Of Cafes and Omelettes – A Tale Of Simple Marketing

Michael Rab is the owner of a small and friendly cafe just off the Finchley Road in Golders Green, London.

He’s been running his cafe for nearly 20 years and serves homely, honest and simple food to a wide variety of folk.

He is particularly famous for his beef pie, but if you’re passing by, ask for an omelette and watch the master at work.

Now, the question is, what has a cafe, beef pie and omelettes got to do with marketing? Let me explain…

In early December I travelled to the US to work with 3 of the top marketers on the planet. Between them they generated over $100m for their clients in 2014.

Of course, that meant a couple of long haul flights from the UK…

And that meant Movies. Lots of them!

The second (and best) of the three I watched on the flight home was called ‘ The Hundred Foot Journey’ starring Helen Mirren.

It too featured an omelette.

Part of the story concerns an owner of a Michelin starred restaurant who can tell a good chef from a bad one with a single bite of an omelette.

The chef in question passes the test with flying colours despite coming from a somewhat tatty, non-Michelin starred restaurant.

Cast your mind back to Michael’s friendly cafe. Over the last couple of years his trade has been slowly dwindling.

He doesn’t need much to survive (he’s a very modest man) but there is a bottom line in all businesses that must not be crossed, and he was coming close to it.

I should also add that Michael was once head waiter at the Dorchester, so he understands world class service – and that was obviously not the issue here.

But here’s the thing about business. The longer you’re in it, the more you find it difficult to focus on the important things.

The things that make you stand out. The things that make you or your brand unique.

The things that have the most impact on your success. The thing that brings the customers flooding in.

Walk down any high street today and you will see in an instant those businesses that have grown long in the tooth without noticing.

They will have a missing letter from the signage on the shop front. The paint may be a little tatty and probably peeling.

There may be a long out of date poster held on to the window by a piece of yellowing sellotape.

The part of the sign that says ‘Established 1922’ was also the date on which it was last painted.

In short, it looks tired and shabby.

But you don’t notice unless you’re a new customer seeing it for the first time.

So Michael called me in.

He was looking for a solution to get back his trade.

I took a quick look around and said “Michael, it needs a lick of paint.”

Fast forward a month or two right after my US trip and I return to take a look. The place is transformed. Business is up 30% and Michael starts telling me a story.

A story about a customer and an omelette.

This person had been coming to his cafe for years. She always ordered the same meal. Nothing changed in all that time. The cooking was identical. The chairs and tables were the same (and had not once been moved). But the cafe had very slowly started to fade.

Then like magic, one lick of paint (well, actually a whole bunch of weekends devoted to it) and things start to happen.

The woman who always ordered the same thing pops in as usual and says “You know Michael, I think today I fancy a change. I’ll have one of your omelettes”.

And the business takes off – and we haven’t even started on the marketing proper.

Like a supremely perfect omelette, sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to see the world anew.

If that’s you, I encourage you to grab a chance to join me in The Number One Club. Tell me what you want and we’ll work together to get it – no matter how long it takes. Here’s the link.

Or you can start on your own by getting a free copy of my book Legendary – CLICK HERE.

Quentin Pain

My earliest ambition was to become a rockstar (my band once backed The Waves who went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest). Unfortunately I decided to start a business to support my rock star dream, and as luck would have it, the business took off big time and the rock star dream died. I was 23. By the time I reached 50, my total business count was 6. The last one was Accountz that went from zero to 36,000 customers in 6 years. I now run ProofMEDIA Ltd and my specialism is copy that wins trust, engagement and long term sales. I'm also a published author (including a Dummies title), have won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year, and am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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