The day has followed the typical August recipe; 1 part heat + 1 part humidity = a melting summer day in the South. Even with the heat, one thought that couldn’t be baked out of my head all day was to reward myself with a southern classic – pit smoked BBQ. I’m in Birmingham, AL and I picked a local place of historical significance, and while it is out of my way, I manage to find the place without too many U-turns. Once inside, I place my order without having to review the limited menu.
“A clear and narrow focus can build a better business”
While I’m waiting for my order I take in the joint. I’m seated at a large counter in the middle of the restaurant. I can see the huge, wood fired pit at one end and the wait staff at the other. The pit is being worked by some very seasoned veterans, who turn and pull pieces in the pit with cast iron tools that look as old as they are. The wait staff takes and fills orders, organize the counter, and make customers feel like regulars – even if they’ve never been there before. The product of a well-practiced process, the BBQ is clearly the focus of the business and why everyone is here. My order arrives and I enjoy the bliss of the first bite. What I know to be the proper way to eat a meal – slowly, savoring the flavors, is forgotten and I finish dinner quickly.
Happy with the fulfillment of my culinary quest, I start thinking about the business itself and how the success of this BBQ joint is the secret sauce that many small businesses should be building. I’m learning marketing lessons from a BBQ joint.
The joint is a great example of how a clear and narrow focus can build a better business. The maniacal attention placed on doing one thing right has put this place on the map and in the minds of its customers. A product that is consistently made and delivered at the highest quality has built a reputation and a following. They have built Know, Like and Trust by doing ONE thing exceptionally well. Everything they do here centers on the product:
- Customers are completely engaged; they see the business, smell it, and feel it. Key Points: customer experience, authenticity.
- The product is in clear view; no mystery or confusion. The customer knows they are not buying the plate in front of them, but the years of knowledge, applied through hours of preparation and cooking, delivered within minutes of ordering. Key points: transparency, trust.
- By offering a view of the BBQ on the hardwood pit, they show their work and the customers see and understand the processes that are used. The customer is educated on the process of cooking and sees the evidence. Key points: trust, value, appreciation.
- The employees and the tools of their craft demonstrate a commitment to the satisfaction of the customer. They are focused on delighting their customers. The cast iron tools of the pit demonstrate strength and hard work. The precision of the knife as it cuts your portion of meat demonstrates a commitment to quality and respect. The wait staff and their attention to every detail of your meal shows their desire to make it an experience. Key points; excellent customer service, attention to detail.
Many small businesses have yet to recognize the simplicity and beauty of this model. They fear that by narrowing their focus they eliminate many in the market that might otherwise appear to be their prospects. They are right. The illusion of marketing and serving everyone is misleading. It increases the number of businesses you compete against. It reduces the satisfaction level of your customers because you can’t give your best to those that aren’t suited for your business. And ultimately, it is an expensive and exhausting business model trying to be all things to all people.
Most businesses, especially services-based businesses, know that getting more customers may not be as important as getting the right customers. The ideal customer for your business appreciates the value of your products and services. They appreciate your process and product and know why your business is the right fit for them. They are intellectually and emotionally connected with your business.
The lesson learned from this BBQ joint is doing one thing exceptionally well allows you to focus on a narrow market which makes it easier to engage ideal customers. This ultimately allows your business to differentiate itself from the competition. The creation of a secret sauce for your business is a great way to build your business. Just like this joint.
What’s the one thing your business does exceptionally well? And, are you using that as the “secret sauce” to develop your marketing strategy and grow your business?
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