Gordon Ramsay’s Not Alone With Nightmares

Poor old Gordon…

Kitchen Knife

Gordon Ramsay has his kitchen nightmares to deal with on the telly.

But he’s not the only one who gets invited in and finds things are not as good as they should be.

There are plenty of marketing ‘nightmares’ out there, too.

I’m not a huge fan of Gordon’s show. I just happened to be at my local independent garage waiting for ┬ásome new tyres to be put on my car. And in the customer reception area there was a large flat screen TV on. ‘USA Kitchen Nightmares’ was on.

And seeing the episode unfold reminded me not just how much the show relies on a formula and set structure. It also revealed how any form of consultancy works.

Gordon Ramsay gets called in because a restaurant is failing and the owner (or owners) are desperate for a turnaround in fortunes.

The programme follows the classic 3-stage consultant process.

Consult. Diagnose. Prescribe.

Gordon meets the staff and the owners. He asks them questions.

Gordon tastes some dishes from the (usually huge) menu.

Gordon takes a first look at the kitchen.

What he discovers seems to be the same thing in most or all of the restaurants and diners he visits.

The food lacks quality.

The service can be poor.

The attitude of some staff and/or owners can be bad.

Then Gordon gets to see a full service with his own eyes. He gets to see how the kitchen operates. He gets to see how the owners and staff work as a team.

It’s usually at this point when the title of the show seems most apt. The service usually ends in disaster, desperation and despondency.

After the diagnosis – bad food, bad service, bad attitude, bad teamwork, bad kitchen processes – it’s time for the prescription.

The solution typically goes like this…

Trim the menu. Fewer dishes on it.

Stop microwaving or using frozen food and start using fresh ingredients.

Serve good-sized portions – not HUGE platefuls. Quality over quantity.

Have a clear system in place for service. Ensure everyone knows what they are meant to be doing.

Work together as a team. Communicate. Talk to each other.

Provide a warm and inviting welcome. Deliver great customer service. Make customers feel special.

And, of course (if you have watched the show) there is the seemingly mandatory makeover. It involves one or more of the following…

Change the decor. Change the layout. Change the tables and chairs. Change the look. Change the feel. Change the sign outside. Change the kitchen equipment. Change the furnishings.

The programme usually ends with the restaurant feeling confident about turning things around. And the voiced-over update at the finish more often than not shows a bright future for the business.

As Gordon might say, “Job done”.

If there are TV producers around they might want to consider bringing in a heavyweight marketing or copywriting ‘celebrity’ and following the same format.

“Drayton’s Marketing Nightmares” or “Clayton’s Copy Nightmares”.

The programme opens with a business and it’s clear that their marketing is not up to scratch. They’re either not doing enough of it or throwing money at the thing but not seeing the results.

Enter the expert to come along and fix things.

Consult. Diagnose. Prescribe.

The marketing guru or copywriting genius would ask to see all the marketing materials – online and offline – that the business is using.

What has worked? What’s not worked? Why are they doing this? Why are they NOT doing that?

Once the expert consultant has the picture of what’s going on, it’s time to diagnose.

It could be too little marketing. Too much marketing (of the wrong kind).

Lack of quality in design. In the copy.

Poor choice of medium for sending the message.

Lack of knowledge and understanding about the target audience. Or a lack of a target audience.

The wrong focus.

Using Social Media with ZERO or little strategic purpose behind it.

Failing to use other marketing and copywriting ‘ingredients’ which would have a much better chance of success.

Failing to accept or acknowledge there is a problem.

And the prescription?

It would probably go something like this.

Strip everything back.

Use fewer words. (And know when to use longer copy).

Get to know your prospects, customers and clients better.

Find out more about how they buy.

Start talking to them where they are in the buying process. Get into the mind of the buyer.

Use more emotional triggers.

Have a strong angle or theme for your messages.

Get your positioning right before you write, talk and sell.

Find out where your people hang out. Then, and only then, work out the best way to find them and reach them (hint: it might NOT be social media).

And here’s the thing. You might not be able to afford a Drayton, a Clayton or an Alan Forrest Smith.

But you can find a copywriter who also consults very easily.

You may know him. He’s not far from this website.

If your marketing is a bit of a nightmare do not panic. STOP what you are doing. Stop throwing good money after bad.

Get an expert eye in.

Sometimes you are just too close to your business you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Doing nothing might get you called Gordon (for the wrong reasons).

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