Inbound Marketing & Middle Eastern Hospitality

Open Doors
Open Doors

Last night we went out to a very good, very casual, and very Middle Eastern (Lebanese/Palestinian) restaurant located in Skillman, NJ.

We were quite hungry, so we decided to follow our Middle Eastern “cultural instinct” and order a variety of items to the table (translation: lots of food).

Normally at this kind of situation, any waiter would have been thrilled about the possibility of a large bill, and of course a “fat” tip at the end of the dinner. But not our waiter (who was Lebanese himself), who decided to intervene with our decision and suggested an alternative that will not only save us money, but will also save us an overstuffed feeling at the end of the meal (Translation: Middle Eastern people always finish what they order, even if they are not hungry anymore). By doing so, he significantly reduced the price of our bill, “risking” his chances of getting a big tip.

We still ended up ordering lots of food, but not as much as we initially planned. This type of act by the waiter made me think about how Middle Eastern hospitality is very much like Inbound Marketing.

Inbound Marketing, among other things, is about building relationships with your customers, maintaining these relationships (also known as nurturing), and eventually trying to create a sale, or in this case a regular returning customer.

Our waiter did exactly that:

  • He offered his professional advice helping us save money, giving us some free Middle Eastern pickles to the table, and free spicy homemade sauce that he offered.  First step, building relationships with your customers, who by now became your friend!
  • By doing so, he created a trust between us and him, which allowed him to come back to our table and give us a brief background of our Palestinian chef, the background of his own family who immigrated from Lebanon, AND let us meet his family at the end of the dinner, which ended up being a good 20 minutes conversation. This is what I call a good nurturing. Of course, this type of action later led to more sales in the form of ordering Tea, desserts, and leaving a very generous tip
  • He also managed to create a returning customer, and on top of that a customer that now will freely promote his restaurant (it is a family business) to others.

I thought about all this while eating my grilled lamb and traditional Lebanese rice, which made me think of two things:

  1. I should really focus on my food when going out, and not think about Inbound Marketing all the time.
  2. Inbound Marketing is about who you are as a person. It is about your attitude in life. If your attitude is to make money fast (never happens) with the expense of losing your customer after you are done (nobody likes being pushed all the time), then you are not an Inbound Marketer. In contrast, if your attitude is to build relationships first, and then talk about business so congratulations, you are an Inbound Marketer at heart.

Have you ever had such an experience before? Share it by commenting.

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