Mainly this was when I was going to college.
Also, quite a bit when I was kicking around between college and deadbeat-dom.
Yeah, restaurants suck and they lead you nowhere…unless you’re lucky and wake up and head back to school.
That’s what I did and now here I am, enlightening you each and every day.
Don’t think I didn’t learn some lessons while working in those restaurants, however.
Yeah, I can cook a bit and I’m a damn fine dishwasher, but there are other lessons as well. These pertain to life and money, success and achievement.
They also pertain to content, like the kind you throw up on your site each day.
Let’s take a look at some content marketing lessons that come from my restaurant experience. I call them the 3 "cons", and I think you’re already acquainted with ‘em.
One Sunday afternoon we had a staff meeting. The manager, a guy named Mike that’d managed some fancy places in Chicago, really laid into the cooks.
“Last week I saw an old friend of mine come in,” Mike said, “he ordered a steak and I asked him how it was.”
“The best steak I’ve ever had,” the man replied.
“Well, Mike said, continuing the story, “that same old friend came in this week and I asked him how his steak was.”
“Probably the worst I’ve ever had,” the man said.
Mike let that hang out there for a moment, let the air fill with it.
What the hell? The cooks must have thought, for surely they couldn’t understand why this guy would like the steak one week and not the next.
“We have a problem with consistency,” Mike said, looking at the lead cooks. “Some nights we cook this way, some nights we cook that way.” He frowned, crossed his arms. “Why the hell are we not doing it the same way all the time?”
No one had an answer to that, but I don’t think we had anymore problems with old friends complaining about steaks.
The lesson here is that you need to be consistent with your content, whether it’s delivered steaming hot on a plate or fresh on the blog roll that morning.
People come to you for a reason – they know what to expect. There’s habit there, comfort, and trust.
Don’t fuck that up by getting all saucy, changing things up, or altering your routine.
And for God’s sake – if you’ve got more than one guy on the content line, make sure they know the policies and procedures so that everything coming off that line is the same.
Consistency: people expect it.
It’s one of those Asian grills where they cook the food right out in front of you. Pretty good, pretty healthy, and very popular.
One day I was working in the back, doing the prep work. One task was to cook rice and we always had three large pans of rice going at anytime.
Well, that day I forgot to do them for some reason. Around 11 AM one of the servers walks back into the kitchen.
“Greg, where’s the rice?”
I gave her a strange look, said nothing, and walked over to the rice cooker. I popped the lid, expecting to feel the assault of steam that happened whenever it was opened.
There was nothing, just a stainless steel machine’s empty innards staring back at me.
“Uh…” I likely said, though I can’t remember – I’m sure I’ve blocked most of this painful memory away.
“Oh God, don’t tell me you didn’t cook any!” the server said.
“I’ll have it done in 20 minutes!” I shouted as she stormed back to the main area of the restaurant.
Another server came back a short time later and put it well.
“HuHot running out of rice is like McDonald’s running out of fries.”
Don’t let your website run out of fries or rice, like I did that day. I got the stuff done and most of the day went fine. But how do you think those first 20 to 30 people felt, the ones that didn’t get any rice?
They’d wanted rice, they’d been expecting it. After all, it’s an Asian restaurant!
Well, that day there was no rice. Their sense of wellbeing was surely shaken, their faith in the restaurants ability to get the job done.
Continuity is vitally important for your site. One definition of it is “the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.”
What would happen if you came to this site on a Wednesday and there was no Midweek Content Marketing post up?
I’m sure you have, maybe before 9…sometimes 10 if I’m running real slow.
But what if it was 6 PM or approaching midnight, no post – then what?
You’d feel robbed, wouldn’t you? And then to have no explanation? That server that day could tell those customers what I’d done wrong, and she could even blame me.
What will your users do when they come to your site and things are not as they should be? Who do you think they’ll blame? How long before they’ll come back?
When you lose continuity you lose trust. Don’t let that happen.
It’s a popular place, one run by some native Mexicans. I knew someone that worked there and got a job.
I quickly wished I hadn’t, and I wasn’t the only one.
Right away when I got in there I was shocked by how small the kitchen area was. I was also shocked by how little information the people working there gave me on what to do.
They kind of expected that I’d know my way around a restaurant kitchen, but the thing is, I had no ideas about a Mexican restaurant kitchen.
I lost confidence in my own abilities and getting heckled by the owner on my ability to cut an onion didn’t help any.
That first Friday on the line I couldn’t seem to do anything right. At one point the more experienced cook had to jump in and take over, and I was just doing the small stuff.
After that it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make it. A few days later I wasn’t even on the schedule.
There was no firing, I just wasn’t assigned to work. A week later I came back in and got my paycheck and that was that.
If you’re not confident then others can see it, feel it, and maybe even taste it. It rubs off on everything you do.
Maybe it’s that you’re confident but no one else is confident in your abilities,or at least your abilities at the moment.
Two routes there: get better or quit.
Maybe you won’t have the option to get better, like I didn’t have one at the Mexican restaurant. That’s not true though – I could have spoken up and said, “damn it, I can do this so let’s stop fucking around and get this job done!”
But I didn’t. Instead I hung my head low and walked out.
It was an option I had and I took it. Is it one you have, and do you want to do the same? Should you do the same?
I don’t know, but if you’re asking that question you’re normal. Not giving into it means you’re not normal. It means you’re strong.
I’m sure you’ve taken some knocks as well, whether in content marketing, some dead-end job years ago, or maybe even in your personal life.
Figure out what you learned from those experiences and how those lessons can help you with internet marketing, SEO, social media sharing, or anything else that you’re doing on a daily basis.
Consistency, continuity and confidence – master them.