I’ve known Paul Clark – the man behind Brighton’s recent burger sensation The Troll’s Pantry – from when he first started out. I think his success tells us a lot about how important it is to have a story to tell about why you do what you do, that the story needs to be told clearly, and lastly it needs to be told to the right people.
Know your audience.
I met Paul in the Spring of 2012 when he’d just bought his first van and had decided to trade outside Industrial House in deepest, darkest West Hove. Not the most hospitable of places.
His burgers were great back then too, but he was either talking to the wrong people or to the right people at the wrong time. Either way, it really was tumbleweed days and I did honestly wonder how long he would last.
Paul soon found a new patch the other side of town at the Wood Store’s front yard. And this is when things really started to happen for him.
Tell the story behind your product.
Once he’d found an audience that appreciated what he did, his customers started to learn all about where is produce came from. He forages his own herbs, buys meat from the local Garlic Wood Farm and sources his ingredients very carefully. Things he realised were important to his customers too. And they also saw the extra touches Paul was putting into all his work, the unusual sauces, the way he did his buns.
People were prepared to pay a little bit more for a product or service once they’d heard his back story and loved it.
It’s all the rage nowadays and Paul does this really well through his social media channels. He constantly asks his Twitter and Facebook followers what they like/don’t like about his burgers or service and their feedback is always acted on. He has an open, honest, almost transparent relationship with his community of followers. He lets his customers know about each new product and on the day menu changes. I think his customers do genuinely feel they are part of the ongoing narrative of his business and a central part to his story. In business speak I guess this makes them more engaged and with it, more loyal.
There are, of course, many other factors at play, such as Paul’s hard work and that he loves a product/service that could be classed as an affordable luxury in a downturn.
Here’s a great interview with him on Brighton’s Burgers blog.