I might need to explain this one. I’ve done a few talks for The Guardian recently on how to set up food and drinks businesses, which are super fun. Sometimes I might talk for an hour, other times I’ll host a whole day of truly outstanding talks from pizza chain owners and organic grocery shop owners. It’s a blast and you should come along some time.
Anyway, I was midway through a three-hour solo masterclass last week and I was trying to describe what a customer should be. Keynote presentations are great for preparation but sometimes out of the blue you can say something you’ll use forever. Basically, I felt stoked about coming up with it. Here goes… You must strive to make your customers become onions. Not so you can cook them up with some badass hot dogs - what you want is to get them to take on the qualities of an onion. A multi-layered, grounded, eye-watering legend, in other words.
You see, if you have a customer who buys your product once, they’ve started the first layer. It’s a good start. But how do you then get them wrapped in another layer? By engaging with them as personally as humanly possible. By this, I don’t mean hiring an agency to post rubbish on Facebook, I mean really getting under the skin of people. Talk to them as you would a pal in the pub. That could be online, face-to-face, in a three-hour Guardian masterclass, at an awesome festival, through the eyes of a brand ambassador, anything really.
The frequency of layering is up to you, but it needs to be timed well. Too little and you might lose them, too much and you’ll become a pain, but if you stick and grow with it, you’ll learn soon enough. By layering, you’ll have a customer who not only buys your product (the most important thing ever) but follows you on every social network, comments on your stuff, happily fills out surveys, rocks your merch, comes to your private parties, makes a beeline for you at an event, talks about you in truly random circumstances, and a number of other things.
Once your customer has become an onion, make them a certified brand ambassador. You’ll be amazed at what a member of the public can do for you. You don’t need what 50 Cent did for Vitaminwater because that wasn’t real. And we need to be real. Garlic? No. Onion? Yes.