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Charlie Hopper's Atlanta MEG Selling Eating speech with notes

These are the slides, with presenter’s notes, that were used to present “Fifteen Forbidden Food Clichés That Are Holding You Back” to the assembled marketing execs of the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executive Group conference in Atlanta, Fall of 2014.

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Charlie Hopper's Atlanta MEG Selling Eating speech with notes

  1. 1. (This is where I fumbled around with the audio/visual equipment for slightly longer than I would have liked to.)
  2. 2. The people who market these are lucky. The beans are always the same, every day and night. They aren’t affected by weather, or season, or moody employees.
  3. 3. This restaurant will be a completely different place in 12 hours. Those responsible for marketing it have to worry about a lot more than the people who market Ranch Style beans.
  4. 4. Grocery stores sell food.! Restaurants sell eating.! ! Eating is an experience, which is a lot more complicated than a product.
  5. 5. Product is important, of course.! ! You have to have a consistently great product. OF COURSE. Of course, of course, of course.
  6. 6. Thing is, lots of places have great products.
  7. 7. These are images I got off websites taken by the restaurants themselves.! !I just Googled “turkey sub.”
  8. 8. I don’t know if your turkey sandwich is up here.
  9. 9. Actually, I know at least one of you has a sandwich up here. There’s Which Wich, Firehouse, Blimpie’s, Subway, Quizno’s, Jimmy Johns, and Potbelly.
  10. 10. They’re all good. And I bet most of us would fail to match the sandwich to the logo in a focus group, even if we were eating it. We could do this with pizza, burgers, almost anything.
  11. 11. Without a context, it’s a good sandwich. But that’s all.! When people choose a restaurant, they’re thinking about the context. And that’s your brand.
  12. 12. In fact, did you see that thing that was going around the internet last week, where a couple of jokers in the Netherlands served McDonald’s to a bunch of “foodies?”
  13. 13. It was horrible. It was wonderful, but it was horrible.
  14. 14. They cut up McDonald’s stuff and served them at this food convention, to the people there who consider themselves real connoisseurs.
  15. 15. It was pretty embarrassing for the foodies.
  16. 16. But it’s also terrifying, right? Any of us might have fallen for that.! ! The food was out of context.
  17. 17. Ever been to Chicago? This is on Michigan Avenue. How can you possibly decide? I know I would fail a taste test of these two coffees. How can I choose one over the other?
  18. 18. I choose based on what I expect from the experience as a whole—what I know about Starbucks and Caribou as companies, as brands. And I’m looking for a brand experience.
  19. 19. Moments ! uh… And every experience is just made up of moments. Marketing moments.! In fact, I have divided up every marketing moment a typical restaurant has to work with.
  20. 20. 18 ! uh… I think there are 18 Marketing Moments. That’s 18 chances to help a customer “get” the experience you offer, starting from when they’re not even thinking about food to when they drive away.
  21. 21. Here’s something that happened to me. My wife and I were looking for lunch, and I like a little coffee after lunch, and we were in an unfamiliar place. So we drove to where the restaurants are.
  22. 22. “Look, a Starbucks with some decent restaurants next to it. Let’s just go there,” one of us said. So we parked, with no idea which of these two we were going to eat at.
  23. 23. All we knew is we were going to eat at a restaurant that started with the letter “Q.”
  24. 24. But neither of these restaurants—and I don’t mean to offend anyone—had given us a reason to choose them. We were open to subs OR burritos. We knew they’d cost about the same.
  25. 25. So as we locked the car and started walking toward the restaurants, we still hadn’t decided. We were completely okay to walk slightly left or right—they’d both be good.
  26. 26. A Marketing MOMENT ! uh… This would be the perfect time for some marketing to kick in, and help us make our decision.
  27. 27. But all we knew was that both places sold decent food. We had no basic beliefs about them. If you don’t know who you are, why you exist, and why people like you, that’s what happens.
  28. 28. You just end up speaking to people in a generically positive tone. ! And you blend in with everyone else who speaks the same way.
  29. 29. Pictures of food. Puns. Prices. New products. Vaguely positive feelings.! ! They’re all the same. They all blend together.
  30. 30. And that’s fine. People know what’s going on. ! Everyone has grown up understanding how marketing works.
  31. 31. People usually won’t, like, resent you for being generically positive. ! They just won’t care whether they go to the Q restaurant on the left, or right.
  32. 32. What a waste of those 18 Marketing Moments.
  33. 33. So (this is from the email with the NRA people discussing what I would talk about) let’s talk about what to do about that. Action steps.
  34. 34. To drive more “experiences” ! uh… You want people to know what kind of experience they’ll have at your restaurant. Not just the food. You’ll sell food once they get there. But why you? Why Starbucks? Why Caribou?
  35. 35. Two Things To Stop doing, And one important thing to start. and How Do you talk? ! uh… Here’s action steps.
  36. 36. Two Things To Stop doing, And one important thing to start. and How Do you talk? ! uh… Here they come.
  37. 37. 1. ! uh… Number One.! ! So important, I made it #1.
  38. 38. Stop ! uh…
  39. 39. Saying ! uh…
  40. 40. “Delicious” ! uh… Just don’t type it. Don’t approve it. Don’t let yourself utter or print or speak or think it. Encourage colleagues to shut up if they say it.! Ban it.
  41. 41. 2. ! uh…
  42. 42. Stop ! uh…
  43. 43. Being ! uh…
  44. 44. Generic-sounding ! uh… And don’t stop with banning the word “delicious” from your vocabulary. ! Also don’t settle for vaguely positive, pun-driven, price-and-ingredient photos of food. They’re all the same. Generic.
  45. 45. 3. ! uh…
  46. 46. Start ! uh…
  47. 47. …okay, we’ll get to that. ! uh… Okay, #3 is a little more complicated.
  48. 48. So. The word “delicious.” ! ! Why do I hate it?
  49. 49. Well, I don’t always hate it.
  50. 50. If you have a big hat in your parking lot with your name and neon tubes bent in the shape of the letters of the word “Delicious,” then okay. I love this sign.
  51. 51. But if not, the problem is, the word is not effective. People don’t hear it.
  52. 52. “Delicious” Is Your Opinion. and what to do instead ! uh… Since fourth grade, people have been taught the difference between a fact and an opinion. Third grade? Second grade?
  53. 53. If a mean food critic—like this guy, from the movie Ratatouille—says the food is “delicious,” maybe they’ll believe him. !B ut not you.
  54. 54. They get what you’re doing. They know you WANT them to think the food is delicious. But they know that it’s subjective, and you have a vested interest, and it’s just your opinion.
  55. 55. They grew up in America. And they’ve seen the Arby’s hat. They know that just because you say it’s delicious has nothing to do with whether it’s delicious.
  56. 56. And you’re just talking the way every restaurant tends to talk.! ! Vaguely, generically positive words trying to tell them what to think.
  57. 57. IF YOU SOUND LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT THAT DIFFERENT. and what to do instead ! uh… Which is fine.! ! Except.
  58. 58. IF YOU SOUND LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT THAT DIFFERENT. and what to do instead ! uh… It confirms the consumer’s belief that there’s no reason to choose you over anybody else: Which Q restaurant should we go to? Doesn’t matter. They’re not that different. Right?
  59. 59. So what should you do? This. Go back, and look at your menu, and that radio ad on your desk for approval. Talk to your social media community managers. And tell them…
  60. 60. 15 food cliché words to never use. ! uh… Just stop using these 15 words. It’s that simple. Stop saying the following 15 words.! ! That’s an action step.
  61. 61. “Delicious” ! uh…
  62. 62. “DELECTABLE” ! uh…
  63. 63. “SUCCULENT” ! uh…
  64. 64. “SUMPTUOUS” ! uh… These first four are all opinion words.
  65. 65. “MOUTH-WATERING” ! uh… The “water” is saliva. ! ! Maybe let’s stop talking about saliva.
  66. 66. “PIPING HOT” ! uh… A lot of these words and phrases were assigned to us as the basic vocabulary of restaurant marketing long before our grandparents were born. What does this mean? Nobody who’s alive knows.
  67. 67. “GRILLED TO PERFECTION” ! uh… Perfection? Really? ! ! Every time?
  68. 68. “GRILLED TO PERFECTION” ! (ANYTHING “TO PERFECTION”) If that’s possible, then that’s worth a news story.! ! Probably it’s just hype.! People know what hype is.
  69. 69. “TASTE SENSATION/ CELEBRATION/EXPLOSION” ! uh… People grew up with hype.! ! They know they’ve never had a taste celebration, or if they did they were kids. Celebration? We’re celebrating?
  70. 70. “TREAT YOUR TASTEBUDS” ! uh… Again, let’s stop talking about the parts of the mouth. Tastebuds reside on the tongue, which forms an ovoid bolus in concert with the grinding of our jaws, prepping food for the esophagus. Ugh.
  71. 71. “GOLDEN BROWN/ TENDER FLAKY” ! uh… Even if it’s true, it’s been said too often.! Your plumber probably actually does provide Quality, Value and Service from A Name You Can Trust. But that’s not effective communication anymore.
  72. 72. “YUM(MY)” ! uh… Don’t talk like kids.
  73. 73. “PALATE-PLEASING” ! uh… Also, don’t talk like the critic in Ratatouille.
  74. 74. “LUSCIOUS” ! uh… Again, that’s both an opinion and hype.
  75. 75. “LIKE GRANDMA/MOM/OTHER FICTIONAL FEMALE RELATIVE USED TO MAKE” ! uh… And this one kills me. What if your recipe really is your grandma’s? Who’s going to believe you? It’s been taken from you. By overuse. By generic, cliché-driven communications.
  76. 76. I know you believe me, but I feel like I have to justify and offer support for my opinions.! You deserve facts. ! Here are some more screengrabs.
  77. 77. Piping hot. Are there hot pipes, like hot water pipes? Or is someone playing a pipe when it’s ready? Or does the server have piping around her blouse? What does it even mean? I still don’t know.
  78. 78. Succulent is the only word that can be used to describe shrimp, to the point that this menu uses it for both the salad at the top of the page….
  79. 79. ! Succulent. “Suck” “You” “Lent.” Not a nice word. Let’s come up with a new one. And at the bottom of the page.
  80. 80. …so, like, on my deathbed, along with my sled Rosebud and wife and kids and this speech, I will remember—this Mandarin Chicken Salad from Wendy’s? It’s unforgettable! …it’s hype.
  81. 81. Warning. There is a possibility that the restaurant will fill with shards of taste blasting in every direction if somebody orders this. Taste shrapnel, blam, everywhere. Be careful out there.
  82. 82. So it’s not something I’m making up. It’s not a molehill I’m making into a marketing mountain. If you’ll pardon the expression (and the cliché).
  83. 83. 15 food cliché words to never use. ! uh… And all you have to do is not use them.
  84. 84. And not just speak in vaguely positive terms without committing to a specific branded expression. ! Just stop.
  85. 85. So I was telling my colleague at Young & Laramore, Tom Denari, who grew up marketing restaurants alongside me, what I was going to say to you people. And he said, “Devil’s Advocate…”
  86. 86. WON’T EVERYBODY STILL SOUND THE SAME? ! uh… Tom said, “If everyone stops saying those words, and just starts using different words, won't they start sounding the same again?” Good question. I think the answer is no.
  87. 87. By eliminating those clichés, you will be forced to figure out something substantive to say. Something relevant and interesting and ownable and uniquely yours to say. You’ll have to.
  88. 88. This is in the book, so you don’t have to write it down. It’s an exercise, and kind of a brutal one. But it forces you to back way up and think about why your restaurant even exists.
  89. 89. Why are you here? Why you? Why should people prefer your restaurant?
  90. 90. If you can’t tell what it is that makes you interesting to people, then, yes, it will be difficult to stop using those fifteen words.
  91. 91. If you can’t think of a reason for people to choose you, really, over someone else—a sub or a burrito, I don’t care, either is fine—then you have a fundamental issue.
  92. 92. If at the end of this flow chart you decide you “don’t need to exist,” you kind of have a problem. Or at least you have an alert that you should figure out a different way through the flow chart.
  93. 93. 3. ! uh… So that’s the third action step.
  94. 94. Start ! uh…
  95. 95. Talking like You. ! uh… Okay, that’s a vague action. Let me try again.
  96. 96. Start ! uh…
  97. 97. Saying the things only you Can say. ! uh… What can you say that no one else can? It might be fact-based, or it might actually just be a way you have of talking that nobody else can steal from you, that helps people “get” your brand.
  98. 98. And when will use this thing nobody else can say? ! ! After all, you probably can’t all afford expensive TV ads and great big social media gangs working night and day.
  99. 99. 18 moments ! uh… You have 18 chances to influence your customer. Some restaurants are better or more relevant at various moments, but if you are consistently yourself every time, that’s a brand.
  100. 100. A Brand Is an emotional relationship I can’t justify. uh… And what’s a brand? ! ! It’s a word we say a lot.! ! A lot.
  101. 101. A Brand Is an emotional relationship I can’t justify. uh… The brand is how I feel when I get involved with you. It’s my emotion when I give you money—how do I feel about myself when I engage with your company?
  102. 102. A Brand Is an emotional relationship I can’t justify. uh… It’s not a rational thing. People don’t dwell on it, don’t think about it. Most people can invent a rational justification, but mostly it’s just “Eh, I don’t know, I like them.” OR: “Meh, I don’t know.”
  103. 103. A Brand Is an emotional relationship I can’t justify. But it’s what makes me choose one “Q” over another. uh…
  104. 104. Okay. Here’s a thing to do. ! Kind of a game.
  105. 105. ACTION STEP ! uh… It’ll be interesting to see if everyone on your team can agree about this.! Maybe have everyone privately write their answer on a piece of paper before discussing it among yourselves.
  106. 106. 1 WORD ! uh… Can you boil down your brand and the simple message your company wants to get across to customers in every one of those 18 Marketing Moments to ONE WORD?
  107. 107. CHIPOTLE = _______ ! uh… The really effective brands can be fairly easily boiled down to a single word that sums up what their communications are about in pretty much every interaction you have with them. What’s Chipotle?
  108. 108. CHIPOTLE = ETHICAL ! uh…
  109. 109. TACO BELL = ________ ! uh…
  110. 110. TACO BELL = YOUTHFUL ! uh…
  111. 111. DOMINOS = _________ ! uh…
  112. 112. DOMINOS = IMPROVING ! uh…
  113. 113. ARBY’S = _____ ! uh…
  114. 114. ARBY’S = MEAT ! uh…
  115. 115. CARL’S JR. = _________ ! uh…
  116. 116. CARL’S JR. = …AWKWARD ! uh…
  117. 117. CARL’S JR. = HEDONISTIC ! uh…
  118. 118. You might or might not agree with my words. I can defend them, but the point is: what would your word be? Try it. ! So let’s summarize.
  119. 119. 1. stop relying on “Delicious” ! uh…
  120. 120. 2. stop relying on “generically positive” ! uh…
  121. 121. 3. Start Giving People A Reason to Choose Only You. ! uh…
  122. 122. 3. Start Giving People A Reason to Choose Only You. ! uh…
  123. 123. 3. Start Giving People A Reason to Choose Only You. ! uh…
  124. 124. 3. Start Giving People A Reason to Choose Only You. ! uh…
  125. 125. 3. Start Giving People A Reason to Choose Only You. ! uh… Why would they choose you instead of the restaurant next to you?! ! Consistently let them know.
  126. 126. You = _________ ! uh… People aren’t stupid. But they’re not weird, either. They just want to know what you’re all about. Then they can make a decision. What (simply put) are you about?
  127. 127. Selling ______ ! uh… Answer that and you can get beyond just selling food. ! ! You’re not a grocery store.! You’re selling eating.
  128. 128. Thank you… !! Thank you.
  129. 129. (Then there were a bunch of really intelligently phrased and intellectually engaging questions which I believe I at least did not fumble horribly while answering.)
  130. 130. “Fifteen Forbidden Food Clichés That Are Holding You Back” Charlie Hopper, Principal, Young & Laramore Advertising uh…
  131. 131. Contact: uh…
  132. 132. Twitter: @sellingeating ! uh…
  133. 133. “selling eating,” the book: Amazon, Kindle, iBooks ! uh…
  134. 134. Sign up for a Newsletter: That’s my blog, and actually I blog a fair amount. uh…
  135. 135. Again: Thank you… !! Thank you.
  136. 136. © 2014, Young & Laramore Advertising uh…