In a culture where fast food is on every corner, it’s hard to imagine there’s a movement around something called slow food. But, back in 1986, when McDonald’s was pushing their way into Rome, one of the locals was outraged. Carlo Petrini, an Italian journalist, was worried about the impact that cheap, fast food would have on a society so rich and abundant in local eateries and real cuisine. Before you knew it, Petrini and others rallied around and picketed, but not with traditional handmade signs. They protested with bowls of fresh penne in hand.
“We don’t want fast food… we want slow food!” they proclaimed.
Soon, a movement was born and the organizers quickly realized that in order to be sustainable and holistic in their approach, they had to look beyond the basic culture of food. It was crucial to incorporate the science as well as the production and environmental connection behind the food. All in all, it was an approach that looked at every facet, at every connection, between the plate and the planet.
So, what can the slow food movement teach us about marketing?
Many businesses, even today, market a lot like they’re fast food establishments. Pushing out deals, cluttering email accounts and mailboxes with coupons, obnoxious radio ads, loud television commercials, and billboards as if it were 2004. Push. Push. Push.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when’s the last time that you read every (or any) marketing email? When’s the last time you actually looked through your junk mail or paid attention to radio ads? I know we’re not looking at billboards with the same level of attention we did 10 years ago, especially when we’re spending so much of our time looking at our smartphones when we’re driving! (Naughty! No, seriously….keep your eyes on the road.)
We consume information differently now. It’s on our time. We listen to commercial-free radio. We watch advertisement-free programming streaming on Netflix. We send email that we don’t care about to our junk or spam folder. You see where I’m going here? We don’t want to be interrupted. We don’t want marketing messages pushed down our throats at every turn.
As with the slow food movement, the payoff comes when we get back to basics. For businesses, that means opportunities to step back and work on building relationships. Connecting with people, giving value first, and building trust. We all like to do business with folks that we like, people that we feel good about and trust.
Unsure on where to begin?
Here are three tips to get you started:
- Approach your marketing efforts from an angle of building relationships. Think small town. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Know your marketing options. Know where your customers are in relation to those options and provide engaging content in the context that best fits those particular platforms.
- Understand how your customers and prospective customers consume information. Now, more than ever, people are relying on mobile technology to connect with their social networks, information, and entertainment. Their attention and time is not only limited, but precious. How will you stand out?
The result of this kind of slow marketing is stronger relationships. It’s like a meal over pasta instead of a Big Mac. So, let’s go grab a bowl of that fresh, homemade penne from that chef in town. Let’s bring her a basket of freshly harvested herbs, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and plump ripe eggplant straight from our garden. Let’s get to know her and her staff. Learn about her passion for cooking and her love for local ingredients. Who knows, maybe we’re just the farmer she’s looking for …