Thursday, March 12, 2009

In the News/Marketing Case Study

We kicked off with whats in the news. Its a bit aggravating because Richard asked a table to choose someone to lead the conversation -- public speaking and selling yourself and your ideas are part of the curriculum. But these students are so spineless and wishy washy, they can't choose someone so they all go up, 4 people timidly present one little article then the one comfortable person dominates for the rest of the exercise. If one of these scaredy cats were actually go by themselves, maybe they'd get the experience to be more comfortable! Anyway...

In Britain, dietitians are attacking poor old Nigela Lawson for not giving a flying f@ck about limiting fat at the expense of flavor. Judging for the picture above featured in the article, I'd say Nige is a bit pudgy and I'm quite all right with that!

The Times had a cool article on Cashew Chicken, the Chinese fast food staple that was invented by a Chinese cook in Missouri about 50 years ago, and it has gone on to become a signature dish of a whole region near the Ozarks. Weird.

The NY Post features some bon mots from a doctor touting the benefits of drinking alcohol. Can I get a "what-what?!" Can I get a "who da hat?!" With all the bad press booze has gotten since the beginning of time, there must be SOMETHING good about it to cause people to still drink it year after year.

The next part of the class was a video about three people opening a restaurant, an owner, a chef and a manager all with debt up to their eyeballs. They all have different visions, the are don't really communicate, the budget goes from $300k to $1.2 milly, and when the date to open arrives, they have no seating, an untrained staff, and no parking for a large suburban location. WTF? And yet, some how, they are successful. These videos only seem to show restaurants that thrive despite all the retarded mistakes they make, not because of them. Hmmm.

Next up, Richard ran through a marketing plan for a restaurant he consulted for, from SWOT analysis to analysis. We received a new text on supervision, which will be a new topic starting on Monday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The day started with odds n' ends, which is supposed to be idle discussion of our recent experiences in restaurants, though some of the less swift students still pull out newspaper clippings during this time -- are they so broke that they don't hit up restaurants?

Dave got some veal picatta the other day and in the first bite got a mouthful of cardboard stuck to the bottom of the meat. Patrick went to Ciprianni's with a friend and was shocked by the bad service, the crappy food and the $400 bill...for lunch. Richard spoke of a local restaurant (on the UWS) he hit up with a friend, a homey Latin joint. They noticed people in the restaurant drinking beer...out of paper bags. He also noticed a sign saying they were under new management. It seems when a restaurant changes ownership, they must reapply for a liquor license. When Richard asked if they served beer, the server gave a conspiratorial wink and delivered bottles in paper bags to the table. It seems that if a cop were to pass the restaurant, he could bust them if he saw booze being served...but if he only sees paper bags, he'd have to get a warrant to come in and search the bags for alcoholic content.

We chatted a bit about the annoying ServSafe exam we took on Monday (spelling errors! vague questions! unexpectedly easy!) then moved into more nitty gritty on marketing.

Marketing is all about finding and taking advantage of trends, as opposed to fads. Fads are a quirk, a spoke that comes on quick, rises and falls in a blink. Trends slowly build, sustain, and slowly fade away. Dance music is a trend. The Lambada is a fad. Trends and fads are results of consumer behavior.

We reviewed several models of consumer behavior. In quick succession, there is the Marshallian Economic Model: consumers are rational, as price decreases sales will rise, as the competitions prices fall, your prices will fall, and as you advertise more, your sales will rise. This doesn't always work -- if wagyu beef was listed at $9 for 30 oz, something would be very suspicious. People buy stuff like obscenely expensive watches simply because they are expensive. Fact is if you devalue your core product, consumers won't be willing to pay more for it in the future.

The Pavlovian Learning Model states that behavior is learned. Drives are strong internal stimuli, cues are weaker stimuli from within and the environment. A response is a reaction and reinforcement is positive or negative influence on the response.

Veblomian Sociopsychological Model states the social environment is all important. Trendy restaurants in the meat packing district are not places to eat good food so much as places to be seen.

The Howard-Sheth model of Buyer Behavior accounts for a large number of inputs and outputs, too many to recount here. The Nicosia Model states that the message given out by an institution contrasts with consumer predisposition to create certain results. For example, McDonalds took the name of a perfectly ordinary breed of cow and gave it's name to a burger - the Angus Beef McWhatever was the same old same old, but the message hit on a predisposition to think it meant something more.

The last hour of the class was dedicated to running through the seven steps for putting together a marketing plan.
  • Situation Analysis: where you are right now. SWOT - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. Who is the market? How is the competitor's product perceived?
  • Goals: General statement of hoped for results from marketing.
  • Objective: Measurable statement to help determine how much should be spent on marketing.
  • Strategies: how to reach the objective, specific techniques. Four base strategies: aim for target markets or new markets, focus on core products or develop new products.
  • Tactics: Action Plan. Down and dirty, the precise actions
  • Budget: Based on tactics, in line with objectives.
  • Evaluation: Can be built into tactics. That's why some shops ask for your zip code -- to see if their advertising in a certain area makes a difference.