Selling Tacos in Prague

Like most Americans, I consider tamales, tacos and tortas the food of my people – I grew up with all varieties of Tex-mex, Mexican, South American and other foods.  Walking through Prague the other day this sign immediately jumped out at me.

Just South of the Astronomical Clock in Prague.

Just South of the Astronomical Clock in Prague.

Didn’t catch that?  Here is a close up.

"The best Mexican food in Prague" - well, now you have my curiosity.

“The best Mexican food in Prague” – well, now you have my curiosity.

There are some great lessons about what the team at Las Adelitas is doing from a marketing standpoint, and even more so about what they aren’t doing.

Targeted advertisement.  Las Adelitas doesn’t have a billboard, it’s got a 30 cm x 1 meter sign.  If you don’t like Mexican food, you will walk right by it.  They aren’t trying to get the whole world to come to their restaurant, they are catching the eye of those that might already be interested and re-directing them inside.

The restaurant is just off the main square in Prague.

The restaurant is just off the main square in Prague.

Location.  The restaurant isn’t off a remote highway stop – it is in the center of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.  Pedestrian traffic is on the order of a busy midtown Manhattan location.  The restaurant is selling something different, but they paid up on the location to expose what they are doing to a broad audience.

Map the product to the market.  The owners aren’t touting fresh ingredient (including fresh guacamole in the winter), the unique equipment (hot corn tortillas), the unique beverages (good margaritas and Mexican beers), or the other unique menu options (nachos, enchiladas, etc.) – they are simply selling food.  They are selling what people know they want, rather than dressing it up in complexity.

Great product.  The ingredients are fresh and the tacos are delicious.  Las Adelitas persuades customers to come in and then makes sure they get exposure to a great product with good service.

Staged engagement.  It starts with the tiny sign on the street.  From there you enter a long hallway to a courtyard where there is more marketing information including signs with pictures of the meals.  Lastly, there is a full menu for anyone to read before taking the last stairs down into the restaurant.

Appropriate investment.  The restaurant itself is pretty tiny.  It is in a great location.  The plant is big enough to deliver fresh warm tortillas and chips with an ice cold margarita.  They don’t have a huge facility, rather they have one that is the right size that should let them stay open for a long time given the quality of the product.

What they didn’t do:

Over-invest.  There isn’t a five story location with flashing lights and billboards.  They aren’t trying to compete with MacDonald’s, KFC or Burger King – each of which have two units within 300 meters.  The plant is the right size in order to prove out the function of the concept.

Delicious tacos that would go head to head with anything in Texas or Mexico (and beat the Carolinas easily).

Delicious tacos that would go head to head with anything in Texas or Mexico (and beat the Carolinas easily).

Hybridize the product.  Just around the corner are dozens of Czech street food vendors – all selling hotdogs, sausages, hot wine and other local cuisines.  It would be tempting for an exotic cuisine to try and meat the local cuisine halfway.  Why not do a Czech sausage taco?  Or a hot wine margarita?  The owners have avoided that, because while it would increase their reach it would invalidate the authenticity of their product.

Too much detail too early.  The initial hook was simple and to the point – if you like Mexican food it is enough to reel you in.  They aren’t attempting to get everyone to stop through, just the educated buyers who will appreciate the quality of the product.  As you proceed, more detail is unveiled.  There isn’t a dancing taco in the square or a full menu out on the exterior – the right information is revealed at the right time.

The expression, “selling ice to Eskimos” has always made me laugh.  The Eskimos likely don’t need the ice and are highly unlikely to become a repeat customer.  Selling tacos to in Prague, however, is an interesting exercise.

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