John Moore from Brand Autopsy has a great story on a BBQ joint in Texas, Snow’s, that was named Best in the State by Texas Monthly. As a result, they’re dealing with sudden and overwhelming success. Some of Moore’s commenters suggested buying more meat and teaching more employees how to make the BBQ. I disagree and think Seth Godin would agree with me. Seth recently posted on the issue of scarcity and often writes about the power of telling a story and consumers’ desire to tell one to themselves, the premise of his book, All Marketers Are Liars.
Snow’s can create a remarkable story for themselves, and their customers, by preserving their scarcity. The Pit Master, Tootsie Tomanetz, can’t – or at least shouldn’t – be duplicated. She’s an integral part fo the Snow’s BBQ experience. Could they teach somebody else to do her job just as well? Yeah, they probably could, but that’s not the point. Tootsie is the person you tell your cousins and friends about. Could Snow’s order more meat so that they don’t run out at 9:45am? Sure, but that’s part of the story. Want to be guaranteed you’ll get your meat? Go to Costco.
Snow’s has a unique story and unique business model. They may be the best BBQ in Texas today, but they have a chance to become the Best BBQ in the U.S. Yes, the product has to stand up, but it’s the story that will take them to the next level. But what about the business you ask? I wager they could increase their profits by a factor of five without adding one more Pit Master or selling one more brisket. When you create scarcity that generates the type of demand that has people driving hundreds of miles and staying overnight so they can be first in line, you can start selling all sorts of ancillary products. Snow’s BBQ T-shirts? Could sell those from Coast to Coast. BBQ Sauce, cook books… all without compromising the quality of the product, or the quality of the story.