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Delivering a Product Vs Delivering an Experience

The Outside Caterers Product Blindness Mistake

I’d like you to think about whether you’re just delivering a product, or are you delivering an experience?

It came to mind recently when I was working with a client in the catering niche, and we were chatting around what do they do.

As an outside cater, we were also talking a little bit about the type of services and packages that they deliver, and they do catering for weddings, parties, corporate events, the usual event types that require catering with or without table service.

They do food only, with optional table and chairs, tablecloths, decoration, waiting for staff, et cetera.

We’ve all been to a corporate event or a private event that’s had a private caterer. As we were talking, and getting down to the value proposition, I asked the team,

“What do we do?” And as I often hear the reply of, “Well, we do outside catering.” 

So me playing Devil’s advocate, “What does that mean?” 

The reply was “Well, we go out to people’s events, and we cook or pre-prepared food, and we deliver that service.” 

I covered at the end of it, is that a job well done? And there were various discussions around that.

Different people said they do weddings; people said they do parties, corporate events, all the things and automotive dealership events, festival events, those type of social events.

They even do food trucks as well for those type of concerts where you can buy hamburgers as well.

I replied, “Can we clearly understand the client’s emotion?” 

And again, varying answers around the room.

“We’ve cooked meals or served X number of plates, associated drinks, that are part of the outside catering.

And then a lot of people said,

“Well, the events are broken down. We pack up; we clean up, we go from there.”

Missing the Clients Point of View

I’m saying, “Well, what have we missed?”

And this is what I want you to think about today: What have we missed?

This outside catering company did outside catering.

The service delivery focused on delivering what they sold, instead of providing the ‘experience’ of what they sold.

Let me give you a little bit more of an expanded example.

I sat down with the team and said, “Well, at the end of the day, what do people see?” 

Yeah, we ordered X number of plates or X number of drinks or X number of food trucks, for X number of hours, and we served that product.

Is that enough? The simple answer is No.

Focus On The Experience

What you should be thinking about is, what experience did people have?

How many people came up to the chefs or the service staff after and said,

‘You know, the way you cooked that beef or the way you presented that plate was phenomenal.” 

People don’t talk about what you do; they talk about what they experienced.

When people say to you, “What did you do this weekend?” You can say, “Oh, we had this awesome party and outside catering company, and we had this party the event was great, and we did this, that and the other.

They don’t talk about, “Oh, we hired this company to serve 300 plates or 300 drinks or put five food trucks outside.” They don’t talk about that. 

They talk about, Oh, wasn’t the hog roast great?

Or the taco stands excellent, or the way that that catering company presented the food. It tasted delicious.

They all gave us a little favours bag or doggie bag as you want to call it to go home with, with some new recipes in.

They gave us an excellent service, oh and the food was great too.

In these cases, you are creating an experience.

And too many businesses are focused on what they deliver instead of the experience that they create.

Take Time Out To Reconsider

To get focused on this, sit down with your team, or where you are most productive, in my case, I do a lot of my thinking here in the car.

That’s when I record these video episodes. I do an hour and 10 minutes to work most days, and this is my thinking time.

For you it may be something different, so maybe you sit down, find that quiet space, and ask yourself a question: are we just doing what we’re doing, or are we delivering an experience that the client would remember, and would want to buy again?

There’s a great saying by Walt Disney:

“Do what you do so well that people will want to see it again, and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney

Wow, look at that quote, it is right up there for sure. Disney is a dollar-making machine, so think about that.

The Project Funnel Experience

I look at it in our agency and recently we had a client who recently asked us and said,

“Mike, will you put a funnel in place for us?”

They didn’t want to come into a full retainer which is fine, no problem. We’re always happy to do a piece of project work to start with as a test case to prove the concept, providing there’s an opportunity to do a retainer afterwards.

But the point I’m getting here is, “Will you put a funnel in place,” so I cover “What are you trying to achieve?” the answer was “We want to get leads.” 

I say “But why? For what end goal? Are we trying to increase leads, are we trying to increase revenue?” 

Whatever it would be, there is a deeper goal. It’s about taking that time to understand what that experience expectation is.

Then the conversation expanded to me, asking “Who’s doing what?”

The client responded by stating

“Well, we want you to do everything.” 

  • Okay, so we’re doing the strategy? – Yes was the reply
  • Are we building the persona? – Yes was the reply
  • Are we making the assets? – Yes was the reply
  • Are we doing the paid traffic? – Yes was the reply
  • Are we doing the optimization? – Yes was the reply

“Great. Okay, so what’s your role in it, Mr Customer?” 

And the blank face was evident. “Well, that’s why we’re hiring you.” 

“Well no, your responsibility is just to take those leads, follow them up, so do we need to put a sales process in place behind that?

Do we need to train your sales team to take these inbound leads forward?” 

It’s about creating that experience. It’d be effortless for us to say, “Yeah, we’ll take the money, and we’ll just do the funnel,”

However, we’re actually trying to care about the experience that you’re getting out at the other end.

We’re not just saying, “We’ll build you a funnel, and that’s what you’ve ordered, that’s what you’ve paid for, so that’s what we’ve delivered,” and hopefully it will get that result.

We’re trying to create that experience that people say,

“Yeah, this company cares. They could have taken our money. They didn’t; they highlighted a lot of other things upfront.”

The process and service experience gave them an informed choice whether they decide to either share some of the responsibility internally, or pay us to do that extra work, but ultimately working to the third, and degree of why we’re doing it.

The experience, the satisfaction matters and is what I’m asking you to consider.

Mike Midgley

Mike Midgley is the Strategy Director at 6teen30 Digital and a dynamic digital entrepreneur, nxd, strategist, public speaker and host of TheOpenMike Podcast show & Co-Host at The Inbound Podcast. Mike has achieved successful six and seven-figure exits over a 25-year career, raised in excess of £1.6m [$2.5m] in Venture Capital and highly experienced with franchising.