How To Find A Market: Be Remarkable
Last week, I had one of the most memorable “eating experiences” of my life. Note the use of experience rather than meal, because that’s exactly what it was, an experience. I’ll be thinking about this dinner for a while, and it was the inspiration for the essay you’re reading now.
The restaurant business is tough. According to an Ohio State study, 80% of new restaurants fail in the first five years. The margins are thin, competition is high, and the work is tedious. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’re looking to differentiate, add more value
A marketer’s job is to inspire your confidence, loyalty, and behavior, ultimately plowing a path to the bottom line. Lots of ad money is spent dismissing the competition to make products look better. But manipulating the minds of customers isn’t the only way to make a profit. Sure, you might improve short-term sales, but that’s like adding growth hormones to vegetables, there are long-term side effects.
Instead of investing time on things you can’t control, why not focus on what you can: the value you provide. The restaurant was remarkable because of the ubiquitous unbelievable attention to detail. So much effort, concentration, and care went into creating an enjoyable meal. I didn’t feel like a sucker for an ad, I was genuinely having a wonderful time.
Why more value isn’t obvious
Providing more value to your customers might sound like a no-brainer, but I assure you, most people won’t go the extra mile. Why, because it’s hard. Instead we settle for “good enough”. After all, it’s not our name on the brand or product, and one cut corner won’t hurt. Good enough might satisfy, but it will rarely wow a customer. If you want to differentiate yourself, choose the way of remarkable value.
There’s a lot of psychological research on reciprocity. It seems as though people are wired to return what they receive. E.g. you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, etc. Ordinary businesses offer minimum value at maximum prices. In return, they end up looking like every other business. Conversely, remarkable businesses deliver extraordinary value for what they charge (note: not all value is monetary).
My thesis is that there’s always room in the market for someone willing to provide remarkable value. Creating a sustainable model to deliver said value is difficult, but it’s well worth the effort. After all, what are businesses for, if not to serve customers. My experience last week reminded me what it feels like to actually be cared for by a company, an all too rare occurrence. The lesson: go the extra mile and you might be surprised to find you’re the only one still running.