The Guy With the Greatest Small Business Gig in the World

on March 30, 2017

As much as I love small business, there’s nothing that bums me out more than a poorly run small business. Since we can’t match the low prices of big-box stores, it baffles me when I see a small business that doesn’t seem to stand out in any particular way.

I was thinking about this today, which then got me thinking about a family friend named Jeff Berry, a guy who has maybe the coolest gig in the world.

Back in the day, Jeff was very successful in the movie business in Los Angeles. He liked it well enough but for various reasons decided after several years that it was time to move on.

But what to do next?

Jeff had long had a passion for making unique tropical drinks, Tiki drinks. It turns out that many Tiki drinks were created, not surprisingly, by bartenders. As Jeff travelled the world and sipped, he also befriended the bartenders who shared their recipes with him. Jeff would later make these delicious libations at home for friends and family, (and yes, it was good to be a friend of Jeff!)

Eventually Jeff became known as “Beachbum Berry.” He became maybe the world’s foremost expert on Tiki drinks (and if you are thinking that maybe you made a career mistake upon hearing this story, you are not alone.) Invited to speak at Tiki conventions all over (yes, there are such things), “The Bum” ended up also writing several books, including my favorite, the stunning “Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean.”

Wanting to extend his unique brand even further, Beachbum Berry continued to look for new opportunities. When he looked at the French Quarter where he eventually landed, he realized that, while there were a lot of jazz clubs there, there were no Tiki bars. His unique brand and a market need converged, and Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 Tiki Bar has been a hit since the day it opened.

As he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “I’ve been drinking Tiki drinks since 1980. I’ve been trying to make them since the early 1990s. I should, by all rights, be sick of Tiki drinks. But I like rum, sugar and lime.”

I share Jeff Berry’s story, not only because it’s obviously a great summer tale, but also because he is a perfect example of how a small business should build a business and a brand.

What is it that you do that is unique, different, and special? What is your secret sauce? Whatever the answer, it will almost assuredly behoove you to build your business brand around that.

Let me suggest that for most small businesses, there are three ways to build and promote your unique X-factor brand:

1. Consider your business name: “Beachbum Berry” is unique and identifiable. Jeff’s moniker tells you immediately what his brand is all about.

Almost always, the first thing (and sometimes the last thing) consumers hear about a small business is its name. Because of that, having your brand benefits be part of the name of your business can reap tremendous rewards – people know immediately what the business is all about:

  • Baja Fresh – Fresh Mexican Food
  • Jiffy Lube – Quick oil changes
  • Whole Foods – Healthy produce and products

While it is certainly often not feasible to change the name of a business, it is important to know that the name really is that important. A startup should especially keep this in mind.

2. Use a great tagline: While a long-established business would likely be unwise to change its name, it can nevertheless gain the same benefits of a great name by adding a potent tagline. A tagline, when used extensively and consistently, can do more than almost anything to establish a brand in the market.

  • Nike: Just do it
  • De Beers: A diamond is forever
  • The Marines: The few, the proud

The way to create a good tagline is to think about the benefits of your brand – what makes it unique – and distill that down to a pithy sentence.

No, it is not an easy task.

3. Repetition: Repetition is the key, repetition is the key, repetition is the key. What is the key? See?

By repeatedly conveying the same unique message in all that you do, you are telling the public who you are, why your business is special, and giving them a way to remember you.

Let’s drink to that.

© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.