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April 25, 2014
Here, Taste This: Don't Forget Process
 
It may be a timeworn concept, but once upon a time in marketing, there used to be something called a marketing mix, which contained four words starting with the letter P.

Many don't follow that formula anymore, and as an advertising creative it's not always top of mind. But when I as a consumer encountered one of the P words falling out of alignment when ordering a salad this past weekend, I was reminded that "You can do the best promotion in the world but that won't save you if the others are not pulling their weight."

Being the weekend, the service in this higher-end retail restaurant was slow, which is to be expected. But when the employee asked me, "the customer," to verify the ingredients of their premiere featured salad, it struck me as a breakdown in process.
 
Trying not to lose my patience, “That one,” I said politely, pointing to the high-resolution super graphic. No doubt the photo was taken with an expensive medium-format camera and the large list of ingredients was set in a sans-serif front for easy readability and icons for gluten and vegan the menu design were clearly well thought out. However, since that particular employee didn't know how to make the salad, it had me wondering if I was the first person to order it or if this was a flaw in their system.
 
Let's give that particular employee the benefit of the doubt that they may have been new. But when we got to the part where they put the dressing on, which was adobo lime, she asked three other employees and none of them knew. So another employee asked me, the customer, to taste the dressing and “tell them” if it was the right one.
 
I'm pretty sure my palette is refined enough to correctly pick lime out of a lineup, but honestly, one of the reasons I ordered that particular salad is that it was on the gluten-free menu. I wasn't about to go on a Russian roulette tasting spree knowing that most of them would make me sick.
 
So how, precisely, are my dietary adventures relevant here?
 
Well, it got me to thinking about process, and everybody from the brand manager to job searchers can benefit from examination of process. So let’s think about this:
 
For the Marketing Team:

 

  • Has positive user experience been tracked all the way through final sale?
  • Is your brand responsive to customer feedback or are you just going through the motions?
  • Are there small things like labeling the dressings you can do to help employees create a positive user experience?

For the Job Searcher:

  • Do you reply to listings and never follow up?
  • You don't need to chart your every move, but the sooner you track your process, the better. 

Remember, just like the big advertisers, you can spend time and money creating well-thought-out communications, but you can't forget the small things, like labeling your salad dressings.
 
Take, for example, the common mistake of labeling your resume a generic name such as "resume.pdf," which once downloaded to a Recruiter’s or Human Resources desktop is sure to blend in with the other condiments — I mean, candidates.
 
What’s the best way to avoid these seemingly minor hiccups?

The answer is to examine process. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand manager; a job searcher, or an intern. The basic technique is the same.
 
Picture yourself as the end client and backtrack the purchasing and/or the vetting process step by step. Roleplaying this model can be fun, but there is no need to get into cosplay or Dungeons & Dragons here. If you find a weak link, there is a good chance you don’t have an advertising problem, you’ve got a process problem.
 
As for the old marketing mix, my vote would be to add "Process" to that list.


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Peter Bossio is an Associate Creative Director/Art Director. He graduated from Syracuse University's Advertising Design program and attended intensive film/video production at Tisch School of the Arts. Peter has been a guest speaker at NYU School of Professional Studies and is president of his local Toastmasters Club. Want to connect with him? You'll likely find him on twitter @PeterBossio in a salsa club or at www.peterbossio.com.
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