1. Be less perfect, more punk rock.
Many marketing departments focus on perfection. The perfect post, the most polished ad, the flawless selfie (as if there were such a thing).
As defined on the inter-webs:
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashion, and other forms of expression, visual art, dance, literature and film. It is largely characterised by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom, and is centred on a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock.
Don’t conform! Don’t create the perfect plan. Be loud, be aggressive, be different. Not having a strategy IS a strategy. You get much more serendipitous content, it seems much more genuine. Humans don’t have perfect editorial calendars, we’re sporadic, weird, and unpredictable. If you want to get people’s attention, be unpredictable; be human.
2. You don’t need a plan, you need a story.
Stop thinking about social media, start thinking about the stories you can tell. When most companies and people approach social media, they do it from a planning perspective. The problem with planning is that the sitution is almost certainly going to change and the plan will fall apart. Much smarter to focus on your story: the hero, the villain, and the insurmountable odds that must be overcome.
People like stories, people remember stories, stories are how we learn. Stop planning, start telling a story.
3. Know who you are before you communicate: it will define all your interactions.
In ‘Good to Great’, author Jim Collins dedicates an entire chapter to “First who, then what”. The classic story of “getting the right people on the bus”. In ‘Built to Last’ he said:
“Those who built visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.”
Defining “who” you are as an organization is difficult and many people in your organization may resist it. Whether you like it or not, your company has a “brand”, a personality, a way of doing things. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jeph! My company DOESN’T have a personality.” But not having a personality or refusing to recognize what makes you special is a personality trait in and of itself! (It just may not be the most valuable one.)
When you look at Leopold’s, you can see the weirdness, the different style of communication, the unique brand they’ve grown into. You can tell they know who they are.
4. Being weird will get people’s attention. Staying weird will keep people’s attention.
You can’t be afraid to put a something crazy on the menu, you never know what the customer will like. In the case of Leopold’s, their weirdness also comes from a relentless pursuit of all things extreme food. Extreme like a Pig, Cow, Chicken and Bacon burger challenge, with the prize being a polaroid of your awesome burger-eating self put up on the wall.
Over it’s short existence, Leopold’s has succeeded in introducing things to their menu that no Reginan has ever experienced. A Monday special of a Bucket of Bacon, a dynamic Wing price on Wednesdays, where each hour the wings get more expensive! Or a poutine special that changes each week, including a Turkey Dinner themed Poutine RIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS?! Sometimes they’re simply reckless!
They even have a very inclusive washroom policy at their OG location: if the Mens or the Womens is being used, you can just use the other if it’s free. I love that.
Their newest menu has the 5lb Poutine Monstrosity on it! YES 5 pounds of glorious Poutine. They are weird in a good way, but they also aren’t afraid to stay weird.
5. Don’t try to “attract” people to your establishment, build it where people are already.
Start with an iconic location, do your math on potential customers. If you need to “advertise” to get customers to your location, you’re already missing out. The thought of going to where your customers will be is smart and it doesn’t just go for brick and mortar businesses. Think of the online world, go to where your customers want to talk to you.
Most companies would setup an individual account for each new location. Not Leo’s! All the extra work of managing each Leo’s individually would be a nightmare. It takes confidence to refuse to “add” another account to manage knowing that it won’t help in the overall marketing of the company. I’m sure people at each new location probably say something along the lines of: “We need our OWN accounts to run!”. Sure it may help a couple people in a new city but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t do much. Plus, the central account will always have a bunch of great content to choose from from each location.
6. You shouldn’t need marketing to grow your business, the product should speak for itself… most of the time.
The exception to this rule is in some busy markets, you may have to actually let people know you exist before they’ll visit for the first time. After the first try though, they should be hooked. The Leo’s brand is remarkable, meaning you have to say something about it when you visit. It’s a one-of-a-kind place, decorated with local memorabilia from the location it’s situated in. A brilliant, scalable way to decorate a new establishment in ANY market.