Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Devil, Details and Your Thanksgiving Bird

We've all heard the expression "The Devil is in the details!" when it comes to planning and whatnot.  There are so many important elements that go into a project, a product, a service, an event, etc., but some of them are infinitesimal to the eyes.  But that doesn't mean they are not felt or appreciated.

I came upon this lovely gem from Mitch Joel about the little big things.  Essentially, it is true that the whole is more than the sum of its parts but the net effect of how the whole "feels" because of the little parts makes paying attention to the little parts all that more important. Here's a quote by Marco Arment from within the post:

"...I learned the value of giving people little delights... Those small details and experiences are the reason why people like luxury cars. They are full of those little delights. You can do the same thing with any business. With a Web and iPhone app, I try to find new and tiny ways to delight my customers. They may not notice, but it helps drive goodwill and makes your product remarkable."

Which brings me to the subject of turkeys.  Not turkeys as in bad ideas or bad execution of ideas.  I mean the prosaic Thanksgiving bird.  More specifically, I'd like to talk about Butterball and its Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.  I'd always planned to talk about Butterball (thanks to this article) and had I not had my O'Hare adventure, I would have written this earlier.  

Every year, the Turkey Talk-Line handles about 100K calls about the bird itself, great side dishes and anything even barely tangentially related to the holiday meal.  Butterball has turkey experts that have been working the lines for years...  So many that they earn wishbone fashioned jewelry to mark milestones.  They also answer about 5K emails and there are about 1MM visitors to their site each year.

Those are small potatoes (ha ha) compared to Epicurious or Food Network sites but there's something charming and homespun about the Butterball Talk-Line beyond the fact that you can call them regardless of the brand of turkey you've purchased.  Actually, Butterball celebrates smallness and personal approach and thinks it speaks well for the brand.  Here's are some nice excerpts from the article:

"Butterball Turkey executives believe the company has a strong niche and claim they are undaunted by the competition. In addition to selling turkey, they say, Butterball's core strength is providing live advice from calm experts about cooking, thawing or what side dishes to make."

"The fact that you can call a hot line and talk to an expert who knows how to make the perfect bird is so valuable to the consumer who's feeling so stressed,'' said Marie Chen, a senior consultant at EffectiveBrands, a global branding company. "People really feel like they have a lot riding on this meal," said Chen. "They're preparing it for their families, their in-laws, the people who matter the most. And they want it to be perfect."

So what does your Thanksgiving bird and a cooking hotline have to do with Mitch Joel and little big things?  Little big things are really what make up a brand's halo effect.  As I mentioned in my last post, we don't only buy a product or service but we also buy confidence and whatever other emotion we experience because the product or service alleviates a (hunger) pain or solves a problem.

Many of us may never call the Talk-Line but just having the knowledge that it's there "just in case" as you're preparing a big meal for the first or fifth time is comforting...  and something difficult to assign a price.  Consequently, the halo effect is the representation of the value of comfort, confidence, security and relief.

Very often, we're made to feel like we have to go completely over the top to win the hearts and minds of customers.  But, like that quote from Mitch Joel's post, the little delights are what drive goodwill and distinguishes one company from another.  If anyone were to receive help from the Butterball Talk-Line, that is one replayed memory with every visit to the poultry section at the local market with likely influence on the brand purchased.

Not bad for a little big thing, right?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Parissa. The other precious nugget is at the end of the Trib article - inclusion into a special 'employee club' via a simple sterling silver wishbone. Thanks!