Arment Dietrich

The Bartender Economy

By: Arment Dietrich | June 15, 2011 | 

Today I (Lisa Gerber) ramble from influence to bartending to staying out of trouble.

Last Friday. 5:45 am. I just read and commented on Danny Brown’s post about Marketing and the Emotional Connection. The airplane doors closed. I am on my way home to Idaho for the week.

I dutifully shut down my phone and opened my book. See? There is always something to keep my attention.

The flight attendants launched into their safety presentation as I continued to read. Except this time they won the competition for my attention. I watched. Not because of that Seinfeld episode. (You know, the one where Jerry thought they were going to crash and frantically asked for a refresher course?) No, I closed my book and looked up over the seat in front of me and watched this guy re-enact escaping the plane and running, banging his feet heavily and noisily on the floor, down the lighted aisle. Don’t ask me why, I thought it was hilarious. I watched him snap himself with the rubber band of the facemask and I laughed out loud.

It’s not an easy thing to do, to capture my attention. You have a lot of competition. In fact, I’m trying to keep your attention right now, reading this blog. I hope to capture your attention every day as chief content officer.

On Danny’s blog, my comment agreed about the emotional connection in marketing.

I don’t know if it was being on a Scotsman’s blog, but he made me think of the local bartender. The bartender we go to see because he knows our name, he sincerely seems to care about us, he listens to our stories. He knows all about the neighborhood and can inform us on all sorts of matters. He knows what we drink. He gives us a free one every now and then. He makes us feel welcome.

Every brand needs a bartender.

Everyone is doing the same old thing. In fact, as I write this blog post, I’m thinking about how bored I am; Bored of writing about social media, tired of reading about it.

The mystery isn’t figuring out how to use it. The mystery is the same question it always has been; How can we influence people to buy our product or service? How can we capture your attention by being really different? We are in the age of the soft sell. Some call it the Thank You Economy, The Experience Economy. Whatever it is, I think I’ll start calling it the Bartender Economy.

The bartender is the gateway to my cocktail so he/she has my attention. But I can get the same drink in a MULTITUDE of places. How can they earn and keep my attention?

That’s mostly a rhetorical question. But have you noticed how easy it is to screw it up?

I like my bartenders with some smarts about them. They think before they speak and they don’t act like idiots.

Three Tips for Keeping Your Butt Out of Social Media Hot Water

  1. Act like an adult or shut up. What I’m trying to understand is, for every person that gets caught being an idiot online, are there more out there that aren’t being caught? I mean, do you think you’re not going to get caught? Or is it just stupidity?
  2. Put a filter on the pre-publish moments. Don’t know what I mean? Choose one:
    • Is it ok if this runs on national news tonight?
    • Would my mom be proud?
  3. Would you just double check the damn Twitter account and make sure it’s not your clients’?

Thanks, one more drink, please and I’ll move on.

Thanks to My Domestic Discipline for the image.

  • patrickreyes

    So simple but yet so common a mistake. Great post lisagerber

  • @patrickreyes I agree with you! Funny thing is I could hear lisagerber laughing in my head as I read it! Way to go Lisa!

  • KenMueller

    Pretty amazing how there seems to be a lack of common sense in the world. I think part of it (and I know I’m guilty of this) is that we get so comfortable with things like Twitter, that we don’t think. Just a few days ago my 21 year old daughter got on Twitter. She’s nosy. And I’m learning that she sees everything I write. And she’ll ask me “why did you say that?” or “what does THAT mean?”. So now before I tweet I have my “Elizabeth filter” that I run things through.

    Hmmm. certainly is ruining my online social life!

  • @KenMueller a Daughter Filter! Even better!!!
    Interesting that she is on twitter now. Are a lot of her friends on?

  • @justinthesouth @patrickreyes it is really simple. I don’t understand why people risk amazing careers and spouses for such stupidity. And I love that you can hear my laughter, Justin. Love it. 🙂

  • KenMueller

    @Lisa Gerber She got on this weekend mainly because of the Tony Awards. We have a strong local Twitter community, so she follows some of them, and has maybe a handful of friends from college who are on.

  • One word – Weiner. Need I really say more about stupid people using Twitter? I mean, maybe some people are not smart, but if you can’t use basic common sense, you should not be allowed to play in the social media sandbox!

  • ginidietrich

    I loved this!! Not because of the things we should all avoid, but because of the new term you coined: The Bartender Economy. Love, love, love! Why do we go to Naha all the time. Um, great service and the occasional free glass of wine. Businesses should run that way, too. We certainly will!

  • Lisa, awesome.

    Not really sure about the mom thing because they always love us whatever we do right? Is our audience like our mom…

    All for free glasses of wine and mom being proud. I do like @KenMueller idea of a daughter filter.

  • ginidietrich

    @RavenCourts I loved it too!

  • Somehow now I have Happy Hour on my mind…

    But in all seriousness, i agree with you. People need to practice better filters, and think before they publish. Too often I see Real Estate Agents vent on their Facebook profiles. That’s not transparency. That’s venting and in many cases stupidity. It invokes poor emotions (in my opinion anyway).

  • CandiceStone

    This is a really great post! Love the analogy and it is definitely spot on.

  • @NancyD68 Shut up if you can’t be an adult. exactly it. I mean seriously? how can people get to where they are and then be so stupid? sigh.

  • @ginidietrich was totally thinking of our BFF at Naha. 🙂 exactly. and look at all the choices we have! but we go to Naha.

  • @johnfalchetto @KenMueller You’re right, John. They do love us no matter what, but they can still be disappointed by our actions. Doesn’t matter if they understand us or not (because true, they aren’t our audience) but as danieleagee just said, if you’re sending your “sexbits off the the interwebz”, your mom is going to be, well, not so proud.

  • @RicardoBueno haha, I cannot BELIEVE no one has given me a hard time about all this drink talk. phew. 🙂 I better go for my run, so I can go drink.

  • @CandiceStone Thank you, Candice!!!

  • KenMueller

    @Lisa Gerber @johnfalchetto danieleagee I agree, Lisa. My mom reads my blog every day, even though she understands only about 5% of it. But knowing she reads it (and corrects my typos, etc), it acts as a filter for me. She’s 77 years old. Even using the word “fart” (which is the f-word to her!) is off limits. So it actually challenges me and makes me think. It’s kinda like how a lot of comedians who are really foul. I think it’s a lot harder to be funny when you CAN’T rely on 4 letter words. Too many comedians cuss just because it’s easy and expected of them.

  • HerzogIND

    @ginidietrich How’s GD?

  • Bartender Economy. Nice analogy! So that makes the comment section sort of like Cheers?

  • I absolutely love this post, and I guess as an occasional slinger of cocktails, I have an appreciation for the analogy. I’ve been circling an idea recently, and I think this post really has clarified it for me. Ours is a value add, premium product based business. But in a downward economy, who’s buying premium? The buyers exist but they’re often difficult to find. So premium doesn’t sell itself. So I ask myself, what if we were a commodity based business?

    What would differentiate us from all the rest? Would it be service? Maybe. I have hand delivered product when weather conditions prevented shipments from being sent on time. Is it availability? Perhaps. It’s nearing 10pm and if a customer calls, well, my phone will ring, and I will answer. I guess its a multitude of things, but thinking it over helps me realize that for too long we depended upon our “product offering” as our biggest selling point. But products will never, themselves, sell. First we sell ourselves, then we sell our products. It’s amazing how a PBR will taste 10x better at a local bar than an $8 Rogue Brewery Draft at a snoody establishment.

  • ginidietrich

    @HerzogIND How’s RH?

  • HerzogIND

    @ginidietrich I asked first.

  • ginidietrich

    @HerzogIND Ha! I’m great! Past my bedtime. George and I love to tweet from bed.

  • HerzogIND

    @ginidietrich Oh boy.

  • UnlockTheDoor

    That’s great to hear about the bartender Lisa, I believe there’s a common perception that all bartenders listen to your problems and ‘be there’ for you, but few of them actually do this in practice. Your bartender is one of the few.

    The thing about acting like an idiot, I don’t set out to be an idiot, but if I say something and people think I’m being an idiot, fair enough. It doesn’t bother me. I say what I can from the heart, and if people don’t like it or agree with it, that’s their decision.

    Because I’ve experienced a lot of personal development and self-bettering over the past 3 years, I can no longer communicate with people without trying to uplift them. It’s part of who I am. But some people who prefer to wallow in doom and gloom think I’m foolish/gullible/naive to suggest that things aren’t as bad as they seem. They think I’m an idiot, but that’s their choice.

    I’m not going to change what I say because of their opinion 😉

  • Paul_Wolfe

    Hey Lisa

    You should write a book with that title: The Bartender Economy. Sounds very cool….though for a moment when you described your local bartender like this:

    “The bartender we go to see because he knows our name, he sincerely seems to care about us, he listens to our stories. He knows all about the neighborhood and can inform us on all sorts of matters. He knows what we drink. He gives us a free one every now and then. He makes us feel welcome.”

    I thought you were going to go off on a ‘Cheer’s analogy. Glad you didn’t, always loathed that show.

    Mine’s a Guinness btw!


  • Paul_Wolfe

    and of course, I meant to type: Paul

  • BojanDjordjevic

    Making my mom proud and getting on the news? Gimme a break. I like my authenticity and same goes for brands. Just do it 😉

  • Great post Lisa!

    My former VP encouraged us to apple point #2 to every business decision we made, not just to social media or marketing. How would I feel if this decision was broadcast on tonight’s news?

    Question for you – Why did you choose this bar in IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    The bartender service and attention is what keeps you coming back, but what dragged you there in the first instance. Seems to me that’s the difference between marketing and customer service, no?

  • allieybc

    @nittyGriddyBlog THanks for posting!! This is fantastic!!

  • Lisa, you are too much. I love this post and your comparison to the bartender. It really is so true. Thanks for an entertaining read!

  • lisagerber

    @nittyGriddyBlog LOL, I’ll drink to that. 🙂 thanks.

  • girlygrizzly

    @Sean McGinnis mmm, that’s MY question! LOLOL!!

  • girlygrizzly

    @JamesDBurrell2 Wow. Absolutely. This is exactly(!) what I set out to do on my journey, as I call it. To allow, to give people a WAY to get to know us. We also are a premium based business. It is also our life. So when someone doesn’t think about calling Alaska from New York, after they have finished their coffee in the morning at 8am (their time!), it’s get up, answer the phone, answer questions and provide information!

    “But products will never, themselves, sell. First we sell ourselves, then we sell our products. It’s amazing how a PBR will taste 10x better at a local bar than an $8 Rogue Brewery Draft at a snoody establishment.” ~ This is a perfect example of the answer. It’s us, not it.

  • girlygrizzly

    Sigh. @Lisa Gerber @NancyD68

  • @Paul_Wolfe I don’t like that show either. I was thinking about (I think this is a Dale Carnegie thing maybe?) How we all love the sound of our own name.

    My husband was a bartender for a long time before I knew him. He said he knew everyone by what they drank, not their name. So he’d remember you as Guinness. LOL, I’m Ketel One.

    I like you’re idea about the book but seanmcginnis is making me think more. I need to come up with what brought me in there, in the first place. I’ll get it.

  • @UnlockTheDoor Absolutely. Actually you raise a good point, and a distinction that I’d like to make; we are all entitled to be idiots. and we don’t have to pander to anyone, or try too hard to be liked by many. It’s when you have something you don’t want to lose, that being an idiot is just downright idiotic – like a big client, a spouse, or a career. Big difference there.

  • @fitzternet ok that’s a great idea, but we were just talking about how we don’t like that show. I’m trying to think of another one….

  • @girlygrizzly @JamesDBurrell2 Have you guys seen Joseph Pine talk about the Experience Economy on Ted Talk? It speaks to what you are talking about – how do you differentiate in a commodity market, and why your customers will actually pay a premium for something.

    Amber – so nice to meet you from Chisana, Alaska? Wow. I’ve spent time in Seward and Anchorage but haven’t heard of Chisana. Amazing (and intimidating) country!

  • @BojanDjordjevic sure, I don’t disagree, but as I said below to @UnlockTheDoor , if you have a lot to lose, that you don’t want to lose, then you have to think twice. If you don’t, then absolutely go for it.

  • @rachaelseda it”s all about food and cocktails for me. 🙂

  • @girlygrizzly @Sean McGinnis excellent question. I’ll get back to you on this. I will.

  • @girlygrizzly hah! Great question…great minds. 🙂 Didn’t even see your comment down there! Woops!

  • @Lisa Gerber @girlygrizzly Oh, and by the way, my fat fingers were supposed to type APPLY not Apple! Ugh. Typo-king.

  • @Sean McGinnis i was wondering what an Apple Point is…

  • @Lisa Gerber I the worst typist and proofreader in history….. 😉

  • girlygrizzly

    @Lisa Gerber @JamesDBurrell2 Chisana~ … Tok, which is the first town you come to on the Alaska Highway….. coming into Alaska. We live in Chisana, 110 miles by air, south of Tok, about 40 miles (as a crow flies) from the Yukon border. We are deep inside the Wrangell St. Elias National Park (it’s your Largest National Park) and is the site of the last Historic Gold Rush.

  • PBSofArlington

    @rachaelgk @lisagerber gr8 post on brankding okay. its gr8 PR stuff and very real abt the customer service

  • PBSofArlington

    Great stuff. Okay: We operate a well known, highly popular <a href “”> bartending school</a> have bought a tiny bar and turned it into a huge success before selling it, teach customer service…touching on those pts you’ve made….and have helped more grads get more bartending jobs than any other school anywhere.

    Having “blabbed” all that above 😀 this is a terrific article about PR, and keeping customers’ attention and business (btw: the reason they went into the bar in the first place is probably 95% different than why they might keep coming back.)

    You could drink that Kettle One at any bar, at home, or in a paper bag in public ;)…but when you keep going back to the same bar and the same bartender its about attention to detail and excellent customer service. (and for a bartenders its so easy….if only they all applied themselves).

    Wonderful customer service is so vital!!!!! Its a lot about caring and paying attention to detail. Once well applied its the easiest way in the world, and the cheapest way, to increase your business. How many bars in the world, do better and better because satisfied customers bring their friends in for a drink.

    In our region, two outstanding local fine dining/restaurant/bar chains have done amazingly well for DECADES. hey….the food isn’t always GREAT….but the service is always top notch!!!! Kudo’s to management for recognizing that years ago and ensuring that it is always top notch all the time!!!

  • Leon

    G’Day Lisa,

    Just wanted to say that this is a little gem of a post. Your description of “the bartender we go to see” was particularly apt.

    Have a drink on me. I’ll give you the money when i see you next.



  • @girlygrizzly @Sean McGinnis I am back with the answer to your question. Word of mouth. I came in for the first time because everyone is talking about it. I read it on Yelp and my friends left tips on Foursquare.

  • @Lisa Gerber @girlygrizzly @sean Indeed. 🙂

  • angelica7641

    Haha! Love this post! Couldn’t agree more and I think you and G are good bartenders.

  • girlygrizzly

    @Sean McGinnis @Lisa Gerber @sean Lisa, EXACTLY. That’s one (the original) reason exactly why I began this. Word of mouth. If they don’t know you exist, how can anyone know they need YOU?.

  • lisagerber

    @DC_PQ @rachaelgk aw, very cool. Thank you!!!

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