What is a restaurant without customers?

New Flash- your customers don’t really care about your and your business.

They don’t really care about your logo.  They don’t care about your qualifications.  They don’t care about the number of awards you’ve won.  They don’t care if you are the cheapest, or the most expensive.  They don’t care if you are mobile, or if they have to come to you.

What do they care about, more than anything?

Themselves.

It’s all well and good having a clear idea of WHY you are in your business, but that’s where a lot of people stop. There’s a more important question to answer and to understand, and that’s WHO you are in your business for.

I was watching, by accident, the first episode of that new cooking show on TV last week as I was packing my bags for a weekend away. There were 5 teams, it seemed, and they were in the middle of a pitch for their idea for a restaurant business to a board of “experts”. The experts included a restaurant reviewer for a national newspaper, a “brand expert”, and a world renowned Australian chef.

The idea of the show, is of course, reality TV. My least favourite kind of TV (see my previous blog on watching TV here) because to me it’s lazy, overwrought, and ends up feeding the cult of the d-grade celebrity. On paper, the premise is that the contestants create and build their business from scratch, and the winner is the one who is the most profitable and successful, on whatever scale of metrics they are going to use. Profit is obviously a key one.

I was therefore hugely surprised to hear pitch after pitch that talked all about the design of the logo (sigh), the family history of food, (migrants, grandparents, dead family members- the usual tear jerkers), and then the avalanche of sentences that started with:

“I want….”

“We have always….”

“I deserve….”

“My family…”

“My story….”

And not once did ANY of them talk about the customer, or the customer experience.

You remember the customer, don’t you?

You know, the person that you are here to help?

That person who will sit in your restaurant seats, eat the food you agonize over, and pay you as they leave?

The MOST important person for you to impress?

Yes, I know- before you start shouting at me this is “reality TV” and hence, not real at all, but I got so angry I almost started shouting at the TV. Why did the “experts” not once ask them about their customers?

Why did the “brand expert” (who just loved picking apart the logos, sigh) not once talk about the importance of knowing your target market when developing your brand?

You see, your customers or clients don’t care about your business. Your clients will always care more about THEMSELVES than any unique thing that you do or offer. Always.

It’s the old, “what’s in it for me?”

After all, what is a restaurant without customers?  What is your business without your clients or customers?

Successfully marketing, promoting, growing (and if we must, branding) our businesses, comes from a deep understanding of the VALUE that you can offer your clients.

You are not your client’s best friend.

Your clients will not bail you out of a huge tax bill if you get your figures wrong.

Your customers will not say, “oh, it’s ok. Don’t worry about it” if the parcel you sent them got lost 2 weeks ago and still has not turned up.

Your customers aren’t going to bring you chicken soup when you are sick.

Your clients really don’t care if you help them, or the next person, as long as the value of what is delivered to them meets their needs.

So get over yourself. It’s not all about you. Take yourself out of the picture, and focus on who you are here to help. Hold that conversation with your market place. Stop using the words “I”, “We” and start talking with your customers instead of at them.

 

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Written by Anita Marchesani
I've come to small business the long way round- but enjoyed and learned from every single step. I learned about the power of Media during a BA and while working in Film&TV. I learned about the hard graft while groom for an international eventer in the UK. I learned organisation and staff management from running hundreds of weddings both here and in the UK. I learned from the mistakes of my first business that failed, to create an e-commerce success story, and now I'm here to help you have even greater success in your business. Oh, and I dance to really loud music like a crazy bastard.