Competition and Marketing

Turtle hatchlings’ fight for their life starts right after they are born, when they try to reach the ocean before any predators can catch them. Their inner, natural, drive guides their way forward throughout their whole life. They can travel 10 000 miles and still know their way back home. As “The Tortoise and the Hare” story has taught us, consistent and steady character leads to victory. No gimmicks, no arrogance.

Teal organizations don’t really have competition in the traditional sense, since the aim is simply to fulfill their purpose. Anyone who can help accomplishing it is a friend, an ally, not a competitor. Growth and profits are in a way seen as by-products not as the main goals. They are merely indicators of the success of your collective effort toward the purpose. Before anyone shits their pants, I’ll say it out loud – of course the restaurant has to be profitable to operate and stay in business. But taking obscene shortcuts at the expense of say, the staff or the environment, to make more dollars, is not cool anymore. What’s cool nowadays is honesty and sincerity. And even if you decide not to be transparent, the skeletons will fall out the closet one day and it’s not gonna be pretty.

For example, Buurtzorgs (Dutch healthcare organisation) purpose is to help sick and elderly patients live a more autonomous and meaningful life. This means trying to create an as improved environment as possible for their patients to the extent that their patients wouldn’t even need their services anymore. For instance, they might incorporate neighbours or family members to the process or modify the patients home to be safer, or provide equipment to enable better rehabilitation opportunities. It’s not only important to fix someones broken leg, but to prevent that from happening again.

Instead of protecting their groundbreaking Teal practices like they are nuclear codes, Jos de Blok, owner of the Buurtzorg, wrote a detailed book explaining their methods and sent a copy of it to their competitors. As de Blok told Laloux (Reinventing Organizations):

“In my perspective, the whole notion of competition is idiotic. It really makes no sense. You try to figure out how you can best organize things to provide the best care. If you then share the knowledge and the information, things will change more quickly”

That’s also why I want to share my findings and write about Teal practices for other restaurant workers. In order to profoundly create a better working environment for the restaurant workers as a whole, and to improve the business models, it wouldn’t be beneficial at all for me to sit on these teachings and frameworks. I’m not preaching you to do exactly as I write here, but I’m hoping to inspire you to consider the chance to run bars even better than now.

Patagonia’s Black Friday advertisement, The New York Times, 2011. Photo by Patagonia.

Teal approach to marketing is relatively simplistic and goes pretty much hand in hand with the above mentioned competition aspect. Marketing is about doing what feels right and it should be inline with the overall purpose. The rest will follow. When creating and defining a new product, the process is guided by beauty and intuition over analytics.

Marketing is about filling the need in the world and being true to yourself and your brand. Sure, one could make more money by selling their soul or cheating on their standards, but is that really the type of product or service you want to give out to people and to this world? The clickbait headlines for “Five-Step Guide to Get Rich” sure brings volume to your site, but is that really the type of content you want to put out there? Many times these types of articles create more confusion or misery to people’s lives than enrichment and clarity. Similarly, some venues post purposefully mistaken or complicated advertisements that aim to distract their very own customers with the intention to make a profit of their confusion. Hidden surcharges? Combo deals that are actually costing more for the guest? No thank you.

Being transparent about where your ingredients come from and who produces them demonstrates the ethical side of your business. Communicating these can build ground for a trustworthy and honest relationship with your guests. Many times it signifies the quality of your products as well.

Think about outside your venue, what do you really want to sell without selling yourself? The theory of “dual entitlement” basically says, that consumers evaluate a price with the belief that they are entitled to a fair price while also realizing that the company is entitled to make a reasonable profit as well. Communicating your offerings properly and having honest package deals and reasonable prices will benefit your business in the long run.

“This is our offer. At this moment, we feel this is the best we can possibly do. We hope you will like it.”

“What product would fill a genuine need in the world?”

“What product would we be really proud of?”

Frederic Laloux on Teal organizations’ approach to marketing (Reinventing Organizations)

I’m grateful if Mate Hospitality can help others improve the work conditions in the restaurant field and enable a healthier, more mindful way of running a venue. But I’m not assuming to make this change by myself. Seeing others finding their own interpretations and finding the Teal practices that most resonates with them is part of the reason I’m excited about this. Together we can make a change and make the old ways of operating look out-dated. Our collective intelligence and efforts are not limited to the four walls of each venue.

I understand that the financial competition, to be a more profitable business than others, is legitimate, but I like to look at it with a wider lens. I’m writing about these things for my “competitors” to give a chance for genuine change to happen in the restaurant industry as a whole. I want all bartenders to have a better work environment in the future. So when they eventually grow and create better bars, the scene overall improves and we can have a stronger community all together.

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Mika Ammunét Written by:

Bar Manager, Future Bar Owner

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