What the Next Food Network Star Teaches Us About Winning and Retaining Business

What does it take to become a famous Food Network star like Rachael Ray, Giadi De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay? Well, first, it would be important that you know how to turn an oven on and cook a pizza without burning the house down. A bubbly (sometimes over-the-top) personality would also help. If you have either of those mastered, then you could try your hand at The Next Food Network Star, a show that gives 15 contestants the opportunity to compete and become the next food-channel celebrity.

It seems to me (as someone who hasn’t changed the channel from the Food Network in two months) that in order to become a Food Network Star, the contestant has to have the whole package; they can’t be just a good chef or have just the image and TV personality.

This same concept goes for a successful business. As creative and genius as a marketing campaign may be, the advertised product or service has to back up those efforts.

It’s important to have a good marketing campaign that grabs customers’ attention and sparks their interest, but the product and service also needs to speak for itself. The product and service, combined, is what will keep the customer.

For example, when a customer reaches customer service and deals with a grumpy, non-helpful person, then they will most likely avoid using that company again. If after watching an enticing commercial, the customer goes out and purchases a defective product, then they won’t keep buying the same defective product. This is also shown on The Next Food Network Star, when a chef who has a great personality makes horrible food; the chef won’t be able to win the contest because viewers won’t keep tuning in to learn how to cook crappy food.

Would you tune in to watch him cook?

Would you tune in to watch him cook?

On the other side, as important as the quality of your product and service is, you shouldn’t just sit and wait for your self-proclaimed awesomeness to attract business. How will a customer know about your awesome product if you aren’t getting the word out and reminding them that such a product or service exists? Contestants on The Next Food Network Star get voted off when they can’t warm up to the cameras and show personality on the screen. Even if the contestant is an amazing chef, they still have to catch the audience’s attention and get viewers to watch their show. If someone caught a glimpse of a talented (but boring) chef’s show, they might not stay tuned long enough to find out that he or she makes great food.

As a business, it’s crucial for your product and service to have the support of a marketing program. Marketing will increase customers’ interest and make them aware of your company, services, and products.  Being able to show that your business has a personality will help your customers relate to you as a business and keep them interested and wanting to do business with you.

Which companies have the whole package when it comes to marketing and quality? Do you watch The Next Food Network Star? And can you think of any other business examples from the show?

 Image credit from Smart Destinations.


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  1. Joseph Giorgi

    I’ve never seen the show, but I like your analogy. In a way, effective advertising is a balancing act. It’s important for brands and businesses to ensure that their marketing methods neither overshadow nor understate the product or service they’re marketing.

    Great post, Lauren!

    • Amanda

      Well said Joe. Either way can be hazardous for business–I think finding that balance is how a lot of places start going down hill.

  2. JPorretto

    “The whole package” is SO important. It doesn’t really get talked about nearly enough in my opinion. So much focus will go into marketing, but you first have to have a great product. Or so much focus will go into the product, but then you have to have great marketing. It applies to almost everything. I can only imagine how many near success stories there are because they didn’t have the “whole package”. What a great point!

    • Amanda

      Well said Jeff, I agree!

  3. Rachel

    I’ve not seen the show either, but I definitely know what you mean about the importance of both a good product/service AND good marketing. A friend of mine is starting up an Etsy shop, and her jewelry is awesome–but she’s struggling to find ways to effectively market the shop and make herself visible among all the other sellers. What’s the point of having cool stuff to sell if no one knows you’re selling it? It’s something I think a lot of small businesses deal with especially–as you say, it’s crucial to have a marketing program, but that often costs money that a small business doesn’t have, or that they didn’t expect they’d have to spend. It’s a tricky balance to achieve when you’re working with a small amount of resources.

    I hadn’t thought of applying it to reality shows, though, but you’re totally right! If you want to be the next Food Network star, you better cook well and market yourself just as well. 🙂

  4. amy

    Great post Lauren!

    I also love watching Food Network, but haven’t watched this since the first season when Guy won. Now he’s everywhere and I kind of wish he wouldn’t have won.

    I really like that you gave some tips too for businesses 🙂

    • LK

      I do like Guy’s show Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.. I would love to just take a road trip and go to all the places he checks out!!

      • Amanda

        Same here Lauren! He shows some awesome places–my dad has checked out one of the places that was featured on the show (the name slips my mind now) but he said it was excellent! =)

    • Amanda

      Food Network is pretty sweet! I watch it here and there, and always enjoy their shows! =)

      Nice blog post topic Lauren!

  5. Cybernetic SAM

    This is a great post! My family is obsessed with the food network or as we call it comfort tv!

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m not really a huge Food Network fan because I feel like ALL of those people are on crack…but I see your point! The whole package, as Jeff said, is extremely important.

    The balance of marketing and product quality is seriously important.

  7. Jana Quinn

    Excellent post, Lauren. We love the touchy-feely “you’ll succeed at anything you do” praise or the money-grubbing “customer interactions don’t matter if the product is awesome.” That allows people to emphasize their strengths without dealing with the entire product. However, that’s not what builds success – image and interaction are both critical.

    Being a nice person is fabulous, but make sure your product doesn’t suck. Having an awesome product is fantastic, but don’t be a jerkweed to your customers.

    Hmm… now I’m hungry.

  8. Bret Bonnet

    Isn’t there a new show on VH1 or MTV where celebrities are tasked with the responsibility of opening a new world class restaurant in 90 days with a set budget? That’s more like my kind of TV.

    I like like the Food Network and reality television in general but I have a hard time watching shows like Celebrity Rehab or recycled television shows where the contestants who did not win end up battling it out on national TV only because their “bubbly” personalities are completely laughable!

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