In a recent post at his blog, Seth Godin recounts the experience of arriving at a trendy restaurant for his 6:30 reservation. "We were promptly seated at the worst table in the place," he says, "in the back, in the corner, cramped by the kitchen." Though the restaurant was only a third full, the host rebuffed his request for a better—and unoccupied—table with the explanation that it was reserved.
"The chances, of course, that a particular table is reserved are close to zero," says Godin. "What he meant was, 'oh, we have a regular customer who deserves that table more than you.'"
For Godin, this raised the intriguing marketing question of who should get the "best table" your company has to offer. Do you give it to a valued loyal customer or a new customer who might be converted into a long-term client?
The answer, he says, is to please everyone by transforming lesser offerings into appealing alternatives. "Maybe the table in the worst location comes with a special menu or a special wine list or even a visit from the chef," he suggests. "Maybe the worst table, for some people, becomes the best table because of the way you treat people when they sit there." In other words, you might treat people differently, but nobody feels like they're getting the shaft.
The Po!nt: Says Godin, "No one wants to settle for the bad table, your worst salesperson, your second-rate items. Not the new customers and not the loyal ones."
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