Have you ever been to a Ribfest ? These traveling barbecue shows have their origins in the American south, but you can find them all over Ontario during the summer weekends. Barbecue teams set up huge rigs equipped with giant smokers that can cook 200 racks of ribs at a time. Once the ribs are finished smoking, they are ready to eat, but before they reach the customer they hit the grill to have the succulent sauce, sweet and tangy or hot and spicy, cooked into them.
Now, before you get too hungry and break for lunch, I do have a point! A friend of mine worked for a rib crew a few summers ago. While the different rib teams travel together and have a friendly camaraderie, at the end of the day they are competing against each other. If customers come to the park and see 10 different rigs lined up, all with colorful banners and trophies on display, how do they choose which ribs to try?
My friend found the makeshift marketing techniques they used intriguing. Some would send people out into the crowd with free samples of pulled pork and sauce. Most would hire pretty girls to run the cash counter or the grill (it sounds sexist, but it worked). The most fascinating technique? They would control the line-ups.
If the line started to thin out, griller’s and servers would actually slow down to make sure they didn’t lose it. “Losing the line” was one of the worst things that could happen. It may sound counter-intuitive, but having a long line-up would actually contribute positively to a customer’s purchasing decision. Along with word of mouth from other attendees and positive experiences at previous years’ ribfests, line-ups were a major way customers assessed the quality of the product. There must be something wrong with a team that has no customers waiting, right?
Never forget that you can market yourself by controlling the supply of your product to stimulate demand. You just have to do it properly. The rib crews would never let the line-ups get too out of hand; they would speed up as much as necessary to keep the line moving. You never want to alienate or irritate your customers!
How can you apply the line-up effect in your business? Let us know below in the comments have you ever applied this strategy before…? Did it work? What were your results? Did people just want your products and services even more…?