Regular readers might already know this; but I enjoy cooking. I also enjoy exploring a variety of foods thanks to a thriving restaurant scene here in Louisville, KY. Some time ago, I was at a particular restaurant with a date. Upon hearing the specials from our server, I chose the sea bass while my date chose a dish from the regular menu.

We both decided the dish I ordered was the better of the two. We must have not been alone, because days later, that very dish was very favorably reviewed by a popular blogger. By the next week, the newspaper also published a favorable review, featuring an interview with the chef, and included the actual recipe for the dish. That next weekend, I bought all the ingredients and we had a dinner-date at home.

Though it was delicious; it wasn’t quite the same. So we made reservations to go back to the restaurant and pre-ordered the dish to make sure it was available. It was just as delicious as I remembered the first time. Maybe it was the excitement of the fancy restaurant that made it taste better, or the fact that I didn’t cook or clean. Or was it the cucumber-lemon water served at the table that shifted flavor receptors in our pallets? Perhaps hotter burners/ovens of the restaurant kitchen added to the crust and texture. Who can say how much these things enhanced the experience?

Humans are experiential beings. We associate complex emotions and input from multiple senses into our memories about key events. As my story depicts; it is not just about having everything checked off from a list, or following a recipe verbatim. While we both agree that the home dinner was very delicious; it merely a different experience.

No matter what you do; you can apply key elements of this anecdote to help grow your business.

  • Deliver a great experience – consistently.
    It is important to know that the restaurant has an advertising budget of approximately $0.00. They enjoy and protect a great reputation for dining experiences like this – they’ve been doing it like this day in and day out for more than a couple years. First-time customers quickly come back, and either share stories or invite new friends to join them.
  • Encourage customers to share their story.
    After receiving a great experience; most people want to talk about it and share it with friends/family. After sharing the story with another friend; he was the one who sent me blogger’s review and someone else clipped the recipe from the newspaper. With all the social tools available; it is easy to get instant reviews, check-ins, and post pictures on multiple channels that allow customers to share their experiences with vast connections. And it can be tracked with simple #Hashtags
  • Interact with them on a human level.
    After telling our server the story about making it at home and still coming back to enjoy it at the restaurant; she told us that we were not alone. Even though it is a simple recipe (as far as ingredients go) it takes some finesse to get it just perfect. When she presented our check, it included an invitation to their website where they regularly feature recipes for favorite dishes.
  • Give something for free – besides great experience.
    Offer the exact recipe, specific instructions, how-to’s, etc. Today’s technology allows for easy distribution of electronic files, books, and music. David Ogilvy, one of the forefathers of modern advertising famously posted full-page newspaper ads explaining his process for creating newspaper ads. One of the ways this attracted clients was for them to ask competing agencies to make an ad just like his. When clients received a less-than-perfect experience, there was only one place to go to get it right – just like we went back to the restaurant.

As I finish writing this; I am listening to the latest U2 album Songs of Innocence. Check your iTunes account as a free digital copy is being distributed to every user weeks before it is available for sale. I think it rocks!

What do you think this is going to do for album sales?

What are you doing to deliver a great experience to your customers?