My friend Blaine Parker isn’t just a superb voice actor, he’s also a gifted writer and a superb marketing mind. Over the last couple of years I’ve re-published (with his permission) several of his columns. Today is another. And if you read all the way to the end, you’ll find something that might make the journey even more worthwhile than usual. So, without further ado …
WHERE THE WHILE MONEY THINGS ARE, by Blaine Parker
I’VE JUST SEEN A MONEY MILL IN OPERATION
As we all know, the restaurant business is hurting.
You wouldn’t know it by the way they’re packing it in at a place on the edge of Hollywood–a place named for a common class of wild animal.
I was in there Friday night with some friends who knew the owner–a woman whom they hadn’t seen in almost two decades. She and one of my friends happened to run into each other that morning. She said to come on round to her place and she’d buy the lads a couple of drinks.
After fighting to find a parking space about a quarter mile away, I walked to the restaurant–and proceeded to fight my way in the door.
The place was bursting at the seams.
Every table was full. The bar was packed. People were standing (including me).
Earlier, when I’d mentioned where I was going, someone had said, “Oh, I know that place. That’s a hipster joint.”
Calling it so implies a lot of posing and affectation and not a lot of happiness.
THIS WAS NO HIPSTER JOINT
Indeed, there were some hipsters. This is, after all, Hollywood.
But the crowd was mainly normal (for Hollywood) people, packed cheek-to-jowl.
The crowd skewed a little young. There were a lot of 20-somethings.
But there were also people old enough to know better.
Everyone in the place was happy. No hipster posing.
And everyone working the place was working like a maniac. They were moving as fast as they could, and all the service was with a smile.
I was marveling at this, when I finally met my friend’s friend, the owner. She came behind the bar to greet us and help out her bar staff.
SHE WAS THE ELECTRIFIED NUCLEUS OF THIS HUMMING, ENERGIZED MACHINE
She was excited, she was happy, and she was working her people with a degree of hustle and fire unmatched by any similar operation I’ve ever seen. (And while she doesn’t show it, she’s probably pushing 60–making her unceasing energy all the more impressive.)
It’s easy to discount a place as a “hipster joint” when there happen to be hipsters in evidence.
This was no hipster joint. This was a happy joint.
The staff was happy. The patrons were happy. The air in the place was charged with happiness electrons humming from wall-to-wall.
And there was no doubting it: the reason for the success of this place hinges directly on the owner, who has built it up around her own personal brand.
ONCE AGAIN, THE ENTREPRENEURIAL HELMSMAN INFORMS AND INFUSES
We’ve talked about this previously–how the driving personality behind the company dictates everything about the brand.
The high profile example we’ve used is Sir Richard Branson. The Virgin airlines are a distinct and unmistakable reflection of who Sir Richard is.
And while he has billions of dollars coursing through the corporate veins and a legion of marketing people to help chart the course of that brand, he’s still The Man.
He’s the reason Virgin is everything it is.
The same goes for any small business–only more so, because the business is so close to the owner.
Everything about the company culture, the marketing, the treatment of customers and–ultimately–the business’s success in a recession i
s linked to the owner’s brand personality.
And I was sitting there in Hollywood, watching a recessionary success in action.
It was astonishing.
A place in a frequently unhappy town packed to the gills with happy people–all because the proprietor insisted on bringing happy to the table.
AN OBJECT LESSON FOR ANY SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
You’ve heard the expression, “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.”
This restaurant, which is slamming like crazy in a time when others are shutting their doors, is a brilliant example of where the sizzle comes from.
It comes from the heart of the beast.
Howard Schultz’s Starbucks story is called Pour Your Heart Into It.
It’s an excellent directive.
Just make sure to keep a smile on it, and pour it out into the hearts of your employees who serve it up to your customers.
There are many factors that contribute to success–but none as vital as informing a brand with joyous servitude.
Your Short, Fat Creative Director in
The above came from Blaine’s newsletter called HOT POINTS. If you would like to get HOT POINTS directly, visit Blaine’s Slow Burn Blog.