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When we moved from Seattle to the Nashville area, it was like moving from an oasis of great food options to a desert prison serving three kinds of food…

  1. Fried and crispy
  2. Fried and greazy
  3. Fried crispy grease

This was 1st-world suffering at its worst.

And the food I missed most of all was Asian. There were a few places we tried when we got here…

Taste of Asia… 

Chinese Food Yum… 

A1 Best Thai and Japanese… 

Each of them disagreed with me. Or, rather, my body disagreed with them.

Californians to the Rescue! (well… almost)

As the Nashville area has grown and the restaurants have become more diverse, more and more Asian restaurants keep popping up (thanks, Californians!).

My early experience burned me though, so I never ventured far from a couple tried-and-true choices… until two months ago.

Recently a friend from Washington was speaking at a conference, and we were introduced to a local couple who recommended a particular Asian restaurant that we needed to try.

It’s the only place they go because it’s so delicious.

I knew the place, and couldn’t believe it would do anything other than wreck me. It’s seedy looking and there’s never any customers—always a sign of gastronomical terrors.

But I trust these two—they’re much better traveled than I—so I decided to give it a shot. My wife and I walked in, and the place was barren of customers. The only people in this huge space were the 10 or so wait staff and us.

Imagine my shock when this ended up being the best Japanese food this side of Seattle.

Herd-Think Unmasked

I sat there stunned…

How had I not known about this place?

Has this restaurant been here the entire time we’ve lived in Tennessee?

Then I realized what I’d been doing: based on a few (really) bad experiences with Asian food when we first moved to the Nashville area, I became overly skeptical of any Asian restaurant I encountered.

If there were lots of people inside, I’d go.

If there were no people, there was a reason—so I’d stay away.  Herd-think had me fooled.

What Is Herd-Think, and Why Are People Susceptible to it?

Herd-think (as I like to call it) is a psychological shorthand to help us human animals survive in the wild. Let me paint a picture as an example…

In our caveman years, if we saw a bunch of our tribe sprinting for the cave, we’d start sprinting too.

There might be a saber-toothed tiger hot on their trail…

The cave might be under attack from a competing tribe…

Someone might have rung the dinner bell…

Herd think is about survival. In the wild, there wasn’t time to stop, align our chakras, and contemplate our next move. It was eat or be eaten.

This is all great in the wilderness of prehistory, but it predisposes us to act against our best interest in much of the modern world. Now, I’m not suggesting that going against the crowd is always best, but feel free to consider the fact that you’re not being hunted by tigers as permission to ditch the herd and carefully plan your next move. [bctt tweet=”Consider the fact that you’re not being hunted by tigers as permission to ditch the herd and carefully plan your next move.” username=”theellispond”]

That’s all fine and good for us enlightened entrepreneurs, but most of our clients and customers act under the influence of herd-thinking logic—which means it’s something we are affected by, even if we find a way to move outside the herd.


What Does Herd-Think Mean for Your Business?

Since we’re still impacted by the herd whether or not we choose to take part in it, we have to deal with its realities. I’ve found that thinking through the following questions is a great place to start:

Seven Questions to Uncover Herd-Think

  1. What experiences are common in your market?
  2. Are they good? Bad?
  3. Is there a reputation you need to overcome?
  4. Who are the leaders in your market? Why?
  5. What is the common wisdom surrounding your market and industry?
  6. How does “the herd” engage with businesses similar to yours? What are their stereotypes of it
  7. Has your type of business been caricatured in the media? How can you use this popular distortion to your advantage?

After answering these questions, you may find that your business is like this poor Japanese restaurant: they’re doing everything right with their product, but the crappy dives they compete with drag them down. They’re only saved by intrepid locals who live walking-distance from the restaurant, who figure they’re close enough to home to make the risk seem worthwhile.

If that’s the boat you find yourself in, start to take advantage of the herd-think.

Get in front of the herd and show them a better way.

A herd of wildebeests might run together during a stampede, but if a group of lions suddenly appears in front of them, the whole herd is going to change direction.

Your marketing is that lion.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t be afraid to be a marketing lion!” username=”theellispond”]

A Cure for Herd-Think

If you think you’d benefit from having a second set of eyes on your market so you can avoid the fate of our beloved Japanese restaurant, we offer a market analysis with every marketing strategy playbook. If you’re not sure what that is, email Brian at [email protected].

In the meantime, don’t be fooled by herd-think, and be aware of how it could be impacting your business.


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