Here at the Richards household, we’re not ashamed to say we’re fans of The Great British Bake Off. Along with millions of other fans in the UK, we like to tune in at 8pm on a Wednesday evening to enjoy the inuendo-laden commentary, Mel’s knowing side glances at the camera, seeing contestants getting more jittery by the week, Mary’s ponchant for floral blazers and Paul’s terrifying icy blue stare.
It was as we were watching a ‘slice’ of the action this week however, that it occurred to me. That, in actual fact, our beloved patriotic programme actually has many similarities to marketing.
Whhhhaaaatttttt? How so? I hear you cry.
Let me explain.
1. Avoiding a soggy bottom: In Bake Off, any bake worth its salt should have a crisp firm base. We’re all familiar with Paul’s ‘digit of doom’ doing its ‘tap test’ to assess whether one’s bake has that dreaded “soggy bottom” or not.
Likewise in marketing, having a strategy in place for your business or organisation is an absolute prerequisite for success. Without a firm base (equivalent to aforementioned soggy bottom), marketing efforts will be in vain. Time, energy and money will be wasted resulting from inconsistencies in who you’re targeting, how you’re targeting them and what you’re saying to them. With that as your baseline, how are your customers supposed to have clarity over what your business offers or stands for? And if that ain’t clear, sales will undoubtedly suffer.
2. Timing is critical. As we all know from the pangs of anxiety, the obsessive peering in the oven, and the determination to avoid experiencing Paul prodding at raw dough uttering the devastating words “it could have done with another few minutes”, we know that timing in Bake Off is everything. If done well, contestants can say goodbye to underdone pastry, overdone sponge cakes and said cutting remarks from Paul.
It is true also of marketing. In the world of marketing, fine-tuning your timing so that your message hits when the consumer is in the right frame of mind to act, drives a better ROI, and so is a key fundamental to get right.
3. Making your bake stand out: just as it’s true in the infamous tent that a bake presented well will stand a better chance of impressing the scouse-southern duo, so it is of marketing too. If your business or organisation doesn’t look good, it isn’t going to stand out (well not for the right reasons anyway) and prospects and customers aren’t going to be drawn to it.
Yes, just as our Andrew deservedly impressed with his cog-wheel creation, when developing a brand, it’s critical that a look, feel, tone, quality is created that represents what your product/service stands for. That brings me onto point 4…
4. Listening: Similar to the adorable Val’s methods of unconventionally listening to her bakes, it’s absolutely critical that businesses and organisations seek the thoughts, attitudes and behaviours of their target audience/s. Without this, you’re ploughing on blindly; without any clue about what your target audience wants, feels, likes, and ultimately will buy. So how do you expect to create a product or service that will resonate with them? Just as Val believed this to be a critical part of her baking, so too, should your businesses consider seeking feedback a critical part of your approach.
5. Fine-tuning to become serious contenders: Whether it’s Paul’s long pauses and raised eyebrow, or Mary’s more polite approach – be it blind taste test or tricky technical – Paul and Mary’s feedback is key in helping contestants to modify and adjust, to hone and polish, and to truly evolve as bakers. Rising to the challenge you might say. Monitoring where your marketing is and isn’t working is essential in enabling you to tweak and refine and improve results; to increase impact…to become serious contenders…just as we now have the creme de la creme in our three Bake Off finalists.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. I do hope though that I’ve outlined just a few of the similarities for starters and outlined why these elements contribute heavily to success. Whether you’re competing in a national baking TV programme with 11 million viewers, or ‘proving’ yourself on a much smaller scale, the same principles apply.
As you immerse yourself in the showdown final of patriotic sponge cake with Jane, Candice and Andrew next Wednesday evening, see if you can spot any more similarities. You’ll be surprised. Observations welcomed.