Are you stressed out how you’re going to add an effective digital strategy to your marketing mix? Are you wondering how valuable Facebook “likes” and tweets on Twitter are to your business? Is the alphabet soup of online acronyms — SEO, SEM, HTML, ROI — driving you mad?
Maybe you need to take a lesson from the Swan Oyster Depot.
For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to pull up a stool at the Swan and slurp down some briny fresh oysters, here’s what Condé Nast Traveler says:
“Opened in 1912, Swan Oyster Depot isn’t a restaurant, it’s a landmark. Today, the fifth generation is behind the original marble counter, and the ground rules remain unchanged. Except for the rich, creamy clam chowder, everything here is served cold. Cooking means tossing shrimp salad with Louie dressing, shucking oysters, or cracking crab. The stools at the long, narrow counter fill up during the lunch hour, so try to get there before or after noon. But be warned, the owners close when they sell out of the day’s inventory.”
What Condé Nast doesn’t say is that besides the freshest oysters, crab, shrimp, and sea urchin, the Swan also serves frosty Anchor Steam on draft and some of the best sourdough bread I’ve ever eaten. And they only take cash.
I’m one of those impatient people who hates to wait in line. Yet I happily stand out on Polk Street in the perpetual queue waiting for one of the few barstools to open up. I’ve never been there exactly at opening time, but I bet there’s a line then too. I’ve never seen the Swan Oyster Depot without a line out front.
As far as I’m concerned, the Swan Oyster Depot has it all – great food, great service, a great location, and a great story. But one thing they don’t have is a digital strategy. How do I know this? There’s a hand-written sign on the wall that told me so.
Swan Oyster Depot!! Does Not
Have A WEBSiTE!! Anything
you see ONLine is UNauthorized!!
We Only deal person to person!!! NO WEBSiTE!!
Funny thing is that besides telling customers that the Swan Oyster Depot doesn’t have a website, the sign does tell you the other things that make the lunch counter special. The handwritten quality of the sign is indicative of their hands-on approach to their food, their décor, and their service. And the idea that they “only deal person to person” is a clear confirmation of the Swan’s friendly, personal, service.
Because regardless of how many people are waiting outside coveting your stool, the guys behind the counter will tell you to take your time, relax, and enjoy. And they’ll happily discuss the origin of the oysters, carefully slice your smoked salmon or tell you the story about when their grandfather bought the restaurant.
The Swan does all this because after 115 years in business they know who they are and why their customers keep coming back. Whether they know it or not, the guys behind the counter have carefully aligned their products and services and their authentic truth, with their customers’ aspirational desires. They clearly and consistently talk their talk and walk their walk and reinforce their brand value.
There’s a great lesson inside the Swan Oyster Depot for all of us. Not to mention a dozen Kumamotos and a pint of Anchor Steam.