Good Marketing is a Like a Ramen Shop

Every business is good at something. There are some businesses that try to be good at everything. However, sometimes it’s best to focus on what you know best and let others do what they do best. It can be a win-win for everyone.

Let me explain. During a December trip to Pasadena, CA, we waited in line for more than an hour to dine at a ramen restaurant. Ramen restaurants aren’t typically fancy; here, the menu featured only six dishes to choose from.

With Santa Ana winds whipping, the temperature (if you can imagine it now) was in the 40s in the shade. Yet there were more than 70 people who weren’t dressed properly for the weather standing in a line that wrapped around the corner of the building and into the alley.

Most Americans know about ramen. Even supermarkets that don’t specialize in ethnic foods have a number of varieties on the grocery shelves. They are often a staple for college students and people on a budget because, even when they aren’t on sale, you can get ramen for less than 50 cents a serving. Additionally, it’s pretty filling for such an inexpensive dish. Cooking ramen at home isn’t complicated either. Boil some water, let the noodles steep and add the flavorings.

With a dish that is so simple to find and make, why would anyone seek out a restaurant and wait in line for it? For an hour? Especially in the cold and wind.

Ramen Tatsunoya started in 1999 in Kurume City, Fukuoka, Japan, a city with numerous ramen shops that have very loyal followings. Taking a chance there was a huge step. To differentiate themselves from others, founder Ryuta Kajiwara says he and the staff dedicated themselves to “perfecting the ultimate bowl of ramen” and providing kando, a Japanese word that means “a feeling of awe-inspiring.” They dedicated themselves to give more than customers expected.

Like ramen, marketing and social media isn’t necessarily all that complicated and most people probably know at least one 12-year old wunderkind who somehow manages to attract hundreds of fans on Facebook. An organization seeking to gain exposure might have in-house staff develop content and manage its social media presence. Having staff take on one more duty is cost effective and, in all fairness, it’ll get the job done just like whipping up some ramen at home.

But there’s a reason people are willing to stand in the cold for good ramen. It’s because while they may seem the same at first glance, an expert brings a depth to their craft that makes it better and gives that feeling of awe-inspiring. For marketing and social media, that means a broader reach with deeper engagement across your audience. It means that your ad budget goes farther and your messaging improves as you learn what best resonates with your residents.

Just like an expert ramen shop, SGA brings a depth of experience that helps the organizations we support in marketing and social media do more. When SGA works on a program, it isn’t one more duty assigned to an already overworked staff member; it’s a full team that carefully crafts content and researches why something worked (or, often more interesting, why it failed). The result is a marketing and social media presence that, while superficially the same as any organization that “has Facebook,” better reaches residents and inspires awe. We strive to bring kando to all parts of SGA and are grateful when we get to bring it to our clients.

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Meet Adam, SGA’s Worm-Loving, Endurance-Training Master and New Biz Guru

New Biz Wizz, composting enthusiast, barefoot runner and curious thinker are just a couple of words that describe Adam Quinn, SGA’s newest team member.

Adam joins us from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he studied Law and received his JD/MBA from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. However, he realized early on that being a lawyer is not the career he wants even though he loved Law School: “One of the things I loved the most was how working on cases allowed me to get deep into certain topics. Before you get to understand a case you have to do a lot of research and learn the weirdest things, such as for example how to stucco a house. I enjoyed internalizing these types of information that had to do with a greater context of the world in order to win a case.” Still, this wasn’t enough to make him want to stick to a career in law and decided instead to pursue a business career where he could a have a positive impact. So here he is, sharing SGA’s triple bottom line philosophy and helping us make a difference by applying his analytical skills to SGA’s growth.

When he is not working, he likes to stay active. In fact, the beautiful SoCal weather felt so good that soon after moving to Long Beach he took up running barefoot on the beach. And we are talking serious running here – he is currently training for his first marathon (which, by the way, he will not run barefoot). In addition to running, traveling, hiking, and tending to his garden are his favorite things to do.

Adam has many passions but if there is one thing that really drives him, it’s learning. “Everything has a learning curve, and early on in learning something new there is a huge payout. I love to jump onto a bunch of different stuff. The most recent thing I got excited about was vermiculture – as I’ve been learning about composting I realized that I don’t have enough space to compost efficiently which brought me to worms.” Now he is a proud owner of more than 10,000 worms, composting all organic waste at home and using the compost for his garden. He certainly takes the cake for being the greenest thumb at SGA!

Fellow SGAers enjoy learning about his wild travel adventures during our lunch breaks and happy hours. Here’s one I like to call a “true Indiana Jones story” from one of his travels; last year he and his wife managed to escape four mountain lions that surrounded them in Pinnacles near Yosemite! Make sure you ask him about that when you meet him.

Check out some pictures from Adam’s travels below.

Reaching California’s Ethnic Communities

When we embarked on designing a campaign to promote paint recycling on behalf of PaintCare to Chinese-speaking populations in California, we wanted to make sure we based our campaign on data rather than long-held assumptions. What kind of messaging would resonate with this population?

Did they know paint was even recyclable?

Most Chinese-speaking communities did not know paint is recyclable, we found. We spoke to nearly 70 residents in Southern and Northern California and found that 92% didn’t know paint is recyclable. However, when asked if they would be likely to recycle paint, 72% said they would.

We also found that at least 40% of those surveyed said they had leftover paint in their homes that could be recycled at a participating paint store. The biggest motivator was found to be doing the right thing (66%).

PaintCare aired in-language radio ads in the San Francisco Bay Area. We pitched the story to Chinese-language media throughout California and placed six stories in print and TV stations including ETTV, Skylink and TVB.

Here’s a segment in Cantonese that ran in Skylink TV featuring our resident champion Cindy Gan and a segment on ETTV featuring our very own Philip Kao and Gan.

KPCC Radio also aired a story on the campaign.