My newest Food Service News food column has hit the streets, but if you haven't picked up a hard copy....just sit back and see if Klecko distributes any wisdom this month.
About a year ago, yours truly was tipping the scale heavier than ever.
Sure, I was aware of it, but a person can find a million justifications to delude their reality.
At work, my colleagues would give me grief by mocking my increased mass, but these guys were bakers so most of them were fat too.
Somehow I found it hard to take their insults seriously.
But when I went home, a whole new reality hit me. It started when my wife poked my stomach like I was the Pillsbury dough boy.
After ignoring these taunts of warning, the stakes were raised when she informed me….
“Hey Big Papi, you’re getting fat, not husky or thick…FAT, so if you want mama to give you some sugar…you better do something about that.”
To be honest, I don’t know what part was more embarrassing.
Letting myself go, or having to be informed by somebody else.
Let’s face it, nobody likes to be called names, but I gotta tell you. I knew she was right, so I manned up and joined a gym.
Since that time, I am proud to report that you can find Klecko lifting heavy objects 5-6 nights a week.
I might not be able to fit into my high school Levi’s quite yet, but I’m willing to bet that my modified arms and chest might qualify for a cameo on Jersey Shore.
The same analogy can be made in business. Sometimes success can make us a little soft. When this occurs, I don’t think a minor face lift is out of order.
I’ve been with the same concept for over twenty years now. We’ve had three different sets of ownership and a thousand different opinions steer us to where we are today.
I think if you had to put a finger on what component has made us successful, some might say it was our customer service, while others might say it was our product selection.
New Flash….there are a ton of people out there that can make the same claim, but with thirty years in “The Show” I think I can tell you, what not only makes people money, but what makes them relevant….
I know those eleven letters are already making some of you roll your eyes. That’s fine, but if you don’t listen up, you’re just going to let coins fall between your fingers.
Advertising will increase your sales quicker than any other principal you can apply to your concept, but the key is, you have to understand its power.
You have to learn how to harness it.
If you went out and bought a fishing pole today, that in itself wouldn’t put a walleye on your plate tonight.
First you would have to tow some boat that’s worth more than your house to a lake and ask the locals where the fish were biting.
The locals (are you catching that they are a metaphor describing your competitors?) probably wouldn’t be too anxious to assist you in your quest.
Under these circumstances, many people will just let fate determine their success. They’ll simply set that boat into the water and caste off into whatever direction the wind takes them.
This strategy isn’t just a waste of your resources, but of your time as well.
I can’t tell you how often people have approached me and said………
“You know Klecko, I’ve been running an ad for close to a year now and it hasn’t impacted my concept.”
I’ll usually ask them how they came to that determination, and the following is a pretty typical answer.
“Well, in all the time we’ve run our ad, nobody has come into the restaurant and mentioned it.”
Funny, I’ve purchase around 4000 antiperspirant sticks in my life, but I’ve never deemed it necessary to contact Old Spice and thank them.
Advertising isn’t some kind of Genies lamp that will magically force people to give you their money.
Advertising is more of an assistant to the things that your company already does well.
Once you determine what your strong area’s are, the next step is logical, plug that message into your audience.
I guess the best way for me to describe this is to explain to you what I have done myself.
Around a dozen years ago, I realized that if I was every going to make more
than the average food workers wage, I was going to have to grow the business where I worked.
Nobody told me to do this; I basically took the initiative without prompting.
This was back in the days when I touted myself as the Lord of the Sourdoughs.
For awhile, I’ll bet I did close to 100 demo’s a year.
During this process, one of the first observations I made was that almost everybody I spoke with had a favorite bakery, but yet none of these people could name a single baker.
How odd is that? If you asked these people to name chefs, they’d easily blurt off a dozen.
But who knows?
Maybe there’s a social retardation that accompanies the baking industry. I guess it almost makes sense being that so many of its “Star Players “are at their best while the world sleeps.
Finding the proper medium to advertise in is essential. Since I was running a wholesale bakery that primarily services the Twin Cities….Food Service News seemed like the logical choice.
Realizing that the Twin Cities baking platform was void of specific baking character, I surrounded an entire year’s ad campaign around “Klecko – the man who feeds a city every day.”
At the same time, I also sent press releases to local media indicating that from this moment on, I was to be their contact any time a baking story needed a reference.
In addition to promising them an exhaustive amount of pull quotes, I also sent along clippings of my ad in Food Service News.
Journalists love to work with people who support their guild, and truth be told, if you don’t support their scene, see how long they’ll support yours.
Ad campaigns really need to change on an annual basis, the mob is Rome, and Rome is fickle my friends.
If you don’t have something new to throw to your audience base, you’ll become white noise and fade into the recess of their memory.
After I established the “Klecko Brand”, the following year I switched our campaign to give off a team vibe. Our next ten ads would have made you believe that this zany bread guy was supported by a full army.
About half way through this second campaign, our accounts grew exponentially.
Anything worth doing has a maturation process, and if you skip its puberty period, the body of your concept will become freakish.
Bottom line, there are no short cuts. You have to court your desired demographic, and that takes time.
If marketing is something that doesn’t come natural to you, hire somebody to assist you. Oftentimes publications selling as space will send an expert to your facility.
Remember, they don’t make money, if you don’t make money.
If you have the eyes to see how valuable advertising is, you’ll never stop.
Today, yours truly isn’t a kid anymore. In fact, many of the people I sell to are half my age.
The company I work for is no longer a novelty, and because we’ve established ourselves in the Twin Towns, our next hurdle is to make sure we don’t appear antiquated or stale.
That’s why we’ve actually expanded our advertising and our currently taking out quarter and half page ads in City Pages.
Different demographics are influenced through different mediums, and currently, I am focusing on “Generation Next.”
Our ads are youthful, metropolitan and filled with diversity.
The Apostle Paul said that all of us need to work out our own salvation.
The same can be said with advertising.
All of us are attached to business concepts that have identities as unique as snow flake patterns.
Figure out which one of them best represents your message and get it in print.
In closing, I just want to send a friendly reminder to my esteemed peers that have enjoyed some success. When things are stable, it’s easy to get comfortable, but that’s no excuse to ignore a world around us.
It’s changing every single day.