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National Restaurant Association - Stay in the conversation to become a transcendent brand

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Stay in the conversation to become a transcendent brand

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John Moore, Marketing Pro

Fuel your restaurant’s success with stories that spark passion among guests and potential customers. Passion fuels conversations that can help your brand become transcendent, says long-time marketing pro John Moore.

Moore, who addressed the NRA’s fall 2014 Marketing Executives Group meeting, developed his brand-building and word-of-mouth expertise as a marketing manager for Starbucks, director of global marketing for Whole Foods Markets and consultant. At Brands on Fire consultancy, he helps restaurants and other clients build business, starting with ways to spark passion:

Sustain the passion conversation through story and strategy. “If you know your story, you know your strategy.”

Make your “founder’s story” part of your company’s lore. Many companies trace their passion to their founding or a crisis, but don’t always share that story. If you have a crisis point, "storify" it, and make sure everyone knows it, Moore recommends. For example, less than a year after opening, a flood wiped out the first Whole Foods Market. When the fledgling store thanked customers for their support and promised to return, employees and the community responded by volunteering to clean up the store. As a result, “Whole Floods” reopened a month later, eventually growing to 360 stores.

Figure out what kind of conversation sparks passion for your brand. If you have a new or complex brand or product, you to explain how the brand or product works: how, when and why to use it. For example, Hopdoddy Burger Bar staff explain the ordering/seating process, where customers wait in a line to order food and receive a table assignment.

Help guests make your story their story. Guest show their affinity for brands through what they buy and wear: from a concert t-shirt in high school to a Starbucks cup in the 1990s to a Whole Foods bag subtly displayed in a host’s kitchen. “It’s not just new school; it’s old school, too.” Consumers feel better about who they are by talking about brands they think are as distinct and unique as they are. “The more distinct your brand, the easier it is to project that uniqueness.” Your goal: Get people to talk about themselves through your brand – “that’s really where the passion comes in.”

Generate conversations through stories that emotions, such as humor. When people are overjoyed, they talk about it. If they dress up like a cow to win free food from Chick-fil-A, they share photos.

Scrap the marketing speak. Instead of getting caught up in SWOT analyses, design your brand as a superhero. Name the superhero, and give him or her a power (heroic deeds such as better customer service). Identify whom he or she protects, and what injustice he or she fights against. Then identify an arch villain and your superhero’s kryptonite. When a brand takes a stand, its point of difference becomes its point of view, and people start identifying with it. That sparks word-of-mouth and passion, so guests become superheroes for your brand.

Apply ancient Greek philosophy to your marketing. Think about what stories you can tell to show transcendent values of good, justice and beauty. What do you do to improve guests’ lives/serve people better? What do you for justice, to show truth or correct a wrong? What you do to make life beautiful/better?

If you deliver one of those stories, your business can be a success. If you deliver two, you can become a market leader. If you manage to tell all three, “you can become a transcendent brand – one that will always be in the conversation.”

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