counter where you could sit and watch
the cook grilling your food and see for
yourself there was no funny business.
One showman and founder of what
became a well-known chain would interrupt the lunch rush to bring in barrels full
of good-looking, freshly butchered meat
(back when everyone knew what goodlooking, freshly butchered meat ought to
look like) so the largest number of people would spread the word that the burgers served there were trustworthy.
That's marketing.
When consistency was a problem,
familiar names began appearing with
the reassurance that the same standards were being met by any given
restaurant-every location met the
same requirements, consistently, or
those employees answered to actual
restaurateurs named Howard Johnson,
Harland David (Colonel) Sanders and
ol' Bob Evans.

Obscure Issues
Modern eaters have problems, but
they're subtler. Still, solving problems is
the very core of marketing. That's where
all your promotional efforts should start.

You can always spot a piece of marketing that's relying on silliness or blind
hope instead of a solid understanding of
what people literally and truly need from
your restaurant, and how your restaurant
is responding to that.
A lot of times you can tell that all the
marketing team did was glance around
at what everyone else is doing. What
else explains the sudden appearance of
molten desserts at practically every
quick-service restaurant concept a few
months ago or the rush to put sliders on
every menu?
That's not solving a problem. That's
just keeping up with the Joneses, or perhaps, the Krocs. Ask yourself: What are
some good, juicy, modern problems?

Making an Action Plan
For each modern problem, some clever
person has come up with a promotion,
an initiative, or an entire restaurant
chain to solve it. Maybe that's you.
But maybe you've lost sight of the
original problem and now your restaurant is a machine set on "auto" that
operates today because it operated yesterday. Value meals, healthy kid's programs, gluten-free menus: they're all
responses to problems, but they're alltoo-common now. It's hard to keep up.
Maybe a self-examination would help.
Question one: Do you actually do
anything different that addresses a real
problem? From speed of service to
unusual methods of preparation and
delivery, there are a ton of opportunities to become integral to people's lives.
Or you can just recycle the same fishfor-Lent promo you did last year.

Question two: If you are doing a
good job solving a problem, does
anybody know? Sometimes there's
something you're doing, or have been
doing, that hasn't been advertised.
Did Wendy's get credit for being
fresh-never-frozen before they started saying it a few years ago?
Probably not. But that solves an issue
some people have with fast-food and
Wendy's was able to differentiate
itself.
Question three: Can you point out a
problem that nobody noticed or
thought about much until you brought it
up - then solved it right then and
there? Eating in the car is a hassle -
oh wait, here's KFC Go Cups.
Antibiotics are injected into innocent
caged animals - hold on, Chipotle is
antibiotic-free (for now) and fights for
humane conditions. Create the problem, then solve it. It's an old ploy, but an
effective one.
Question four: When you talk about
the problem you solve, do you sound
like everyone else? If every restaurant
is trying to solve the same problem -
for example, lunch diners in a rush -
every restaurant should also communicate that in a branded tonality unique to
their brand personality. If you sound
like everyone else, people will assume
that you're just like everyone else. At
that point, you better hope for good
real estate.
In any case, before you open your
mouth and speak, make sure you're
talking about something that shows you
know what your customers are struggling with when they're deciding
where to go eat. Then make sure every
location of your restaurant really delivers. Otherwise, you might have an even
bigger problem.
Charlie Hopper is a principal at Young
& Laramore, a full-service advertising
agency based in Indianapolis, and
author of "Selling Eating: Restaurant
Marketing Beyond the Word Delicious."
Hopper may be reached at
chopper@yandl.com.
food & drink * spring 2014 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com

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Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - Cover1
Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - Cover2
Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - 1
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Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - Cover3
Food and Drink - Spring 2014 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/knighthouse/fd_vol19_issue4b
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/knighthouse/fd_vol19_issue4a
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/knighthouse/fd_2017winter
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/knighthouse/fd_2017summer
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2014winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2014fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2014summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2014spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2013winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2013fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2013summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2013spring
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2012summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2012spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/phoenix/fd_2012winter
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