Three years’ ago, Pret a Manger finally made it to Solihull. I always used to like to grab a Pret sandwich if I found myself in London, but it took them a little while to expand this far north. However, since they opened, the Pret on Solihull High Street has become the favourite hangout of my wife Sue, and many of her friends. They much prefer it to Starbucks, Costa or any of the other cafés and coffee shops that they could choose from. They’re regulars. Very regular.
Which is why, on a Saturday lunchtime in June I found myself in Pret, Solihull waiting for Sue and Tabitha, our daughter, to join me. I’d ordered the coffees (and a brownie!) and I was sat in there on my own when I started paying attention to all the pictures on the walls. They’re quite artistic shots of food, but rather than the imagery, it was the wording underneath that caught my attention. I ended up photographing some of them and you can see them on this page. They are part of a series of “Passion Facts” which, apparently, number at least 97 (although there’s only about 20 of them on the walls in Solihull).
This is really smart marketing.
What happens, in practice, is that most people that come in will look at and subliminally register at least a couple of these Passion Facts. It will probably only be the ones that are close to where they’re sitting, but because the walls are crowded with these pictures, every customer that comes into Pret is being educated on little things that that business does to differentiate itself and fulfil its apparent passion for fresh, tasty, healthy food.
It certainly got me thinking. You see, in all our businesses, there are things that we do which, after a while, we take for granted. We think it’s normal. And so we forget to tell our customers, or our prospects about it – and as a result, our marketing message is weakened.
I’ve spoken recently about when I got my very first pair of glasses, aged nine, and how it completely changed my life. But what I haven’t explained is that for the first nine years of my life I thought it was normal to not be able to see very well. I used to always get a seat on the front row of the classroom so that, if I squinted my eyes tightly enough, I could just about make out what was on the blackboard. I did wonder why everyone got so excited about going to football matches when, after my first visit to Elland Road, I couldn’t make out anything that was really going on, on the pitch. I
thought everyone was like that and it was only when I put those first pair of spectacles on, on that Saturday morning in 1975 and I saw that Mr Shaw’s house opposite was made of bricks, that my life was changed forever.
Don’t take for granted the little things that you do in your business.
Don’t assume that everyone knows that because you pay attention, in the same way that Pret say they do, to little details and techniques, that everyone knows about them, or else everyone else does it as well. (By the way, even if others do do it as well, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shout about it). Pret aren’t the first retailer to have in-shop recycling stations, for instance.
I hope I’m making sense here.
Because for many members there will be a huge opportunity to expand upon. Just by pausing and thinking and reflecting for a few moments, not so much on the what you do, but on the how you do it, you’ll be able to identify elements of the way you work that all your customers should know about – in exactly the same way that Pret do. And when you start telling people and explaining it to them, whether that’s through pictures on your wall, or little pieces in your monthly newsletter, you’ll start to educate your market and establish a position for yourself that could be every bit as strong as that that Pret has done.
I hope, sincerely, that I’ve articulated this well enough so that it makes sense because it genuinely is a really BIG marketing lesson of the month.