When the World Is Your Classroom, Everyone Can Be Your Teacher

Or, a master class in marketing from the waitstaff at Hooters

If I ever wanted to go missing, I would go to a Hooters because that is the last place on earth anyone would think to look for me. 

Having said that, I know it has its loyals, a very dedicated demographic who enjoy beer, wings, and tight T-shirts. It also has a great number of super savvy wait staffers and hostesses who appear to know more about consumer behavior and marketing than most MBAs and self-anointed marketing LinkedIn-fluencers. 

How do I know this? Because there is a whole sub-genre of Hooters waitresses offering advice on how to get more tips on TikTok. I have no idea what combination of 1's and 0's lined up in the algorithm to throw this in my feed, but such is the magic of TikTok.

Considering that I am not in need of ways to make bigger tips at Hooters, I was surprised how useful the advice was. Practical, human insights for anyone involved in marketing. Ten minutes, or sixteen hours, into this—it's hard to tell on TikTok—I found myself immersed in the world of tips and tricks for Hooters waitresses. A master class in consumer insights. 

Here are some tips and how we might apply them from abybtw, tequila.aaaa, glitzz_barb.

"If a customer is there with a female, always pay extra attention to her. Chances are this is not her first choice and she may be feeling a little vulnerable. Try to make her feel comfortable. Everybody's night will be better if the whole table has a fun experience." 

Lesson: Your audience might not be who you think they are. Look for the hidden decision makers or the unobvious market. This was pretty clearly demonstrated in Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Can Smell Like."

"Be prepared for Sweet Tea drinkers because they drink those things in like two seconds." 

Lesson: If you want to form a deep connection with your market, pay attention to the things that make people different, not the things that make them the same. Understand their specific relationship with your brand and anticipate their needs. You'll have forever fans.

"Call people by a pet name, like Honey or Sugar. And if you have a recurring guest, remember their order." 

Lesson: The most basic human need, the need to feel seen. Not as a number or member of a mass market, but as a person. Personalization, through data and tracking, can help with this, but nothing is more powerful than a real human connection. Look for those opportunities. 

"Always leave a personal touch like, draw a heart or a smiley face on the check near the bottom."

Lesson: This is a beautiful illustration of the Primacy and Recency Effect. People have the strongest memories about the first and last impressions. Last impressions particularly can affect how they remember the whole event. It's obvious how this could apply to experiential marketing or any service. It's also a good argument for "but my product doesn't show up until the end."

I'm sure there is a lot more you can learn from this particular group, as there are approximately 14,000 hours worth of posts on this topic. I'm almost through it all. One key takeaway though is, there's a lot you can learn from expert non-experts from outside your field or your typical sphere of thought leaders. The best learning can often come from things for which you were not the intended student. ❤️ 🙂 

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Greg Hahn
Greg Hahn is chief creative officer of Mischief @ No Fixed Address.

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