Burgers, Fries and Shakes

The Diner in the somewhat sleepy town I passed through was painfully empty.  It is as painfully empty as too many of the stores and restaurants you walk by these days.  No doubt this causes incredible stress to the owner of each business leaving them way too much time to consider all the extra things they could do to try to change their fortunes. We have all been there or are worried we could find ourselves in our business version of that same predicament.

But let’s turn those thoughts around.  How could you do LESS to change your fortunes?  Consider that people actually do NOT want more from you and would welcome you giving them an amazingly great and simple moment.  If there ever was a time that the saying “Longing for simpler times” rings true it is now. I hope that fact remains long after the recession is over.

So why can’t that Diner end the stress that comes from maintaining that enormous menu that is trying to please everyone?  What if they just focused on making the PERFECT burger, fries and shake?  Every ounce of energy focused into a finite offering that will be extraordinary.

No more.  No less.

In the process, they will have reinvented their business.  They will have found a way to be different than their competitors.  They will have found a way to have people start talking about them again and spreading the word.  Not from that extra mailer or ugly banner with a “buy one get one free” offer.  Just connect to what people went to Diners for in simpler times and deliver it with perfection.

The Shake Shack in New York does just that and the lines run around the block….and back. It worked so well they are now a public company with a market cap of over $1 billion.

And it is true for every business.

What did “simpler times” in your industry look like?   What is the Burger, Fries and Shake of your industry? Of your specific business?  Are they the absolute best anyone could ever find?

Panhandler Marketing Strategy

Panhandlers. Beggars. People who spend their days asking the age old question “Brother, can you spare a dime?” Every big (and some small) city has them and their approach is always the same… “Excuse the interruption. I lost my job, have no place to live, have no food, have 8 kids and need any money you can spare.”??

They work the corners and ATM machines. On the subway, they move from the front car all the way to the back telling the same story over and over.?? They follow the exact same formula. It has become so commonplace that people don’t look up or even blink at some of the saddest stories you can imagine.

Today on the F train a man stood up and announced:

“The next stop is the 23rd street station. Connections can be made to the X,Y,Z trains. Up on the street you will find Barnes & Noble, Staples, Starbucks and The Container Store. Please be sure to pick up any newspapers you have left behind to help keep our subway system clean. Thank you and have a nice day.”

Every (now smiling) passenger was totally focused on him. He delivered a message that was concise, valuable and totally relevant. He did it with passion and a dose of fun.

His delighted audience paid him generously for it.