Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why doing business online is just like Ribfest

Today is the start of something every office worker in downtown Ottawa dreams about all year - Ribfest

About six or eight different BBQ places set up shop on Sparks Street and hundreds of people line up for the chance to taste smoked ribs, pulled pork and chicken.Oh, and one place had brisket but I'm saving that for tomorrow because I love brisket. 

I couldn't help but think about how a Ribfest is like doing business on the Internet.  

1)  Validation: As you can see the picture, every BBQ place has a huge sign with all sorts of awards, praise and validation that seeks to provide them with some credibility.  Many of the BBQ places had tables and tables of awards.  What kinds of things are you doing to provide validation that you're good at what you do? 

2) What Have You Done Lately?  People don't care that you won something or were popular three years ago.  We want to know what you have done lately.  In the above example, they proudly state that won best chicken last year, not three years ago.  If your site still has awards and praise you won back in the previous decade, maybe you need to seek out something more recent?

3) Loud Branding and Design:  I'm sure the Apple freaks won't agree but Apple probably wouldn't sell a single rack of ribs at a Ribfest.  I love their branding and design but in a crowded street you have only two or three seconds to get somebody's attention and so you better use loud design and branding to do it.  However, I should point out that good designers make good money for a reason and if you don't use a good designer, you'll end up looking like that guy at the cocktail party with an "I'm with stupid" t-shirt. 

4) Service Still Matters: I'm sure that most people who lined up today will do it again tomorrow and Friday.  With every place selling a largely undifferentiated product (sure, they have slightly different product but it is still ribs, pulled pork and chicken) service and the whole customer experience is what will keep them coming back when they could just as easily walk two feet and go somewhere.  Personality can still shine through on the web and so you need to think about what your online personality is like.

Anyways, I have a full belly of ribs and pulled pork... but how do you think Ribfest approximates selling online?

update: wow, just read this over and had to make a few edits.  Never write when drunk on pork. 
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