Over the last two weeks I have been enjoying some new audio books as part of the MBA on the Run program. It has been interesting to listen on my Ipod to the best in the business talk about marketing, advertising, and financial concepts while walking through local business districts. Earlier this week I walked through Old Town Temecula at lunch while listening to Seth Godin’s new book, “All Marketers Are Liars”.
The concept of Seth’s book is that businesses need to tell compelling stories to be successful in the new millennium. No longer are facts and figures enough… businesses must tell authentic stories to their customers. This was profound. Almost all of the shops and businesses in Old Town are unique. Each one should be telling a unique story… but they were not. All I saw was facts and figures strewn out around the landscape.
Many signs said “antiques and collectibles” while others said candy and others said hamburgers. As I was walking I found myself hungry and thirsty. I wanted something different to eat. After all I was in old town and there was no fast food joints to compel me to come in. All I saw was “facts” such as hamburgers, sodas, Mexican food etc. No one was telling me a story. No one was compelling me to come in and have lunch.
If a sign had said “delicious” hamburgers or “hand rolled” tortillas or even “worlds best” pastrami I would have been in there in a minute. There was no story… no reason to even come in. I walked past a Mexican Restaurant that I know has the best Carne Asada in Riverside county.. the only sign outside was one stating it was a cantina. Why don’t they tell everyone driving by that they have “melt in your mouth” carne asada, “warm fresh” tortillas and a “signature” salsa?
I continued walking down the one mile Old Town Strip looking for anybody to compel me to come in. Someone to offer me something that I couldn’t get at McDonalds or Burger King. I reached the other end of town, crossed the street and headed back the other direction. Seth’s words were playing in my ears and I became increasingly aware why most of the businesses were empty on a weekday. This town didn’t have a compelling story… It really didn’t have much of a story at all. It was just different… and different wasn’t necessarily enough to get my business.
Seth’s book really came alive as I continued to walk. The marketing ideas of most of these businesses were as old as the adobe on the buildings. Just like Joe Friday… Just the facts ma’m. I continued to walk and I soon reached the other end of town. I had seen some interesting adjectives in front of business names such as “mad” or “sweet” but nothing as far as the food or drink.
As crazy as it may sound I ended up eating lunch at the new Starbuck’s at the end of town. Many people have told me a compelling story about Starbuck’s sandwiches and I just had to try one. This new Starbucks is in a historic building but their marketing is legendary. Starbucks had a huge crowd and I found it somewhat sad that nobody else in this unique business district was telling much of a story. At least for a visitor walking through town.