Blog Post

15 May 2014

How Denny’s Reinvented Itself Through Positioning (And How You Can Too!)

I’m Eric Hicks, Director of Internet Marketing with Juice Marketing and Design. I help business owners feel proud of their websites!

Today, I’m going to deviate from giving out great website and online marketing advice and tell you a story about how Denny’s (the restaurant chain) used good old marketing savvy to reinvent itself, subsequently jumping off a declining business cycle and rebooting itself into a growth phase.

So buckle up, hang on, and stay with me for the whole ride, and I promise you’ll finish with a new understanding of the power of words.

The Pygmalion Effect (what the heck is that??)

Simply put … self-fulfilling prophecy.

So I’m going to paraphrase a story for you to explain this concept. Two psychologists (Rosenthal and Jacobson) conducted a study where they gave a teacher two classes of kids. One class was the “smart” class, and the other was the … uh, “not-so-smart” class (trying not to offend, folks). So the teacher taught the two classes all year and sure enough, at the end of the year, the smart class excelled and the not-so-smart class did not. No surprise there, right?

Well, the catch to this experiment was that the kids were selected randomly. There was no measurement of their intellect or anything done prior to the experiment. The study was conducted to determine if the Pygmalion Effect would apply to situations such as classrooms, sports teams, etc.

labeling-expectationThe psychology behind this is that by LABELING, setting an EXPECTATION, and then REINFORCING that label and expectation, a self-fulfilling prophecy will occur. The kids that were labeled underachievers underachieved. The kids that were labeled exceptional performed exceptionally. It had nothing to do with their actual ability or intelligence, the results were simply shaped by labeling and treating them according to that label.

The marketing implication of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

So here’s how we apply this to marketing and business. A big step in developing a brand (and every business should develop a brand) is figuring out how to POSITION the business in the competitive landscape. A business should DIFFERENTIATE itself from its competition so that it stands out. One aspect of differentiation is POSITIONING. How does the business describe itself? How is the business perceived right now by its existing and potential customers? How does the business want to be perceived in the future by its existing and potential customers? These are just a few questions that positioning addresses.

How a business describes itself affects people’s perception. Choose words wisely.

A real-world case study:  MartinMontessori.com

So Juice Marketing and Design completed a marketing analysis and a website for local business Martin Montessori Academy. Martin Montessori is an owner-operated child care center in Clearwater, Fla. Owner Gordon Martin had a challenge in that he was not one of the large, franchise child care learning centers, but he also wasn’t a stay-at-home mom who watches two neighborhood kids out of her house either. His business was somewhere in between. He wanted to be perceived as able to give more individual attention and emotional investment to kids than the franchise centers, but have a much higher level of professionalism than a home-based child care operation.

The challenge:  How to position Martin Montessori Academy?

So after several hours of interviews and several days of brainstorming, Juice came up with the phrase “The Child Care Center … That Feels Like Home!”. We felt this description perfectly captured the essence of how Martin Montessori wanted to be perceived by its potential clients. Professional, like the franchise centers, yet personal like the home-based caregivers.

The end result of this positioning exercise:  focusing the marketing message of the center, a new website, new business cards and an overview sheet, and a lot of hard work from the owner, Martin Montessori Academy quickly filled to capacity and is now looking for new space so it can enroll more children and expand the business!

Back to Denny’s … what did they do?

So I haven’t eaten at Denny’s in probably 10 years. In my mind, Denny’s earned a reputation as a place that served cheap, lousy breakfast with poor service. The other perception was that it was the place that people went to late at night after going to a club or bar. So how does Denny’s overcome these perceptions? How does it POSITION itself so it can be more than that and create a new growth phase for the company?

I’m not sure how I ended up going to Denny’s (I think my wife had a coupon), but I recently dined there and was pleasantly surprised with my experience! Denny’s had remodeled the interior and had a new, modern look. The servers were very nice. Denny’s had a new menu and the food was pretty good! Then I saw the front of the menu and it all clicked for me.

Denny’s … Welcome to America’s Diner!

dennys_menu_cover

This is positioning at it’s finest! It goes back to the Pygmalion Effect … label, set an expectation, and reinforce that label and expectation and the desired result will likely occur.

A challenge for you.

How is your business positioned? How do you want existing and new customers to perceive your business? How can you label, set an expectation, and constantly reinforce that label and expectation to create the perception that you want?

At Juice Marketing and Design, we help business owners with positioning and creating a powerful image and presence for their business. Through branding, website design, and print marketing, Juice helps businesses craft the perceptions people have to accurately reflect the quality products or services the business delivers.

Call Juice today at 727-386-8611 to take the first step toward the amazing image you always dreamed your company would have!