What Crazy Chef – Gordon Ramsay – Has Taught Me About Online Marketing

In the background this evening is Ramsay’s kitchen nightmares playing on the TV.

For those who have not been blessed with the acne scarred, expletive derived, Michelin star holding master chef – this post is about a restaurant expert coming in to put things right.  How it relates to digital marketing? You’ll see.

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Gordon is travelling around the US visiting SMEs and owner operator restaurants. It’s brutal truth as always with expletives in every sentence. Yet…

There are main themes that come through that I would relate back to digital marketing.

  1. Of course his expertise means he can comment on quality and that is step one that many of us forget. User surveys, customer insights and anecdotal comments at client meetings all need to be collected and aggregated.

    We need to understand explicitly what customers feel about your web presence and work to prioritise improvements. Including users within the organisation!

  2. The second point is that NONE of the owners have an exacting view over costs and income. At either end they are throwing away good food or not catering to the right market and missing income, or don’t even know their income.

    Having a clear understanding of cost per acquisition, how many of your warm leads are converted to sales or even how many conversions you get from PR, PPC, SEO or Social is paramount to selling ‘marketing’ to your colleagues.

  3. The third is finding your USP, what differentiates you from competitors, direct or indirect. Ramsay brings the basics: fresh, seasoned and tasty. Yet every restaurant brings its own twist. Be it Michelin star presentation, hyper local produce or just like Momma makes.

    More often than not, once Ramsay has been through they’re leading on price and offering top quality and service.

    Likewise, we need to have a fresh take, content and aggregation that can’t be found elsewhere. We also need to support this with well managed PPC and SEO to feed the sales loop to be ahead of competitors.

  4. As I watch Gordon work his way around the restaurant each staff member openly shares their thoughts on what’s wrong, and very few seem horrifically off the mark. Flattening hierarchies and asking for feedback from the front line is paramount with your online channels as well. Open communication is needed about how hard it is to run with an incomplete lead, how hard the analytics are to understand, or simply how long it takes to publish. All reflect on your end website and service.
  5. The main underlying point though seems to be stepping back from the routine to focus on what could we do differently. Doing this seals the episode.

    If we could all schedule a monthly day-long growth hacking session, where the day to day grind is completely dismissed, I am sure that our digital marketing will grow from strength to strength. Innovate.

As Henry Ford said –

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Strategy vs. tactical implementation in digital marketing

We face a fine line right now between Minimal Viable Product or Post and launching something with no sequel.

For those close to the software and technology sectors Eric’s Lean Startup and Agile principles push us to launch a product that will bring SIGNIFICANT value to the user but under the premise of minimal viable product. Make it “good enough”.

Costs, ROI and resources are ever more scrutinised. Despite this the #agilemarketing hashtag and the cause is still grass roots in volume despite the Klout scores of those involved and its ability to provide measurable returns.

I am scrum trained and an agile proponent as a product owner. Yet I can’t help but feel that there is a scalability issue vs. overall business strategy. Unless agile is embedded throughout the organisation.

Agile is a project management method that is hard to beat at a tatictal level. A Kanban or agile approach to “what needs fixing” on an existing website can be very effective and a base for building an understanding of agile within the organisation.

Yet try to explain this or fit it into an annual marketing plan or 5 year strategy and well…

In a way some of the basic principals of agile can be refreshing to an organisation battling priorities.

  1. Your backlog (list of things to do) is prioritised and you do the most valuable things first, not by who shouts loudest with the most seniority. Things that add value to the end user. It is however good to note that clients are not the only user. Your product or digital marketing has many users: clients, prospective employees and current employees. Fixing your CMS so that internal users can post content could be a high priority for example.
  2. The INVEST acronym defining a good story (the agile term for a set volume of work) means you’re investing in the right manor.
    • You break tasks in to Independent bites, you don’t end up waiting for someone else before you see the project complete.
    • You Negotiate, to understand how difficult those who have to do the task feel it is, conflicting values mean there’s more to it than meet the eye, and is raises flags.
    • Tasks must deliver Value to the end user or why do them at all!
    • Your tasks must be Estimable. To that end you should not attempt tasks who’s dimensions of success and scale are not well defined. E.G. “Make the website pop”
    • Small or sized, means tasks or “stories” are small enough to fit on a post-it. Refining a “register now” button to make it black is far easier than “fix our events site” as a task
    • finally the stories are Testable. Each one can be independently tested. Meaning we can see what ROI did we get from changing the register now button to green from red. This was possible because we defined success (and acceptance criteria) for the task before it was started

Starting out with Kanban, or Agile, and building your team into the process is the first step. With success and ROI your case builds and the groundswell develops. Those who’ve adopted agile see it as common sense, yet they all understand that common sense is rarely common or sensical.

But it’s with perseverance that the rest of the organisation will follow.