Monday, June 20, 2011

Cooking & Sales

Check out this article from Pat McGraw:

Are you cooking up a recipe for success?

Posted: 13 Jun 2011 11:19 AM PDT

When my younger sister entered middle school, our mother decided she wanted to go back to work. And that meant that some days, our dad got home and cooked dinner. Now I love my dad but, God bless him, he isn’t a cook.

So I decided to give cooking a try and I turned to the cookbooks we had around the house. I figured, when you don’t know what to do, you go look at those that do know what they’re doing and you watch, learn and attempt to replicate. (And if the meal sucked, I had someone else to blame!)

Over time, as I grew more comfortable in the kitchen, I started to improvise. Add a little more of this, little less of that – I wonder what this would taste like if I added some of …

I asked my parents and my sister what they thought of my effort – did they like it? Did they notice that it had more of X or less of Y? Did it work for you? Would you like me to cook this again or would you rather I stick with the original recipe?

Based on that feedback, I developed my menu. Popular meals got heavy rotation, less popular meals got served up less frequently and the bombs were cut.

And I also paid attention to what my baseline recipe was, and how I modified it, so I could replicate the meal after it proved to be a hit.

Four decades later, I am happy to report no deaths and only a handful of occasions where the meal was pushed aside and an emergency call for pizza was placed.

I approach my career in sales and marketing the exact same way. When I get started, I look at the competition and figure out what they do right. Then I take a look at what I have in my own ‘refrigerator’ and figure out what I can prepare that will make my audience happy. Over time, I play with the recipe – sometimes focusing on certain ingredients more than others, other times going out and buying a little something extra to test out. My goal is to keep the base happy and (ideally) appeal to a wider base.

Now, when the meals (as well as the sales and marketing) are well received, everyone is happy and few questions are asked.

But when the meal (and the sales and marketing performance) aren’t meeting expectations, the questions get tougher and I find that I am being asked for a specific plan for turning things around. So I know what was changed, how it was received, and what needs to go back to the baseline because the change had a negative impact.

So what do you have cooking at your business? Are you testing some new ingredients? Will you be asking your diners what they thought of the meal and if they would order it again? And are you using that approach to attract a wider audience?

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