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“Can I See The Menu?”

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I had a (glorious) client meeting the other day at The Cellar in Macy’s, which is a restaurant in, well, the cellar of Macy’s in NYC. I was quite early so I stood in front waiting for my client to arrive while also observing the interactions between passersby and the hostesses standing outside the entrance of the joint. In the span of 20 minutes, there must have been 5 or 6 folks who asked the ubiquitous question when deciding whether or not to patronize an eatery – “Can I see the menu?” And every single time the hostess simply handed out the menu and stepped back.

I just don’t get it. This has to be a very common occurrence (especially in a city like New York, where menus are consistently displayed outside venues), yet it’s almost never treated as the extremely important moment that it is. If you view this entire process as a sales cycle, this is the presentation / close part. Why, then, do we not see more marketing effort placed on this interaction?

If you simply position your regular menu out there to be judged on its own merit, you are leaving too much to chance, as I see it. You are assuming the reader understands the language, ingredients and dishes, and you are positioning just a handful of words as the final barrier between you and a potential sale. Silly.

Why not take this opportunity to grab some attention, do something extraordinary, give potential customers every reason to come inside (hell, give em no choice!)? Add more descriptors, include videos of your executive chef making/explaining a few key meals, publicize customer reviews and comments on specific dishes.

At the end of the day, this is a call to STOP, take a step back and analyze the psychology of the customer journey. We all get caught up in the daily operations of our businesses and that can sometimes result in having blinders on. But with just a few strategic tweaks, such as the menu example used here, you can disrupt everyday consumer expectations in an effective way.


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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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