Let's start with an exercise.
Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Now, set a timer for 15 seconds, and write down as many things as you can think of that are white. Ready? Go.
Next, think about your refrigerator. Set your timer for 15 seconds, and write down as many things as you can think of in your refrigerator that are white. Go.
What did you come up with? Is your "refrigerator" list bigger than your "anything" list? Was it easier to think of white objects in your refrigerator?
The fact is, even though a refrigerator is much smaller than the world at large, it's easier for people to think of objects inside the refrigerator. It's actually easier to think inside the box. This happens because of the concreteness of a refrigerator over the more general notion of everything.
When we're concrete with our blog posts, our videos, our phone calls, and our emails, they have a greater chance of making an impact with our buyers. The information they contain has a better chance of being retained.
Why does this happen?
Our minds work through association. We connect one thought or concept with another to string together a series of meanings. So, if we put messages together to match the way our brain makes these associations, the ideas we are trying to convey will have a better chance of sticking.
What does this mean for the foodservice industry and making an impact on our customers? It all starts with a few basic concepts.
Here are three things to consider to get your customers to remember your foodservice messaging:
Instead of talking with a school nutrition director about what kids like to eat these days, start with more specific examples. What do third graders like to eat?
The reality is, it's easier to conceptualize ways to help increase student participation when you actually put a face on the students. Similarly, it's easier to think of the 10 craziest things your son has ever done versus the 10 craziest things humans have ever done. As we saw above, sometimes we can get more concrete and have a greater impact when we think inside the box.
When was the last time you listened to the standard flight attendant message before a flight? It's probably been a while, and if you had to, you could probably even give the spiel. Every once in a while, though, a flight attendant will start with a shocking line to get your attention.
"If the air masks drop, we might be in bigger trouble than just a lack of oxygen."
That will certainly get your attention.
The idea is to be different. Be unexpected. Approach a solution or product from an angle your customers don't see. These are great techniques for getting someone's attention. In fact, I did it at the top of this page when I started this post with a short exercise. It was something you probably didn't expect to do at the beginning of a blog.
If being concrete is about thinking inside the box, being different is about thinking outside it.
Times have changed. People care about authenticity, especially Millennials. Be credible. Be real. Be sincere. And be authentic.
Sometimes that takes credentials or testimonials. Sometimes it takes a level of transparency, similar to what we've seen in restaurant designs with open kitchens and moving ingredients to the front of the house. Sometimes it takes a willingness to listen and learn. And sometimes it takes a simple tone of voice that lets people know you're being you.
If your brand of coffee is all about single origin and sustainability, don't come across as a commodity. Likewise, if your line of walk-in refrigeration is built on being cost effective, don't highlight language that talks about customization.
Getting your buyers to listen depends on what you choose to say.