Be Honest. What’s Your Worst Entree?

When I go to a new restaurant, and I’m really not sure what to get because everything sounds pretty good, I’ve been known to ask the waiter, “What’s the entree on your menu that you think I should avoid?” My friends tend to scoff at this. “Why don’t you ask what’s good? Why are you asking him what’s bad?”

I promise I’m not a pessimistic person. But here’s the thing: I always get an honest answer from the waiter. If you ask what’s good, your waiter has been pre-programmed to exploit the evening’s specials (that’s just good marketing). Sometimes I’m told that there’s really not a bad entree on the menu, but other times I’ll hear that while perhaps the carne asada is OK, it’s not the best — but the chicken is out-of-this-world.

If you’ve ever participated in a strategic planning session, you’ve probably completed a SWOT analysis for your organization (or department). Without getting into too much detail, SWOT simply stands for the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that exist. You identify them, analyze them, and create a plan to promote your strengths, leverage your opportunities, overcome your weaknesses, and better understand (and possibly combat) your threats. To ignore, say, your weaknesses — or worse, to actually believe that you don’t have any weaknesses — would be egocentric and foolish. We simply can’t be all things to all people.

We simply can’t be all things to all people.

When I’m building out a marketing plan for a new product or service, I always ask, “What’s the worst entree on our menu?” We can choose to downplay that weakness as a non-necessity for the consumer, shift focus to our strengths which outweigh everything else, or seek ways to improve the weakness entirely. What we cannot do is simply ignore the weakness and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

What we cannot do is simply ignore the weakness and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

If we don’t own our shortcomings we miss out on a new opportunity to grow while also potentially attracting the wrong kind of customer. As Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen expressed in their Broadway musical, [title of show] (really the title, not a mistake), “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”

I’ll leave you with this awesome video compilation that is the result of a product (in this case, a theatrical musical) that truly understood itself and was able to attract the right audience for its content.

Jen Spencer is currently the Director of Marketing for Allbound, an innovative SaaS platform that simplifies and accelerates your ability to recruit, onboard, measure and grow your partners. Jen loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. You can follow her on Twitter @jenspencer.

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