Your Customer’s Dream

Once upon a time, there were three partners in a restaurant venture. They all agreed that a college campus would be great place for their restaurant…

The first partner said, “We should have a hotdog cart. Low overhead, no rent, minimal staff, streamlined inventory. That’s the way to go!” The second partner said, “Well, a hotdog cart may leave money on the table. College students want to hang out with their friends while they eat. I think a fast casual restaurant would be better. That way, the menu can still be manageable, but the average meal will bring in more than a hotdog & a can of soda. Maybe we can cater too…” The third partner said, “I really like raspberry bars. And specialty coffee drinks. We could serve that along side the BBQ and mac & cheese, couldn’t we? What do you think about linen table clothes and real silverware? I bet college students would appreciate that.”

Well, as Goldilocks and all the college students will tell you, Partner #2 was right (although hotdog-cart-guy wasn’t far off). All entrepreneurs have a vision for their business. Usually something they’ve spent years dreaming about bringing to fruition. But if your vision does not match the vision/appetite/taste/needs of your customers, your business will not succeed. Before you open your doors (whether they be actual or virtual), you need to take a hard, honest look at whether your dream is your customers’ dream. You also need to take stock from time to time even if you’ve been in business for years.

Chili’s has done just that. They’ve launched a very interesting and engaging ad campaign to address their own assessment (or feedback from their customers, perhaps) that they had strayed from their original vision…from those core competencies which their customers loved…and which grew them to over 1600 locations since their inception in 1975 (thanks Wikipedia!).

Chili’s recognized that they had ventured down a path that they thought was a swell idea, but that caused their customer base to miss what made them love Chili’s in the first place. Rather than embark on a slick Jedi mind trick to redirect their audience back to their “re-rebrand,” instead, they owned it. They admitted that they’d gotten off track and were taking steps to return to their baby-back-baby-back-baby-back…

Check out the first commercial of the campaign. Fascinating. Never seen anything like it. Well done, Chili’s.