Why Masterchef works

Masterchef has truly been a phenomenon in Australia over the past 2 seasons. A ratings boon which is rare in our fragmented media environment. In fact it was watched by an average 3.54 million, up from 3.29 million last year. This makes it the most watched non sporting event in Australian history. It’s not hard to find a Masterchef fan, but not being one I was curious what all the fuss was about so I endured a few episodes. I didn’t catch the bug and so asked some colleagues why they believe (from an advertising, marketing and media perspective) it did so well. The best description I got was from Paul Gardner who summarised it as follows:

He said there has been three distinct phases in the evolution of reality TV.

1. Hoons & Havoc. Lock up a group of  highly charged youths in a house filled with alcohol and sexualy energy and see what happens. Think Big Brother.
2. The Challenge. Take a group of normal people outside of their comfort zone to compete in a Spartan like fashion.  See what behaviour humans will stoop to in order to win and prove superiority. An observation of social interaction at a draconian level. Think Survivor.
3. Denied Talent. Take a group of people who have some genuine flair for something, who have not been given the chance (for whatever reason) to display their talent. Give the competitors potential for a new start, to chance become entrepreneurs. Make the show inclusive, yet competitive. Add a sense of collaboration and educational good for all. Build a result into the show which isn’t purely financial but provides recognition and a new direction. Overall, make it represent the values of a modern civilised society. This is what Masterchef has done.

The thing that’s really impressive about Masterchef from a marketing perspective is that they took the well worn genre of ‘cooking’ understood the important nuances of human behaviour and made it something much bigger than anyone ever expected.


How not to run a promotion – the Chef’s Hat

I had a discussion with Luke Waldren who had a very poor customer service experience from the Chef’s Hat in Melbourne. For those who don’t know, the Chef’s Hat is regardred as the premier retailer in our city for restraunters, cafe owners and hard core Foodies. They sell a range of appliances and all things related to food retailing – except for the actual food.

Luke went down to buy a a Kitchen Aid appliance, for which he knew there was a promotion at the Chef’s Hat retail store. The offer was pretty simple: Buy a Kitchen Aid blender and recieve a free Kicthen Aid knife worth $49.95. A nice bonus offer for consumers. The offer is below – which mind you is on the front page of their website.

So when Luke arrives at the cash register to pay, there is no mention of the free knife. He then proceeds to ask and says. “Hey, isn’t there a free knife that comes with the blender.” The retail assistant claims no knowledge of the promotion. But luke brings out the iPhone and shows the bonus offer straight from their website as proof. The retail assistant then asks for the manager over the load speaker to come and help. When the manager arrives this is the conversation that transpired:

Retail assistant: “Are we giving away knives with these blenders?”

Manager: “if we have to…”

The manager then leans over to a draw filled with said knives, grabs one and throws it across the table to give to Luke. As though he got caught out. As though he lost one of his precious inventory to god forbid, a customer who entered the store because of the promotion.

If you are going to run a promotion. You have to mean it.

We have to advise those who didn’t know about it. We need to share the benefit with delight. We have to share the message that we go the extra mile and create more value than our competitors. If we are going to act like we don’t really want to participate, then we shouldn’t. Or worse, if we are going to treat our customers with disdain, then we’ll end up on blogs like this spreading the bad word.


Know what you’re selling

It was Friday night and I was having a drinks with colleagues who were discussing the relative taste profiles of various beers. I went on challenge the crowd that they wouldn’t know which beers was which in a blind taste test. None of them believed me.

Turns out it’s true. I once worked in a marketing role at Fosters, and 90% of beer drinkers cannot pick any brand within the same type (eg lager, pillsner, bitter ale). Beer is not bought on taste, it’s bought by brand. Sure, there are other factors which come into the decision like availability and price. But both trail and subsequent loyalty is never about taste.

So we have to know what we are selling. Not in the primary sense (the physical product) but in the secondary sense, the real motivation which makes us choose brand A over brand B. And in most categories it’s not what it seems

Beer = fashion

Electricity = company interactions

Coffee = socialisation

Cameras = memory library

For entrepreneurs the message is simple, we must know what we are selling. It’s most often how we market the secondary benefit which will drive our brand over the competitor.


Everything to everyone

We live in a wordy world. It seems there’s a new acronym, piece of business jargon, or self defining adjective emerging every minute of the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the language, the jargon and forget what business and startups are all about:

Building stuff. Buying something for $1 and selling it for $2. Having a laugh along the way.

Keep it simple. Don’t try and be everything to everyone.

With all this in mind I’ll hand over to George Carlin – and yes, this video is worth every second of the 3.56 minutes it takes to watch.


Customer empathy

My cousin recently purchased a new home. For most of us such a large financial commitment is quite overwhelming.

During the settlement process Chris had a discussion with his conveyancer about the impending transaction and the issues in his mind. His conveyancer said:

“Look, I know this isn’t the type of thing you do everyday, but I do. And I’ll make sure it runs smoothly and you get looked after.”

Such a simple statement showed terrific empathy. It built confidence in the service provider, and eased the mind of the customer. It’s this type of language which creates conversations and can set apart entrepreneurs.

Language matters. What language do you use?


beware of averages

If we added up all the men, and all the women on our planet, we’d find that, on average, the typical adult human being had exactly one breast and one testicle. Yet how many people actually fit that description?

Statistics are used the create meaning. Yet, very often they create the opposite. In a world for of numbers, statistics and analytics (yes, even the Google kind) we are better off deciding what we want to find out, than we are looking at the available statistics and asking what they mean.

Startup Blog says: First decide what you want to find out, then devise a way to measure it.


The art of innovation leadership

I was speaking with my brother today when he nailed the topic of innovation leadership in a few words.

He said; You can’t ask the market what they want, you need to invent it, build it and tell them why the future as you conceive it is better.

I really liked his sentiments.