Monday, March 4

When A Waiter Knows Food

For me, marketing is all about building an emotionally-based, compelling brand experience.  This is never more apparent than in restaurants.

When you think about it, going to a restaurant is a highly emotional decision.  Rationally, it makes much more sense to eat at home.  But emotionally, we choose to go to a restaurant to be pampered, to experiment, to be entertained, to be social, or even just to be in the know.

We go to a restaurant for the experience.  We go back to a restaurant because we like the experience. We become loyal to a restaurant because it becomes our experience.

Sure, it's about the food, there's no doubt about that.  But it some ways the food is similar from restaurant to restaurant.  My apologies to the chef, because clearly good food preparation is differentiating. But it's the service that often sets the restaurant experience apart, if you will allow me.

Well actually it's the service combined with the food that makes for the experience.  And when the waiter knows the food, then the experience can often be all that much more incredible.

I was recently at a new place and just marveled at the knowledge of our waiter.  Sure the food was amazing, but it was the way he navigated us through the menu and helped us choose cocktails and wine and entrees and dessert that was just amazing.  He turned some very simple dishes and easy wine choices into a theater experience that just rolled out throughout the night.  And this was not an expensive place - just a place that knew how to build an experience for its customers.  A place that truly knew its customers.

Something all of us can inspire towards.  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

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