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  • Writer's pictureRick Julian

Brand Positioning: Why Can't I Sell My Octopus?

If I were to offer 100 people octopus as an entree.

or an appetizer . . .

What do you think 90% would would say? "No. Thank you."

Maybe more.

I remember the first time that I ate octopus, I was at a sushi restaurant and it came out in these little chunks with tentacles on them. And I began chewing, and about 10 minutes later it seemed I was still chewing the same piece. I was like, all right. Well that's octopus. It was like the "Gummy Bear of the Sea" : it just kept on going and going and going . . . honestly, I hadn't eaten much octopus since then.

But then I went to a wonderful restaurant here in Atlanta called The Kimball House.

So I'm sitting at the bar eating by myself on this particular evening and I saw octopus on the menu. I had tried lots of the restaurant's other entrees and was very impressed with how good the food was. So I said, if anybody could make octopus good, the chef here could. So I ordered it.

It was amazing. They do a different preparation of it almost every time it's on the menu— a variation on the marinade, a variation on the sides, the sauce . . . all kinds of stuff..

It is by far my favorite dish out of the whole menu, and it's an amazing menu.

That was about two and a half years ago.

Now every time I go back to The Kimball house, guess what I order?


So I went there with a friend a few nights ago. He asked what I was getting, and i said, "The octopus—I always get the octopus."

"I hate octopus." he said "Hate it."

And I said, "Well, you really ought to try this because I used to have problems with it too. But these guys do it differently."

So I ordered it arrived and I cut off a piece for him, let him try it, and he said, "Wow. That's really good. I think I'll get that the next time"

I described their special preparation: they brine it, they marinate it in some special combination of something something, then they tenderize it, then they flavor it even more, then grill it . . . a .fairly involved process . . .

But then you have octopus that everybody wants, when they never wanted it before.

How is that about our business?

Some of you believe that you have octopus for sale.

You have a product line that looks like octopus. You're selling all these other things: it's easy to sell the steak. It's easy to sell the salmon. It's easy to sell the pasta of your product line. Whatever that product line is, whatever industry, you've got those regular categories you've been moving, but you got this octopus over here.

But you don't want to give up on it. Y You say. "I like it. I believe in it. It's a great product, but people just don't seem to get it" You're right. They don't, but it's not the product's fault. It's not the service lines' fault that people don't "get it". Guess whose responsibility is for to help people "get it", to like it, to find it appealing? Us, team.

You have been doing a certain kind of preparation of branding and marketing and storytelling on that product and it has not connected. But what if you come at it from a different angle, if you looked at it with fresh eyes, and took a different kind of approach to telling that story?

A different strategy for preparing the marketing materials and branding materials that you need in order to compellingly highlight the things people need to know, in a way that makes them want to have it, and want to try it.

So that they actually get it in their hands, and try it, then say,

"How have I not been using your product all my life? It's the best thing ever."

Do you have an octopus in your service line right now you have an octopus in your product line?

Before you just give up.

Try a different preparation.

See if that works.

Rick Julian QV

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