The phrase “eating your own dog food” has dropped out of vogue over the past few years, replaced by softer metaphors. It has commonly been used in the software development industry to describe the practice of companies using their own software in their daily operations as proof of concept. I think it is a metaphor worth some thought in a broader sense and believe the coarseness of the phrase punctuates the point perfectly.
If we act on the premise that we all “make dog food” we can assume some companies make healthy, tasty gourmet dog food. Other companies make dog food containing bad nasties that shouldn’t be consumed. Then there are a bunch of companies somewhere in the middle. The question you should ask yourself as a business owner: Am I willing to eat the dog food I serve my customers?
If the answer is “heck no and I don’t care” there may be some fundamental issues with your business no marketing company can help with. If you know you’re not serving gourmet dog food but you want to then there’s hope! Often the recipe for better dog food begins with a dash of perspective.
It can be challenging to look at your company through a layperson’s eyes because you’re “inside the box”. After you’ve been in your industry for years and decades it can be difficult to look at your company through a different perspective, but that perspective is critical to your long-term success. Take the time to go through your own customer experience–or better yet get a close friend who isn’t in your industry to be a “secret shopper”. Surely any of your friends would be willing to do it for a nice dinner and bottle of wine, and the feedback you collect will be invaluable. If it’s frustrating for you or your secret shopper to do business with your company you can bet it’s frustrating for your customers.
Once you figure out what type of dog food you’re serving, add a dash of spices to liven it up a little. Strive to be gourmet! Then list all the ingredients that makes your dog food taste better than your competitors. These are your value propositions. Work these value propositions into all your marketing (especially your website) and continue to build on these successes. At the end of the day you’ll figure out that eating your own dog food is a useful and healthy exercise! Enjoy!