By Rex Hammock

During the past decade, people like me who live in Nashville have witnessed a fascinating phenomenon. While Nashville had been known for a couple of styles of food (scorching spicy chicken and comfort food served at meat-and-threes), the city was never considered a food mecca.

That has changed dramatically.

Though I am the least likely person to review restaurants or cuisine, I do recognize great content marketing and great storytelling. And I know when I see chefs and entrepreneurs not only master the kitchen, but also master and continually build upon the story that makes their business special.

A company’s story is its brand come to life

Ironically, not being a foodie destination in the past helped to make it possible for Nashville to become one today. Other southern cities like Charleston, New Orleans, Memphis and Birmingham have great food traditions, but each is associated with a singular style or personality.

New Nashville restaurants don’t have to adhere to any style or story. They can be adventurous and quirky and unique.

Starting with the obvious—great food—new Nashville restaurateurs are using context to tell inspiring stories, such as the civil rights foundation of Woolworth on 5th. This month, a must-try new restaurant is inspired by the food carts of India. Bars and restaurants are now in locations so hip, they are hidden with no signage. And others aren’t just direct from farms, they are on farms. The ones that will stand the test of time are telling their story with the same skill they are preparing their food.

Lessons for all marketers

It’s no longer enough to have a great product and excellent service. Even a great product can seem like a commodity in today’s marketplace. To compete in any field—from healthcare to upscale restaurants—you must also have a unique story to tell and you must tell it well. That’s what marketing with content is all about. And today, that’s the difference between blandness and the taste of success.

Photo: Courtesy of Woolworth on 5th

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