(aka Vancouver’s 10 Best Beet Salads)
I’ll be the first to admit my culinary promiscuity. I like to eat and drink the good stuff, which eats up most of my money. Throughout this pants-tightening journey, I’ve noticed a few trends. This post is about one of those trends, and how it demonstrates the many ways words can help sell something, even something as ordinary as a root vegetable.
Beet Salad Epidemic
A large number of Vancouver restaurants have a beet salad on the menu, but not every restaurant simply describes it as a beet salad. It must be described in a way that tells us it’s better than the countless beet salads we’ve tried before. The words that describe the beet salad must justify spending up to $16 to add that pile of root vegetables to our daily caloric intake.
This is the essence of copywriting, and advertising in general. A bit of research even led me to discover that there’s a whole science to composing a restaurant menu, including a variety of tricks to get us to spend tons of money on something that costs very little to produce.
Vancouver’s 10 Best Beet Salads (aka 10 Ways to Sell Beets)
To get an idea of how Vancouver restaurants sell common menu items, I surveyed some friends about where they’d had a memorable beet salad. Then, I used my impressive internet operating skills to find each salad’s menu description and price.
As you can see, the salad descriptions are always different. Some might have slightly different ingredients, but this list illustrates how highlighting certain features can make something as simple as a beet salad seem worthy of our hard-earned money (assuming we haven’t read any Yelp reviews). And of course, there’s something to be said for the creative genius of Vancouver chefs.
Beet Salad // fresh baby spinach, crumbled goat cheese, white balsamic dressing, gooseberries $8
Rocket & Watercress Beetroot Salad // local chevre, crispy pears, walnuts $8
Roots // Heritage greens, goat’s cheese, spiced pecans, cucumber, grape tomato and lemon honey dressing $12.95
Beet // Macadamia cheese and beet ravioli, grapefruit, cider glaze $10
Fraser Valley Spring Beet Salad // Farmhouse chevre, shaved apples, endive, grainy mustard vinaigrette $16
Beet // Quinoa, goat feta, hazelnuts & apple-fennel vinaigrette $10
Sous Vide Beets // Preserved lemon amaranth, hazelnuts, horseradish $12
Winter Vegetable Salad // Carrot, marinated winter beets, fennel, swiss chard, baked gorgonzola, walnuts, pastry $12
Marinated North Arm Farm Beetroot // Tallegio custard, pears, pumpkin seeds $13
Roasted Golden Beet and Spinach Salad // Goat cheese, cherry tomato, dill vinaigrette $9.25
In all of these examples, the main ingredients of the salad are listed, with added descriptors that tell us why the salads are unique. Sometimes it’s the combination of ingredients that’s unique, but the descriptors add context that gives us an extra nudge. Think about how saying ‘beetroot’ instead of the common ‘beet’ makes the salad sound somehow better, or how saying ‘heritage greens’ can make lettuce interesting, or how replacing ‘goat cheese’ with ‘farmhouse chevre’ changes the game. These are all calculated decisions.
How Are You Selling Your Beets?
What words are you using to sell your product or service and make it stand out from the competition? When describing your offering, it’s a good idea to highlight features that:
- Make your product or service worthy of a premium price tag
- Appeal to your ideal customer’s values (for example, the way ‘local’ appeals to someone interested in sustainable eating)
- Are rare, hard to come by, or unique versions of an old favourite (like white balsamic vinegar)
- Are trendy or proven to drive traffic (such as ‘bacon’ or ‘quinoa’)
What Ever You Do, Don’t Overdo It
This post reminds me of something David Sedaris wrote in his book ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’. If you’re writing marketing content about your product, service or something on your menu, be creative, but always be clear. Don’t overdo it.
“SoHo is not a macaroni salad kind of place. This is where the world’s brightest young talents come to braise caramelized racks of corn-fed songbirds or offer up their famous knuckle of flash-seared crappie served with a collar of chided ginger and cornered by a tribe of kiln-roasted Chilean toadstools, teased with a warm spray of clarified musk oil. Even when they promise something simple, they’ve got to tart it up – the meatloaf has been poached in seawater, or there are figs in the tuna salad. If cooking is an art, I think we’re in our Dada phase.”