Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Your wine list is too long

One of the fundamental marketing principles I abide by is: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

While that fourth word is often incorporated only to make it into a highly memorable acronym (KISS), it is not far from the truth.

Perhaps the more apt word is ‘busy’ in that we are all too rushed and distracted to notice everything that’s happening around us. For example, you stand at a busy urban intersection. Have you noted what the make and model of every car that passes by? Have you read every billboard? Do you notice the attention to detail that goes into each person’s fashion sense?

We have so much on our minds that concentrating on any one particular thing for an extended period of time or even giving something the attention it deserves is impossible. In this sense, we are all indeed stupid because there are so many worldly fascinations and so much beauty all around us that we fail to notice each and every day.

So you’re an idiot, and I’m an even bigger one. Big whoop. To this day it amazes me that we’re all still able to keep society functioning, let alone create marvels like cellphones and rocket ships. Thus, keeping your marketing message simple is of the utmost importance because if a customer has to think about your offer – even for a moment – you’ve lost them; they have better things to do.

Keeping your wine list as succinct as possible gets to the heart of this marketing tenet because if you give your guests too many options, it can have dire consequences on the overall dining experience.

For starters, a longer wine list means more time spent deciding what glass or bottle to order. Even if this boils down to a matter of seconds, those seconds will amount to – especially if your restaurant is busy –fewer table turns per day and less alcohol ordered. Next, and related to this, placing the order will consume more of your servers’ time. While this may be preferred in some instances in order to deepen the rapport with patrons, oftentimes it can delay the waiters from helping another table. Again, the seconds add up; an extra minute of wine list indecisiveness at 6pm could mean a 20-minute backlog by 7:30 – that is, if you are running a happening spot.

Part of the reason why the contemporary wine list – and the entire drink menu for that matter – often becomes too long is that it tries to be everything for everyone. Another marketing mantra to deploy here is, “If you are good at everything, then you are great at nothing.” Or, to react it back to the axiom in the opening sentence: Keep It Specific Stupid.

Often these extensive wine lists with generic offerings from around the world are the result of a wine merchant acting on behalf of those wineries or vendors who are willing to give them a few perks on the side for pushing certain brands. A common result here is an focused mess of a wine list with no overall unity to make it at all memorable to the guest.

Simplicity in the wine list can help you to ‘nudge’ customers into buying the more expensive offerings. You decide, but if you have to take away one lesson from all this, it’s that there’s a reason why the KISS principle has stood the test of time and it isn’t just that it’s a catchy acronym.

About Larry Mogelonsky

Larry Mogelonsky
Larry Mogelonsky is the founder of Toronto-based hospitality consulting agency LMA Communications Inc.

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