This past weekend, I had one of the smartest marketing experiences in my life. My father, being in the food service industry for most of my growing-up years I suppose, kept me particularly attuned to dining experiences. I grew up with him critiquing every place we went to eat. So this weekend I went to see the dance troupe Ronald K. Brown and Evidence at The Kennedy Center with a group of friends, and have dinner beforehand. One of us who was local selected Marcel's, a French-Belgian restaurant on Pennsylvania Ave. in DC. Now get this.

They offer a set "pre-theater menu" for customers attending an event at the Kennedy Center, with 2-3 choices for each course for a set price. AND a car service to take you to and from the theater. (let that marinate a second). AND, if you prefer, you can have your dessert course with coffee AFTER the show when they bring you back. One set price for all of that. Ask me if they've earned my business from now on? Oh yeah. (and yes the food is delectable.)

The proverbial light bulb is on with someone at this restaurant. In terms of marketing, to me it goes to really thinking about the customer first, and adding value above and beyond the dining experience to retain them. A company "seeing the whole field", like a good quarterback. Or better yet, rethinking the definition of "customer experience." Not only with your product, but what role does that product play in the rest of that person's life? How can a company add value around that, beyond the obvious extended warranties and service charges.

So, standing-o to Marcel's and Chef/Proprietor Robert Wiedmaier. Visit their website here.