Marketing 101: The Next Food Network Star

Those who know me well won’t be surprised that I’m slightly addicted to watching The Food Network. I was excited to see that The Next Food Network Star was starting a new season. I was surprised that my reaction to viewing the most recent segment was “This is a great marketing lesson for any business person!”

For those of you not familiar with the show, a group of people compete for the chance to have their own show on The Food Network. The contestants can come from any walk of life; a strong interest in food is all that is needed. Each week the contestants have to show off a combination of cooking skills and presentation skills. They are given feedback on how to improve and, unfortunately, one person is eliminated each week.

The latest segment had the contestants developing a burger and presenting it to a group of 100 people who would then “vote” for their choice by giving a token to the one person whose burger they wanted to try. Commerce at its best!

What interested me most was how the contestants chose to present their burgers. It was a classic demonstration of “Features” vs. “Benefits”. Those who did not do very well spent their two minute presentations reciting the ingredients in their burger, explaining how they made it and how it was important to them. I would describe this as a “Features” sell.

The successful contestants, however, understood that the audience didn’t care about the recipe. They cared about how it would taste … how it would make them feel. The winners evoked emotions. One, who is an accomplished barbeque chef, had people salivating as they imagined the marvelous burger they would get when they chose his creation. He didn’t spend his two minutes talking about himself or how he made the burger — he spent it explaining what the audience would get out of the burger — the “Benefits”.

This is a lesson for all marketers. We can never forget that our customers are interested in one thing: themselves. If I’m buying a new food additive for my product, I want to know how it is either going to make my job easier, my product better, my costs lower. Why is it important to ME? Sure it’s made from natural products … so what? Why is that important? How does it help me? How does it make me successful?

Never overestimate your audiences ability to draw conclusions about benefits themselves. It may seem obvious to you how your product will help your prospects; don’t count on it being obvious to them. Prospects have a lot of things on their minds. You need to make it clear to them in the first several seconds that you have something that they need.

Make those seconds count.

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