Pass That Barbecue Sauce

Here’s another “Fable Friday” about barbecue, shaving cream, and the brand promise.

Have you ever tasted KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce?  It’s quite delicious.  Who do you think makes it?  When I ask learners in my seminars, they often guess Heinz or Kraft.  Good guesses, but next time you see it in the supermarket, look at the label on the back of the bottle.  It’s made by some company I can’t even remember, and that company is owned by Kingsford, the charcoal people.  That’s a pretty good link, bbq and charcoal.  But that’s where the label information stops, because they don’t want you to know that Kingsford is owned by Clorox.

Why not?  Well, let’s put it this way.  How would you react if I said, “C’mon over to my house Saturday.  We’ll barbecue ribs and serve ‘em up with Clorox barbecue sauce!”

So it’s clear that companies are sensitive to the brand image, because it has a powerful effect on purchase decisions.  Do you buy products based on the image that you associate with the brand?  Or are there other drivers that induce you to buy or not buy?

Here’s an experiment I use in workshops.  I tell the learners, “You have to buy a can of shaving cream for someone else, someone you don’t know very well.  What aspect of the product offer will be the buying trigger for you?” I note their responses and come up with some mix of:  packaging (size, colors), shelf position, price/quantity, scent, moisturizers and finally “brand name”, such as Gillette.  But the exercise is used just as a teaser to introduce another topic:  how does your company ensure that the product, people or offering relate to the advertised brand?  In other words, does the company pour millions into promoting the brand, only to have the people or the product not live up to it?

Look at the La Quinta hotel chain. It promises a consistent guest experience and low rates, but when I think La Quinta I think “Next to Denny’s,” and indeed, the chain does try to locate properties near Denny’s restaurants in high traffic locations along interstates. This is not the image of a positive guest experience for me.

On the other hand, I have a big regional bank client that ensures that their brand promise is practiced in the training room and then implemented on the job in front of the customer and with each other.

So when you design training for a new client, start by learning all you can about the brand, why it was chosen, the research that supports it and the financial investment in it.  Then make sure you train people to demonstrate it, to ensure that the customer experience is identical to the message.

Ask yourself, do all your internal training programs begin with the brand promise? Help your company or client get a better return on investment by protecting and enhancing the brand.  Often it’s just making sure that you…

Think Like Your Customer!

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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