A Study in Differentiation, or How I Dealt with Being in a Slightly Upscale Restaurant…

How’s it going? I went out to a fancy restaurant in shorts the other day. The woman who took reservations told us people dressed up or down when they came there, which was fine. A friend of the family gave us a gift card to go to this place and have fun.

Inside the glass doors, things reminded me of an upscale restaurant crossed with one of those coffee shops that have people who recite poetry at a mic. It was really quiet inside, there was blues and other softer music playing in the background, and a chandelier was over the table nearby where we sat.

When we checked out the restaurant menu online before we got there, I noticed one of the things on the PDF document said “Tap for details” or something similar.

It all made sense when the dude who seated us brought four tablet computers instead of paper, leather, and laminate menus. He told us they change the menu every week, and that’s why they digitized it. They even had booze suggestions (oh, “pairings,” sorry), for a lot of the meals there.

Our server was super attentive. The other interesting part was that she brought us refills without asking us first–just boom, there it is.

This was really interesting to me, because I’d never seen these things done before at any other restaurant. My brother told me “That’s the first place I’ve been where it was free refills whether you want them or not.” (And we had picked something they offered free refills on, by the way–not everything).

All of this gave me some perspective. With two to three simple things, this place was a lot different than anything in the area.

The food was very good, even though it was just burgers (that’s not all they had, just what we picked).

Because of the environment, it gave off an upscale vibe, and I had to suppress the desire that I really didn’t belong there. It was just me–I didn’t see anyone else in a suit and tie or what-have-ya.

It was my perception of these things–that’s the kind of cocktail differentiation is. Restaurants serve food–it’s the same for McDonald’s as it is for New York Prime (the most expensive restaurant I’ve ever been to–not the one this post is talking about, though).

It’s little tweaks, like the teeny adjustment on the free refill policy, that made this place feel different. All in a town of about 20,000 people–so not really huge, either.

How can you use this type of thing to your advantage? I probably can’t cover all the ways, because this is very personal on either side, because certain fiction genres have expectations, and certain markets that copywriters deal with want or gravitate toward certain things. And writers have different things that they’re good at that they can use.

Sometimes it’s adding a personal touch, or doing whatever everyone else isn’t doing at the time, that makes the difference for differentiation. Everything from how and when you contact your clients, how you deliver work, add-on services, referral techniques, and a lot more can be adjusted so they aren’t 100% like what someone else is up to.

Hundreds of people (probably) blog about writing, fiction, or copywriting every week, maybe every day. But none of them are me–they don’t have my experience, background, and what makes me, me. (Which is also why I decided after I started up to have a weekly prompt for fiction writers–to put something out there that you’d want to come back to over and over).

Just like a restaurant that serves free refills without anyone having to ask.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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