It was rivalry week in college football. That meant chicken wings. And chicken wings mean hot sauce. And for new England, there is a singular source for hot sauce - Rock Lobster, in Portland and Ogunquit, Maine.
Rock Lobster sells a variety of tourist staples, including T-Shirts and other Maine and New England novelties, but it’s their trove of hot sauces that makes them who they are.
Enter the store, and the one thing that stands out is the wall that’s covered with shelves containing bottles of neatly organized hot sauces. Each sauce is classified on a scale of 1 to 10, for its intensity. The “wall” starts with the 1’s, and as you walk your way to the right end of the store, you gradually approach the 10’s. If you’ve sampled some of the sauces on the way, it’s possible that you may never make it to the 10’s.
Rock Lobster is THE definitive source for hot sauce. According to the store’s owner, there are a lot of long-time customers that will plan vacations and other trips to include time to visit the “Wall of Heat.”
It’s that unique. It’s that focused. People know what the Rock Lobster stands for, and they’ve established quite a following that drives direct business, and word of (scalded) mouth business.
What are three things that you can do, to improve your reputation as “The Definitive Source” in your industry?
1. Establish your own “Wall of Heat.”
Rock Lobster provides a visual sign of their expertise – the wall. Customers and prospects see it, and the “wow” factor of the wall immediately triggers emotions that say, “These guys know hot sauce.” Your business may not sell a tangible product that lends itself to physical “wow” displays, so think about other ways to create an emotionally evocative reaction – perhaps a list on the home page of your website of the dollars you’ve saved, or profits you’ve earned for your clients. Present the information in a way that is visually-engaging, yet also says “these guys are experts!”
2. Help your clients track their progress.
Rock Lobster rates its sauces on a scale of one to ten, based on the heat factor of the sauce, and the bottles are displayed based on their rating. There’s no doubt that customers will commit themselves to working their way up the scale over time. We all like to challenge ourselves, and progress toward a goal. Rock Lobster feeds this desire, by providing a “Progress Scale,” and making it easy for their customers to follow. How can you establish a “Progress Scale” for your clients?
3. Extend the engagement beyond the transaction.
Rock Lobster extends the customer experience, beyond the store. The same 1 to 10 Progress Scale stands out on their website, so that customers can continue to engage, browse and buy, according to the same Progress Scale that caught their attention in the store. This causes customers to stay loyal, and deepen their relationship with Rock Lobster. How can you extend your engagements with your clients, to increase loyalty?
Creating a visible sign of your expertise, that triggers an emotional response. Establish an objective “Progress Scale” that your clients will want to follow, in managing their progress, while deepening your relationship. And create ways to extend the relationships on the same paths where your clients perceived value.