DOING BUSINESS INSIDE CULTURES
January 2017

An old advertising cohort and I used to go to lunch at Steak and Shake every Friday—back in the late 1980’s (ok, so I’m old) when in my humble opinion the franchise was under-managed and the buildings were stuck in the 1950s.

I remember thinking dozens of times; this is such a great product. What a great opportunity for someone to refresh a tattered brand and update the facilities. Today, of course, all Steak and Shake restaurants have been modernized and new ones regularly pop up.

But why had they run into hard times in the first place? Well, I believe Steak and Shake fell on hard times because they didn’t keep up with the culture of an America that had changed 500 fold since the 1950’s. And frankly it astonishes me how many businesses are just like Steak and Shake. They have such a great product, but in many cases haven’t kept pace with the changing culture of America, or for that matter the rest of the world. As a result, their structures as well as their communications platforms look stuck in a time warp. No wonder “sales” are down!

Truth is that businesses that have kept pace with the times, and who periodically “refresh” their brands are reaping the dividends.

So the question to you, and to me, is, are you willing to accommodate and engage the culture to keep your retail business, luxury resort, restaurant, residential and commercial building designs, advertising agency in a leadership position? Are you willing to fully embrace the fact that the only way you can succeed long-term is to understand the culture of the audience you are courting?

As it relates to marketing, this doesn’t imply that you should “change the message” for each an every cultural (audience) need. Rather it means you should deliver the “same” message in a way a particular culture is most likely to respond – whether Asians; Millennial ; Bikers; Executives; Seniors or Young Families. Certainly “change for the sake of change” is no virtue, but neither is not changing so you can keep things “the way you’ve always done them.”

It's the start of a new year. I good time to reflect and adjust.

I welcome your thoughts.

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison

78Madison is a full service marketing communications firm (advertising agency) located in Orlando, Florida (Altamonte Springs)

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