In last week’s Tuesday Tidbit (Always Fly Direct) I had mentioned that I was visiting Miami Beach for a few days of meetings.

As you walk down Ocean Drive, you’ll find one restaurant after the other, each one almost identical. They’ve all got great outdoor seating and heat lamps – because apparently it’s “winter” in Miami. They’ve all got gigantic Mojitos and plates of Crab Legs and Lobster Tails on display to tempt your tastebuds.

The restaurants were nearly indistinguishable – at least 50 of them, and probably many more.

They also shared another commonality. Each restaurant had two or three VERY attractive women standing outside who attempted to literally pull you in to the restaurant. The women would physically hook your arm and walk 20-30 feet with you, smooth talking along the way, trying to convince you this was the best spot in town. As you passed one restaurant, the process would repeat itself again, and again, and again.

Fed up, I asked a few friends where we could get the best seafood in the area. Nearly all of them, including the Hotel’s concierge, recommended a restaurant named A Fish Called Avalon. Since Avalon is my daughter’s name, I knew it had to be great.

As we approached, I noticed something interesting. Perhaps even a telltale sign of what made it great…

There were no women trying to pull us in, and this was the busiest place on the block. They weren’t trying to drag people through the doors. Instead, business was naturally flowing to them. In fact, if you didn’t have a reservation, you weren’t getting a seat.

Ironically, they were the only ones who weren’t fishing.

Can you identify what makes you stand out from competitors in your space, in the eyes of your prospective clients?

Or do you feel the need to use flashy but ultimately meaningless marketing to pull people in, hoping that they’ll like what they see?

The danger of using tactics like this is that it too often leads to the new client addiction that I’ve always railed against – you put in time and effort into trying to up the ante to bring people in, and that takes your focus from giving them a compelling reason to stay.

A Fish Called Avalon knew what its 50 competitors didn’t – that with the right combination of great quality AND well placed influencers recommending and referring them, there was no need for flash.

Indeed, they looked far better by contrast for its absence.IMG_3676