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The Vitamin or Painkiller Strategy

When it comes to offering the best customer service possible, what is your strategy? Are you the kind of entrepreneur that offers your clients a regular supply of low stakes services, or are you the hero that sweeps in and saves the day? Do you make people feel content, or do you exceed all of their expectations, blow them away, and make their wildest dreams a reality?

I know which one I want to be. Do you?

Think about it this way: if you could only have access to one pill for the rest of your life, would you choose vitamins or painkillers? Sure, it’s great to have easy access to vitamins, but a painkiller is an utter necessity. It will help you when things are at their very worst; it can be a literal lifesaver when the chips are down.

When you work in sales, the customer expects you to have vitamins. They expect that you are going to give them the basic things that they need to keep functioning. But what they really want are the painkillers—the goods and services that will dramatically change the way they live their lives for the better.

Transforming your company

Back in the 1980s, American car giant Dodge made a minor change to their design and rocked the automotive industry. Yes—something as simple (and some would say even as trivial) as a cup holder can transform your business.

See, back in 1984, cars didn't have cup holders. While in car dining was popular, people usually parked their cars and ate their food in the parking lot. That all changed in 1983 when McDonald’s opened their first drive thru on infamous Route 66.

The food and drinks were packaged in a way that made eating on the go the obvious choice. Fast food was now sold as a painkiller—something that any “on the go” family or business professional could simply not do without. The only problem was that while the eating habits of America were changing, the car designs were not yet following suit.

The Dodge design team had a hard time convincing senior execs that the interiors needed to be modified to accommodate drivers eating behind the wheel. They challenged the bigwigs to spend a day in their car, and low and behold their attitudes soon changed. One sales executive placed a cup of hot coffee between his legs and hit a bump in the road—scalding coffee flew everywhere. He then understood that something had to be done.

The 1984 Dodge Caravan included a cup holder, and the rest is history. It became the best-selling car in America that year, and people actively sought out the model for its convenient cup holder. All of the major car companies soon followed suit, proving that what could have been simply a vitamin had quickly become a painkiller. Everyone just had to have it.


"You have to know your audience, determine what is bothering them, and then make sure your product or service addresses this need."


Are you already selling a painkiller?

Many of you out there probably sell painkillers instinctively. You are already selling something high quality, important, and of immense value. If you're actually selling a painkiller but you sell it like it's a vitamin, no one will buy it. You need to make sure you explain from the beginning why your service is essential.

Make it clear that you are able to offer peace of mind, fantastic service, and real-world solutions. You have to know your audience, determine what is bothering them, and then make sure your product or service addresses this need.

Are you offering something that is nice to have (a vitamin)? Or something that you need to have (a painkiller)? Make this clear and shout it from the rooftops—you are a real-life saver, and your clients will benefit from doing business with you vs. your competition.

There is nothing wrong with vitamins but let’s be honest, there is nothing exciting or compelling about them either. If you want to stand out from the crowd and be something really special, you know what you need to do. Take it from me—it pays off.

Meryl Snow is the owner of Snow Storm Solutions and is a Certified Catering Consultant. She can be reached at [email protected].

See Meryl Snow at CS2018! Click on the image below for more information!

Meryl Snow

Owner, Feastivities Events, Philadelphia, PA and Senior Consultant, Certified Catering Consultants

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method.  As a Senior Consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.She is the author of Booked It! and Cha-CHING!

Meryl Snow

Catersource Advisory Council Member

Founder of