It has happened twice in the last month to restaurants near me. Both closed suddenly, after their owners made huge investments of time and money in their dreams and visions. While this happens across the country to businesses every day, there are similarities between these restaurants that more than hit close to home. The similarities emphasize the importance of brand positioning and how it can either open new doors to customers, or close them.
Restaurant A was in a very popular and trendy northern suburb of Chicago. The owner was a first time restauranteur who bought the property and totally gutted it. New floors, tables, music stage, lighting – you name it. He wanted it to be known, or positioned, as a great restaurant with a lively bar and awesome music scene. Aside from the fact the food quality didn’t start out of the gate that great, people didn’t like that their meal was served with loud music and congestion from the crowded bar area. Was it a bar with decent food or a great restaurant with music? Turns out we’ll never know…he should have followed the lead of the previous owner who carved out a nice niche of being a cozy bar with decent munchies.
Restaurant B was located right in our office building, so I had the chance to witness its demise on a nightly, and painful basis, as I’d walk past a near empty dining room almost every evening. This owner’s vision was to create a fun, family-oriented 50’s diner right in downtown Arlington Heights. After pouring millions of dollars into the new spot, complete with a ’57 Chevy converted into dining booths, the restaurant closed less than a year later. Again, a case of poor brand positioning. While the brand was supposed to be a “fun, family diner,” the promise and promotion went undelivered. Even though the wait staff wore 50’s attire, that’s as far as it went. If you are familiar with Ed Debevic’s in Chicago, this was the total opposite. The prices were too high (enough to turn families off) and neon beer signs were everywhere (also turning off grandparents seeking to take their grandkids out for a fun meal). Plus, the food was unremarkable. Again, the questions of what do you want to be and to whom do you want to target were apparently never answered.
These classic tales of poor brand positioning cost these business owners millions of dollars and several lost years. For hospital marketing purposes, the stories and lessons are relevant.
- How is your hospital positioned and is it clear to the right audiences?
- Is the brand promise fulfilled in as many ways and touch points as possible?
- Is signage and other promotional elements supportive of the brand position and promise?
- As a healthcare provider, is your level of care and service great? These attributes are expected among your consumers as a “have to have,” not a “nice to have.” Just like good food in a restaurant.
- Are all the sensory ingredients in place in terms of noise levels, lighting, and even smells, as you position your hospital or healthcare entity?
A clear-cut brand position is vital to an organization’s success. It gives you the framework to work within the appeal to certain segments of the population and set you apart from your competition. Remember, strategy is sacrifice, and you can’t be all things to all people, like the restaurants above tried to be. Unfortunately, they learned the hard way and their restaurant brands went right down the disposal.