Jan 16, 2020

What I (Re)Learned About Marketing From Opening A Butcher Shop

By: Polly Yakovich


At the end of the year, my husband and I finally opened the doors to our three-year labor of love - a butcher shop and restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, where we live.

I was excited and a bit nervous to take on the marketing for the shop. I spend all my time doing B2B marketing and I was curious about how those skills would translate to B2C. Here are three things I've (re)learned along the way:

1. Know Your Customer -

In the B2B world we talk about audience research and insights. And then frankly because it's hard and expensive, we often skip it. We tell ourselves we know our audience well enough. We can decide for them.

But in talking directly to customers at the butcher shop, seeing what they buy, asking what they like, and getting their feedback directly, I'm reminded how important it is to work with good information. How do we think we're going to create the right things for our audience without asking them? How could we possibly assume we know them? People are weird and mysterious - in all the best ways. The great news is that if we don't skip this step and do the research into what our customers (or our customers' customers) want, our jobs are 100x easier. Our work is more effective and impactful. It's a foundational step that we should fight against skipping.

2. It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect -

We've often talked about the Pareto principle, but it's more true than ever. We often delay launches, or campaigns because things aren't quite right. But getting to perfect is often more expensive than it's worth. People are generally forgiving. They are open to works in progress. They appreciate honesty and effort and you'll get a lot of response from your minimum viable product. Response that will help you make it better.

You can change things quickly, you can adapt and change on the fly. Nothing is forever. Most of the time it's better to get it out there so you can start learning from it and fixing it as you go. So press publish on that thing you've been agonizing over today!

3. We Are Human -

Yes the world is getting more complicated, algorithms are more sophisticated, and it's hard to stand out. But humans remain the same. We are relational, we are curious, we are kind, we are understanding. Stepping out from behind your computer to interact with people (especially your customers if you can) will teach you a lot about them, and a lot about yourself.

If you're feeling disconnected from your work, or your purpose, try making more human connections with your colleagues or customers. If you're feeling anxious about things being perfect, try asking for help. Share something imperfect, ask questions that don't have easy answers.

For me, reconnecting with some of these core principles has given me fresh eyes to see some obvious things that are easy to skip over. If you're feeling disconnected or disillusioned, try going deeper with any of these foundational principles and see if you don't find just a little more meaning in your work this week.

And if someone will lend you their cash register to run in a busy shop this weekend, you'll learn even more!



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