Thursday, March 10, 2011

Twitter, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and the Irresistible Heroes of the School Cafeteria

The following is one in a series of guest posts on the Citizen Marketer 2.1 blog. In addition to being a good friend, Liz Strauss is CEO of SOBCon, a business strategies event, and founder at Inside-Out Thinking, a leadership, loyalty, and customer care training business. She is the author of You'll find her on Twitter as @lizstrauss.

I admit it I was a school geek. Everything about the school experience made me more curious. The good teachers took advantage of that. The not so good ones did their best to ignore it. I was curious about how everyone did things, who they were, why they cared about what they cared about, and the most interesting place of the whole school to me was the school cafeteria.

Back in the olden days, I was short and school books were light because the world had less information. School cafeterias still had cooks and ovens in which they cooked homemade food. Of course, being part of a school, laws and rules set the diet about what they could offer their patrons. For example, every day had to include one serving of bread with the meal. Each month the recommended diet included a huge portion of natural honey as an ingredient.

The brilliant nutritionist, Helen, that ran the school cafeteria knew her customers -- us kids well. So rather than using that honey in bits along the way she used it once a month to deliver a powerful WOW! She mixed the honey into a huge vat of peanut butter to make the most delicious spread.It was secret mixture I've never been fully able to replicate.

That day every month every kid -- even the ones who didn't like peanut butter -- asked for two helpings of bread. Those peanut butter side sandwiches became the currency of the lunch table. Kids traded for favors, to mend friendships, score homework help, and to meet new kids in other classes.

Peanut butter sandwiches were social media at its best.

Helen understood that when you give your customers something spectacular that only you can give, the result is something that your customers can't help but share and talk about. Helen had turned a sandwich into an event. The whole school was connected in a quest to enjoy the best peanut butter sandwiches in the land.

Kids I went to school with still talk about Peanut Butter Day. Helen had a whole school of fiercely loyal fans.

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